From the Shop Floor — The Week in Manufacturing (11/2/2012)

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. economy has been given a pre-election lift.

The Washington Post reports that according to one report, while factory orders took a nice 4.8% jump in September, overall investment in the sector remains weakBusiness Week adds that, according to the ISM, manufacturing  rose in October for the second consecutive month.

Reuters, meanwhile, reminds us that not only does the ISM report show that manufacturing is trending upward, but so is consumer confidence.

There are signs as well that, at long last, China’s manufacturing sector may just be turning things around.

At the same time, citing how one luggage manufacturer in particular is ramping up for 2013, Business Week also wonders if China isn’t poised for a rebound.

Speaking of China, the Los Angeles Times details how Foxconn recently hired five 15-year old “interns” to make Sony Playstations on its assembly line — for 12 hours a day.  The legal age for such manual labor in China is 16.  And yes, it’s only five boys ouy of millions of workers in the country.  But this is also one more example of just how far China is behind U.S. manufacturers on the whole enlightenment curve.

Michigan congressman Hansen Clarke, writing in the Detroit Free Press, says that fiscal reform will be critical in helping U.S. manufacturing fully recover.

Check this one out if you get a chance, including the source article.  A blogger asks, “What’s so great about STEM, if a kid can’t write?”  STEM, should you  not be aware, is an educational initiative designed to teach our kids math and science.  And I could not agree more with the blogger.  Arts and letters remain just as important to students today than they’ve ever been, if not more so.  Creativity and out-of-the-box thinking are more in demand than they’ve ever been, and just teaching a kid numbers these days completely ignores the side of his or her brain that is respsonbible for such thinking.

Price Waterhouse Coopers recently released its third quarter survey of American manufacturing.  The results?  Hiring looks good for the foreseeable future, but everything else appears a little muddy.

Here’s an interesting story about one marketing firm, Tiptopio, that is attempting to marry SEO — that is, search engine optimization — with American-made products, helping them become Google darlings and earn page-one status in many Google searches. 

And here’s a study that points out what many of us already know: off-shoring is on the decline in the U.S.

Most right-minded people in the middle of the political spectrum saw right through the new Mitt Romney ad which takes the Obama administration to task for its auto-industry bailout, seeing it as little more than cynical, politically motivated, and devoid of any sense of any history or context.  But Democratic attack dog Joe Biden took things one step further this week, calling the 30-second spot an “outrageous lie.”  The Christian Science Monitor, meanwhile, ran its own litmus test on the ad’s factual points and overall contention.

On Halloween Day Toyota celebrated a significant milestone;  its 25 millionth vehicle manufactured in North America.

Business Week offers this quick Q&A with U.S. Steel CEO John Surma. (Surma, by the way, is also the vice chairman of Penn State and the guy who publicly announced the firing of Joe Paterno.)

Fox Business reports that Eli Lilly is set to undertake a major expansion of its manufacturing plant in Indianapolis.

Here’s a fascinating study which contends that U.S. consumers have so over-valued made-in-America garments that their loyalty is staring to have a negative impact on the U.S. garment industry.

Along those lines, the American Manufacturing web site offered consumers this week a list of U.S.-made snacks, candies and treats that should be giving out to trick or treaters.

Finally, a brief note to wish the best for all those impacted by Hurricane Sandy, and a silent prayer for those who lost a loved one, a home, or their belongings to the wind and/or waters of that massive and deadly storm. 

Kudos as well to people like Michael Bloomberg, Chris Christie,  Andrew Cuomo and all those other elected officials who put their jobs ahead of their politics, and not only helped  many of their constituents survive the storm, but helped people everywhere see that it is indeed possible for a politician to actually be a leader too. 

And lastly, a deep and heart-felt thanks to all those first responders — be they emergency or health care professionals, volunteers, and/or just average citizens with an overwhelming sense of love, loyalty and dedication to their fellow man — who rose up and did what was desperately needed to be done.  I am not only in awe, I am truly in your debt and many of us will remain that way for many years to come.
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