From the Shop Floor — The Week in Manufacturing (8/16/2013

In one of those transparent op-ed pieces that often only seem to find a home in smaller papers around the country, the head of the Illinois Manufacturers Association this week called for an increase in this country’s commitment to fracking so that our manufacturers might grow through a secure energy supply and an even greater sense of financial stability.  Of course he did.  He’s a lobbyist.  He gets paid handsomely to do one thing and one thing only:  to advance his cause, regardless of the consequences.  That’s why yours truly, while acklowledging the importance of such professional water carriers, can’t put much stock in either their opinions or the things they say. 

U.S. manufacturing slipped a fraction in July, in large part due to a slight decrease in auto output.

In one of those great canary-in-the-coalmine stats to determine the overall strength of the manufacturing sector, honesty compels me to admit that U.S. cutting tool consumption dclined some 8.2% in June.

An Australian-based manufacturer of earthmoving equipment is opening up its very first U.S. plant, and in the process bringing 22 full-time jobs to the Fort Wayne (IN) area.

Meanwhile another Aussie company, this one a maker of laser tag systems, has recently set up a manufacturing plant in Colorado.

China is about to overtake the U.S. and become the world’s largest oil importer, something that we know all to well is a double-edged sword if there ever was one.

John Allan, the national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, says the manufacturing sector has the untapped potential to lift the U.S. out of its still-lingering recession.

Todd Lucey, in a somewhat related matter, says the way to re-energize manufacturing is to change the face of automation.

A public/private consortium on manufacturing competitiveness met this week in Albany (NY) for a little high-minded spit-balling.

The issue of the exportation of America’s growing reserve of low-cost natural gas gets a once-over from another apparent energy hawk, this one a professor of economics at George Mason University.

For more on both the upside and the downside of exporting from our growing energy reserves, especially our ever-expanding supply of cheap natural gas, I strongly urge you to check out this terrific story in today’s New York Times.  (And I’ll write more about my thoughts on this in the days ahead.)

How’s this for a sign of the times, if not better days ahead?  The auto industry increased its hiring by 9% in July and has increased hiring by 250% over the past four years.

Many Chinese companies are using a new weapon to try to keep pace with the shifting dynamics of the global marketplace: manufacturing intelligence.

And along those lines, check out this story of how China’s inaction in cases of corporate espionage is providing such corporate thieves a shield.

The Atlantic, meanwhile, tells us why China’s manufacturing “dominance” is misleading.

And finally, and again on the subject of China, it seems the country’s growing pains just continue to play out almost exactly as they did in the U.S. some two generations earlier.  Here’s a reprint of an AP story on how air pollution from China’s many manufacturing plants is really starting to take its toll on the country’s tourism trade.












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