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Category Archives: General Industry Articles
In 1844, the extremely-satisfied-looking fellow you see below, Charles Goodyear, patented the rubber vulcanization process, which is the process of curing rubber with sulfur or other curatives in order to improve its mechanical properties. The discovery of vulcanization could be described as the first step on the path to the development of thermosetting processes and thermoset materials, and those developments were precursors to the development of modern plastic manufacturing. The development of modern plastic manufacturing sparked a paradigm shift in industry, and the implications for other aspects of life, for society, for the environment and indeed for the global economy, were tremendous. It’s no wonder Charles looks so pleased with himself. Continue reading
In 1999, the United States International Trade Commission undertook an investigation into whether or not extruded rubber thread (ERT) imports from Indonesia were causing material injury to an American industry. The Department of Commerce had determined that the threads were being sold in the U.S. at “less than fair value,” which, the committee determined, made it too difficult for American manufacturers of the same products to compete. The Commission decided that Indonesia was indeed “dumping” its extruded rubber thread on the American market. In response, the ITC instructed the DOC to instruct the Customs Service to impose duties on extruded rubber thread imported from Indonesia, effectively raising the price of the product for American buyers and making American-made products less unattractive in the process. Continue reading
Most of my encounters with quick release couplings involve pressure washers. When I was in high school, I worked at my uncle’s used car dealership between school years one summer. My responsibilities there included removing stickers from other cars, jumping dead batteries, filling flat tires and a myriad of other mundane activities. But my favorite task was washing the cars. Where I live, in the summer time, it gets very hot and very humid. Also, remember that a car windshield is like a magnifying glass for the sun. After a few hours of cleaning coffee stains from the upholstery of cars that have been baking on blacktop all day, the pressure washer starts to look pretty friendly. Continue reading
It’s a consequence of the fact that I’ve never participated in a trade or craft that I see the words “tube bending machine” and feel a bit nonplussed. Tube bending machine? Why not just make the tubes bent instead of making them straight and then bending them? I realize that this is the kind of question that someone who has never taken a shop class would ask (shop wasn’t even offered at my high school, as far as I know). Maybe there are machines that exist that can produce bent tubes right from the start. But the fact that there are so many different kinds of tube forming machines on the market, added to the fact that the market for these machines seems quite large, indicates to me that tube fabrication and formation is a counter-intuitively complicated process. Continue reading
What’s the outlook for Georgia manufacturing? There’s good news and bad news. Let’s start with the bad news: October was not a good month for Georgia manufacturing. The Purchasing Managers Index, a monthly survey of manufacturing activity released by Markit Group and the Institute for Supply Management, indicated an index value drop of more than five points in Georgia for the month of October. This drop brought Georgia’s overall PMI to just above 43. Based on the PMI scoring system, any figure below 50 indicates contraction, and any figure above 50 indicates growth. This month’s loss is a continuation of a trend that began two months ago. “It’s not clear why Georgia manufacturing is operating substantially below the level of the national PMI,” noted Don Sabbarese of Kennesaw State University in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Mr. Sabbarese speculated that the causes for Georgia’s poor performance may be related to the weakness of the state’s economic recovery. Continue reading
Pennsylvania is a manufacturing superpower. Don’t believe me? Consider this fact. If Pennsylvania were a country, its economy would be the 18th largest in the world, and according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, manufacturing accounts for 12.5% of the state’s economy and 90% of its exports. So why do so many people seem to be down on Pennsylvanian manufacturing’s prospects? Why is Pennsylvania included in conversations about the Rust Belt or about the decline of American industry? Does Pennsylvania deserve that distinction? It’s true that Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector faces real challenges today, but it’s important to think about those challenges in context.
Flag of Pennsylvania
Every good businessperson knows the importance of product quality and customer service. These two elements will always be at the core of good business practice, and without them no business can be successful on any sustainable terms. However, in a competitive environment, it is not always enough for a company to offer its customers exceptional products and service. In order to compete, a company must make efforts to make its products known to customers and to distinguish itself from competitors. The technical term for this process is marketing, and in the context of industry, marketing has always been important. Continue reading
In his autobiography, the author and comedian Lewis Black suggested that “…for an industrial economy, we don’t really make anything anymore. And one way or another, people still have to put food on the table.” Of course his second observation is right. Broad access to work and wage earning is a pillar of economic stability. But that access has become less of a guarantee to more people since the recession began, and the ensuing rise in unemployment and the decline of industry have been demoralizing. This backdrop could conceivably lead someone to make a comment like Mr. Black’s first comment. But look around you. How are you reading this text in front of you? Chances are that if you’re in an office or even if you’re at home, everything touching you except for the air you’re breathing is likely to be an industrial product, and many of those products were likely made in the US. Some of them may even have been made in New Jersey. Continue reading
You might not have known this about America’s Dairyland, but on a yearly basis Wisconsin’s agricultural sector is actually outperformed by manufacturing across several metrics by a wide margin. Consider these quick facts. According to the US Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of Manufacturers for 2009, Wisconsin was tenth in the nation in terms of its total number of employees in the manufacturing sector, 11th in terms of annual manufacturing payroll, 10th in terms of manufacturing worker wages, 14th in terms of manufacturing capital expenditures and 13th in terms of total value of manufacturing shipments. And let’s remember: this is out of 50 states. That means that 74% of the country ranks behind Wisconsin in terms of the total value of their shipped manufactured products. Translation: Wisconsin is an important manufacturing state.
Industry and Agriculture in Wisconsin.
Take a look at Illinois in the context of the USDA’s map of corn production by county for 2010. Look closely at the breakdown for Illinois, and you can see clearly that over half the counties find themselves in the 20 million+ bracket for corn production, the Chicagoland area being the most notable and visible exception. These may be the two things people think of when they think Illinois: Chicago and farmland. But what about industry? What about manufacturing? It’s fair to say that Illinois has historically been known less for its industry than for its agriculture. Even the most famous historical example of Illinois industry, the Chicago Stockyards, could be considered more of an agricultural accessory than a purely industrial operation. Is Illinois an industrial presence?
Illinois corn production for 2010
There’s a certain fatalism that pervades observations about the performance of America’s economy. Out of that fatalism was born the cynicism that generated the “Rust Belt” designation for parts of the American Midwest and Northeast whose industries were perceived to be in decline. They were decaying, people said. They were outmoded. Rusty. But consider, for example, the state of Ohio. Does Ohio really deserve to be placed on the Rust Belt shelf?
Flag of Ohio
ArtPrize, the international art competition, has returned for the third time to Grand Rapids, Michigan, the city IQS calls home. For just under three weeks, 1,582 artists from 39 countries and 43 US states will display their visual artwork for the viewing pleasure of an audience of more than 200,000 people, all of whom will have the power to either up-vote or down-vote submissions via electronic methods. The competition is unique among art festivals both in terms of the open, democratized process by which winning submissions are selected and in terms of the unusually large amount of prize money awarded to winners; $474,000 in prize money was awarded in 2010, including a $250,000 grand prize.
Downtown Grand Rapids
Downtown Grand Rapids Continue reading
For better or for worse, successful contemporary business models must include a web marketing strategy. Success in business is and always will be a function of product quality and customer service, but as the Internet becomes more thoroughly integrated into how people live, it must also become integrated into how people do business. There are two ways to look at this task that virtually all companies are now facing: as an obstacle or as an opportunity. Continue reading
As the economy recovers and the newly restructured manufacturing world emerges, IQSDirectory recognizes the evolving needs of the industrial sector, our clients and their clients. We have recently added to and restructured our page two company results to further improve Search Engine Optimization for our clients and provide easy to use navigation for our users. These subtle changes and updates will result in improvements to user experience and overall on page optimization. Continue reading
Why I advertise online… Being young and computer savvy in 1996 enabled me to quickly get an effective website going for our company. The awesome thing was how obvious it was that prospects were using it. I actually stopped measuring sources of leads by 2000, I think. During that time I learned to use software programs to analyze website traffic log files, and the very-cool-to-a-marketer ‘referrer’ data. I could measure the effectiveness of my advertising reliably for the first time! I learned enough to know that the ready-to-buy visitor was much more valuable to me. Sheer quantity of visitors was not the goal, but conversions were the name of the game. But whose referrals were converting? It was hard to tell in 2003. Skip forward a couple more years and I upgraded to browser-based website tracking (Google Analytics). I could do something even more amazing: I could correlate web inquiries with their source. Wow!!! Continue reading
Recently, a proposal has been made to alter and modify the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Adopted by 42 states within the U.S. alone, the code is designed to encourage energy conservation and limit the use of inefficient products and resources so as to preserve resources and provide economic stability and viability for all energy applications. While annual revisions allow the code to develop along with ever evolving technology, this particular change takes a step back. Though the intention may be to conserve energy and promote stability and safety in commercial, industrial and even residential settings, this particular proposal may actually eliminate a quiet, environmentally friendly and highly efficient source of heating, namely electrical resistance heating. Continue reading
In the past decade the number of cellular phones and mobile devices, as well as personal computers and laptops in use around the world has sky rocketed. With more access to and acceptance of the internet than ever before, online advertising has become a crucial component of most industries. The success of these campaigns has been relatively easy to determine. Track the destination URLs resulting from these specific ads to see how many result in request for quote form submissions or inquiries for information. In fact, up to 84% of online marketers do just that, looking at an ad’s click through rate to track the success of a Web-based campaign. While this information is valuable, it leaves many companies unaware of one of the largest areas for generating leads based on internet advertisements. Not even e-mail or request for quote submission forms can match the successful sales generated by one of the oldest means of customer service: the in-bound phone call. Leading Pay-Per-Click companies specializing in online marketing, such as ReachLocal and Top Spot, state that over 60% of internet leads are generated by phone, but still this avenue for revenue is too often overlooked. Continue reading
Lean manufacturing-if you’re in industry, I’m sure you’ve been hearing this concept a lot in recent years. It claims to be a systematic approach to identifying and eliminating waste while at the same time, improving the product and maximizing customer value. While it may be true that the recession and mainstream environmental concerns may have something to do with Lean’s new found popularity, it’s actually not a new concept, but rather the business model of many established and successful companies, including Ford, Johnson & Johnson and Lantech. Lean has been in development the last 5 to 6 decades, and the official term was coined in the early 90s. If switching to lean means a higher quality product and higher efficiency and significant savings, why isn’t every company doing it? Continue reading
With Earth Day less than a week behind us, the importance of environmentally friendly practices is still fresh in the minds of millions across the country and even around the world. The fervor of this global holiday unfortunately tends to wane as the year goes by. Slowly many slip into the comfort of old habits and relax on earth saving resolutions. This familiar pattern repeats year after year, until now. Now, several industries have made a permanent commitment to going ‘green.’ Studies project that nearly 70% of new jobs in the near future will come from the plethora of manufacturers across the board who are taking advantage of the growing market for green. While some go green by choice and others are pressured by enhanced government regulation, everyone benefits, including the manufacturers and an economy in recovery. Continue reading