Welcome to the Blog for Sand in the Gears, where you will find comments on topics of interest to the manufacturing world.

America, Inc.

Posted by on Jul 1, 2013 in General | 0 comments

When I worked as a management consultant two types of companies came to us for help.  The first type was companies seeking an edge, to go from good to great, maybe improve their ROE by a few points. The second type was companies that were in deep trouble and needed a new strategic direction, an overhaul in their operations, or a financial restructuring.  Today I am a stakeholder in an organization that is mired in debt, runs huge losses year after year, has given up market share to its competitors, has no focus to its mission, and can no...

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Posted by on Jun 1, 2013 in General | 0 comments

There has been a lot of talk lately about the resurgence of American manufacturing, how companies are bringing their factories back from overseas and making things domestically, and that manufacturing is leading the economic recovery from the Meltdown of 2008.  Any good news about manufacturing is entirely good news, but these assertions are only partially accurate, and perhaps not very meaningful at all. The broad economic indicators do show that manufacturing is “leading” the recovery, such as it is, but the context is important: there...

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Make it in America

Posted by on May 1, 2013 in General | 0 comments

Andrew N. Liveris is an accomplished executive.  Trained as a chemical engineer, he has spent his entire career at one company, working across every important business function including manufacturing, engineering, sales, marketing and general management. He now holds the top position at one of the world’s largest manufacturing companies.  The Dow Chemical Company generates $57 billion in annual sales while employing over 54,000 people at 188 manufacturing sites in 36 countries.  Now that’s a manufacturer. Mr. Liveris is also an author...

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High-Speed Rail

Posted by on Apr 1, 2013 in General | 0 comments

President Obama has proposed an $8 billion high-speed rail program.  The Lincoln Institute for Land Policy recently completed a multi-year study of high-speed rail and included an action plan for moving forward.  An ambitious program to develop high-speed rail in this country is said to improve our national infrastructure and would be a boon to manufacturers of rail equipment and supplies.  Unfortunately, what everyone is talking about is neither high-speed nor a good idea.  I’ll explain why at a later date.

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Minimum Wage

Posted by on Mar 1, 2013 in General | 0 comments

The President in his 2013 State of the Union address called for a higher minimum wage.  There is a lot of literature examining the impact of increased minimum wages and strong opinions about whether it is a good idea to do so.  I’ll have some comments about this and in particular its bearing on manufacturing at a later date.

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Advanced Manufacturing

Posted by on Feb 1, 2013 in General | 0 comments

Advanced manufacturing is the name given to a subset of manufacturing activities that comprise a high information-technology or automation component in an application using emerging or novel materials and processes.  It is often easier to identify advanced manufacturing by the domains universally considered to apply: nanotechnology, renewable energy, robotics, and bioengineering, for example.  Yet as a paradigm for policy decision-making it is a flawed and unworkable concept.  I’ll explain why at a later date.

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Gasoline Taxes

Posted by on Jan 1, 2013 in General | 0 comments

Governments love to talk about raising taxes on gasoline.  The demand for gasoline is inelastic: the revenue-raisers know we will buy our fuel regardless of its cost, and it takes time for us to switch modes of transportation when oil skyrockets.  Opponents see taxes on gasoline as just another form of revenue and resist efforts to incerase them.  I’ll have more to say about this issue and why it is of importance to the manufacturing sector at a later date.

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