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EPA Seeks Comment on Draft Guidance for Nanoscale Materials Reporting Rule

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made available on May 16, 2017, and requested comment on a draft guidance document, “Guidance on EPA’s Section 8(a) Information Gathering Rule on Nanomaterials in Commerce.” This column discusses the draft guidance.

The draft guidance provides answers to questions EPA has received from manufacturers, including importers and processors of certain chemical substances when they are manufactured or processed at the nanoscale as described in the Jan. 12, 2017, final Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 8(a) rule. The final rule requires one-time reporting for existing discrete forms of certain nanoscale materials, and a standing one-time reporting requirement for new discrete forms of certain nanoscale materials. The rule was years in the making, and is believed by many to be somewhat confusing and difficult to apply to real world settings. The guidance is both a step in the right direction and much needed, but comment upon it will be essential to make the guidance more serviceable.

Profitability

Three Steps to Becoming a Customer-Obsessed Manufacturer

By Terri Hiskey

Sixty-four percent of businesses around the globe reported profit growth last year but how was this achieved? The most successful businesses strive for growth, embrace digital and are constantly looking for ways to deliver and exceed customer expectations.

Digital transformation and evolving customer expectations now combine to create a more transparent operating and trading environment than ever before. Becoming customer-obsessed in acquiring, serving and retaining customers is no longer a differentiator, but a necessity for modern manufacturers.

To grow their business, manufacturers need to become customer-centric in the design of their systems, processes and practices, and instil a culture that supports a customer-focused operating model.

IntlTrade

International Tax Regulations and Implications for U.S. Manufacturers

By Matthew Walsh

Throughout his presidential election campaign, then candidate Donald Trump often stated that global trade is hurting United States workers by driving manufacturing jobs out of the country. In response, he promised to change the rules and revisit regulations surrounding trade and taxes in an effort to make imports less attractive and bring American manufacturing jobs back into the United States. Now that the new president is in office, tax reform is a central focus in Washington. The new expansive trade policies that directly impact manufacturers and the movement of goods coincide with new tax rules, that will likely further impact imports and exports. To help U.S. manufacturers better understand the impact of potential new policies, let’s examine the three aspects of global tax regulations that most directly affect manufacturers and the movement of goods.

Employees

As more states legalize the drug, employers in the manufacturing sector have some decisions to make.
By Steve Sawin

Imagine you have an employee who reports to work on time every day, completes his duties as assigned, and leaves every day without causing any problems. Now imagine that this employee occasionally smokes marijuana on the weekends. Does your opinion of his work change?

This isn’t just a hypothetical situation for many employers, including many manufacturers. As more states pass laws legalizing marijuana use, employers may need to amend their employment policies.

The confusing state of American marijuana laws
Marijuana is legal for medical use in more than half of American states. In eight states, the drug is legal (or will be soon) for recreational use.

However, possession of marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and this seems unlikely to change under the Trump administration. In February, Attorney General Jeff Sessions told reporters: "My view is that we don't need to be legalizing marijuana."

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Automotive

There is good and not-as-good news coming from suppliers to automotive OEMs, but tool shops are finding ways to succeed. 

The Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA) and Harbour Results Inc. (HRI) released the results of their Q2 2017 Automotive Tooling Barometer. The tooling industry is experiencing a slightly slower second quarter compared to quarter one, however capacity utilization for both mold and die tool makers is still well above 80 percent. Shops with revenue ranges of $40 million and above are experiencing peak capacity utilization rates of 95 percent.

“There is still a large discrepancy between tool shops who are very busy, and those who are not,” says Laurie Harbour, president and CEO of HRI. “In fact, we’re seeing the standard deviation in the market widening as the year progresses, and the smallest mold shops are struggling to even maintain 60 percent utilization.”

The clearly cyclical nature of work-on-hold continues, as it rises back above 11 percent. The Detroit Three (D3) are driving significant delays for suppliers. Despite increased program delays, overall sentiment (a tool shop’s general outlook for the next three months) is still at record highs at above 80 points.

West

With embedded, data-centric security and dynamic data protection for CAD and PLM, Vera helps manufacturers secure designs, products and innovation throughout the supply chain.

Vera, a leader in data-centric security, is partnering with Autodesk and PTC, industry leaders in the global computer-aided design (CAD) market. Although manufacturers account for 12 percent of the total U.S. GDP and 80 percent of privately held patents, companies today still lack effective tools to control designs once shared with contractors, third parties or foreign suppliers. With embedded, always-on security that travels with the data, Vera offers the first solution that protects CAD files and data in product lifecycle management (PLM) systems with persistent security and control. With a 360-degree audit trail, dynamic permissions and a frictionless user experience, Vera is closing a critical data loss vector for manufacturers.    

“CAD and PLM solutions are the beating heart of innovation for thousands of companies and define billions of dollars in products and IP every year,” says Ajay Arora, CEO and co-founder of Vera. “Because of this, these designs are a rich target for IP theft that can result in untold millions of lost dollars. That stops today. While Autodesk and PTC are known for their excellent security, the problem has always been a complete lack of control once designs leave these systems or are shared with external partners. Now, Autodesk and PTC users worldwide can maintain total control over their designs and trade secrets throughout the supply chain.”

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Technology

What’s New in Air Caster Technology?

By John Massenburg

The technology behind air casters has been around for decades, but its evolution in recent years explains why industry is looking more closely at air casters as a preferred mover of heavy loads. It may seem hard to believe that hovercraft technology, once closely associated with table air hockey games, has developed into a widely used and essential industrial tool. The fact is that the relatively small air caster, thanks to its technological upgrades and enhancements, has become a viable alternative to traditional load moving solutions such as wheels, rollers, rails and cranes because of its flexibility, ease of maneuvering and, perhaps most important, time and workforce efficiencies. 

The science behind air casters is relatively unchanged. A thin film of compressed air is created under the air caster providing almost friction free movement, in addition to inflation of the air caster element for lift.  These actions combine to provide a unique system capable of moving loads from 1,000 pounds to as much as 5,000 tons in a factory production environment. Unlike other traditional moving solutions, air casters are omnidirectional and flexible enough to complete equipment movement in nearly any location on the plant floor. By contrast, traditional load moving solutions require more personnel and time to adjust the move path and final location.

SouthPhoto

Girlstart gains a new donor, allowing it to continue building girls’ interest and engagement in the STEM fields.

In an effort to continue to support programs that encourage girls at an early age to embrace STEM-related subjects in school and to embolden them to pursue careers in technology, orderTalk Inc., a leading provider of restaurant online ordering software and services, has donated $5,000 to select Girlstart summer camps and after school programs nationwide. orderTalk’s donation demonstrates the importance of supporting STEM, which can have a big impact on manufacturing.

“As the CEO for a progressive digital ordering company that develops software for the restaurant industry, the demand for innovative food ordering solutions is exploding, and with it the need for qualified and talented employees,” says orderTalk CEO Patrick Eldon. “We need to recalibrate the gender imbalance in the computer programing and software development industries and the best way to do that is to continue to support, encourage and inspire students at a young age.”

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