From the Shop Floor — The Week in Manufacturing (8/18/2012)

Industrial Week tells us orders in the manufacturing technology sector dropped slightly in June.  The good news is, however, that thanks in large part to utilities and the auto makers, industral orders overall in the U.S. rose for the month.

Here’s another reason why, as a rule, Chinese manufacturers remain a full generation behind their U.S. counterparts when it comes to decision-making and cost/benefit analysis; they don’t have the institutional knowledge to keep pace and continue to make the kind of mistakes we made thirty years ago.  Case in point, this week Australia issued a major recall of two Chinese-made automobiles when officials discovered both models contained cancer-causing asbestos.

Former Obama official Ro Khanna tells Ken Sweet of Forbes that when he first joined the Commerce Dept. a few years ago he didn’t believe the U.S. even had a future in manufacturing.  Now, Khanna says, that’s not only no longer the case, but he feels that protecting U.S. manufacturing concerns should be a national security concern.

Despite ongoing problems in the U.S. solar panel industry, most of them caused by China’s continued dumping of government-supported, well-below-market solar panels onto our shores, small manufacturer Schletter announced it will relocate its corporate office and open a brand new solar panel manufacturing plant in Shelby, NC, a bedroom community of Charlotte, a move that will result in 305 new jobs.

Meanwhile in China, the founder and CEO of Suntech, one of the country’s leading solar panel manufacturers, and one of the richest men in the whole country, has stepped down from his post amid what has become a growing mountain of debt and more and more allegations of financial fraud.

Louis Guzzetti, Jr., CEO of Spinnaker Coating of Troy, OH, which a few years back reorganized and is now operating under employee ownership, extols the virtues of employee ownership in a recent op-ed piece for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

In keeping with the notion that U.S. manufacturing is rapidly re-inventing itself as a mostly automated discipline, Industry Market Trends says that equipment financing took a giant step forward in 2011.

Hal Sirkin, senior partner and managing director of the Boston Consulting Group, which recently released a white paper detailing U.S. manufacturing’s remarkably bright future, reiterates his company’s contention this week in the Huffington Post.

Steel output in China hit a nearly three-year low this past month.

Blogger Richard Gottlied wonders are Chinese goods becoming too expensive?

Meanwhile, in The Street, Bert Dohmen warns in an op-ed piece that the looming Chinese crisis is about to hit.

On the other hand, researcher and noted author Alan Tonelson blogs that there’s only one thing wrong with all these claims that China’s manufacturing is in steep decline; the facts say otherwise.

A once-dying Ohio town has announced it has won a major government grant to pilot a brand new 3D printing and manufacturing center.

A report was issued this week on the impact of regulations on U.S. manufacturers.

Another report says that carbon dioxide emissions in this country hit a 20 year low this past year.

According to the Des Moines Register, a staggering 89% of Iowans want a national manufacturing policy and would support programs to create and/or lure back U.S. manufacturing jobs.

And finally, Forbes contributor Mitch Free offers this great little piece which says that for many small manufacturers in this country, the U.S. is just not big enough anymore.



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