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5 Spring-Cleaning Tips for U.S. Manufacturers

This article written by Mark Troppe, Manager of Strategic Partnerships at NIST/MEP, originally appeared on the NIST/MEP blog on April 17, 2015

Spring has always been my favorite time of year. The flowers are out again in full bloom, it’s time to plant the garden, and baseball season is here again – Go Nationals!
My absolute favorite is spring-cleaning. Spring-cleaning provides me with the perfect opportunity to address all of the chores punted throughout the winter, go through and organize all the piles, and give my house a makeover. Spring-cleaning 2015 is proving to be a great success; the household is refreshed and renewed! 


Bringing Our Work Home - American Manufacturing

This article written by Al Veres, the VP of Operations at SFEG, originally appeared on the website on January 9, 2015

Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, the big push was to move manufacturing to Mexico. Then in the late 80’s and early 90’s, Asia became the new home for manufacturing. In each of these phases mega companies like GE, Siemens, GM, Ford were the early pioneers making the moves to manufacture outside the US. Smaller companies lagged behind and never felt the full benefits of being able to capitalize on low labor costs and having the advantage of beating their competitors.

All this has changed with the rising labor costs in China and high shipping costs that drive extreme lead times, coupled with large inventory carrying costs. I recall my boss, President of a large corporation, telling us that one day the pendulum will swing back in our direction. Here we are in 2015 and the pendulum is here. The flood gates have not opened entirely but the trickle effect is starting to happen.


Innovation Hubs Revitalize American Manufacturing

The great recession underscored some inherent weaknesses in the U.S. supply chain.  We have an employment skills gap, an uncoordinated approach to nurturing innovation, and an export imbalance.  Since 2011, the federal government focused on changing this paradigm and made American manufacturing a priority.  Under the guidance of the Department of Commerce/NIST, they developed an infrastructure with dedicated funding to rebuild our manufacturing sector. 


Survey Proves Consumers Want American-Made Products

This article written by the Reshoring Initiative Editorial Team originally appeared on the Reshore Now blog on October 15, 2014

It is no secret that the last decade has brought a surge in demand for products made in the USA. But it was only recently we realized how much the “Buy American” movement has evolved.

In a recent survey conducted by American Certified, 1500 people across the nation were asked the question, “Other than price/ quality, what factor is most important to you when purchasing a product?”


Making manufacturing a priority, locally and nationally

“Be adept and adapt” has become the new mantra for many manufacturing communities.  This approach is alive and well in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania where a group of manufacturers and local officials recently gathered to discuss how public and private resources can help support this vital industry sector.


Improve design versatility with customized plastics

Advances in the development of new and improved polymers have led many engineers and product designers to re-think their use of more traditional materials like metals in the manufacturing process.  Parts once thought of as impossible to create using plastic, are now being designed with polymers at a higher rate than ever before.

Plastic has historically offered many advantages over metal.   Plastic parts are lighter and afford more design flexibility.  They tend to be less expensive than metals and need little if any finishing or additional assembly.


What Keeps You Up At Night?

This article written by Ken Voytek, the Chief Economist at NIST/MEP, originally appeared on the NIST/MEP blog on January 21, 2015

I often keep myself up at night by noodling over some obscure question or asking myself why I ate that spicy lunch item. This got me thinking. What keeps MEP clients up at night? It turns out there’s already data for that so I can rest easy and get some sleep.

Iconic American Brands Made in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has a long history of industrial and manufacturing firsts.  Scranton, in the northeastern part of the state was the first city in America to be electrified.  Titusville, Pennsylvania was the birthplace of the oil industry.  Iron production first began in this state in 1716 and within 100 years coal was fueling industrial growth. 

Manufacturers benefited from all of this industrial development.  Philadelphia and Pittsburgh established themselves as hubs.  Philadelphia became known for manufacturing textiles, chemicals, metals, furniture and pharmaceuticals.  Ship building was one of the first major industries for this port city.  The western city of Pittsburgh became known for heavier industries including iron and steel production.  It was also the birthplace of the H.J. Heinz Company, makers of the ubiquitous iconic condiment we have all grown to know and love today, Heinz Ketchup. 


West Coast Ports Sideline Offshore Shipments

On Friday February 13th, there was a line of 27 container ships anchored at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach wanting to be offloaded. By Saturday, Valentine’s Day, that number had grown to 32.   This bottleneck is primarily the result of a nine-month labor contract dispute between the union representing the longshoremen and the ship owners.  The ship owners are accusing the union of work slowdowns.  To retaliate, the PMA (a trade group representing the ship owners) has canceled night and weekend shifts to avoid paying overtime to the workers.   It is estimated that the economic cost of one day of a lockout could cost $1 billion dollars.  If the dispute is allowed to escalate, shutting down all 29 west coast ports, the economic consequences could be substantial.  These ports handle approximately $1 trillion worth of cargo each year.  Los Angeles and Long Beach are the largest, handling 40% of all incoming cargo containers.