Thursday, April 29, 2010

What's happening with Fed Rate

Fed Leaves Key Interest Rate Unchanged
As expected, the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee yesterday kept its target for the federal funds rate at between zero and 0.25 percent. The committee again said the low rates are likely to continue for “an extended period.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Economy for April 2010

The manufacturing economy continues its slow and steady recovery. Good thing.  The collapse was so dramatic that the entire durable goods supply chain retreated by almost 50%.  Once production levels have been scaled back, getting back up to speed and synchronized is the most complex management problem in business.  Any attempt to ramp faster would be met with supply starvation.

With durable goods now leading the way it looks like a real recovery is under way.  Auto retail sales increases also bode well for sustainability.  Only housing remains on the sidelines.  With the long delays in cleaning up the foreclosure mess, this may hang on for a while.  We now find that 40% of the homes processed through the government aid program are in foreclosure again.

-          Industrial production was off 0.1% month-to-month.  Probably not a serious issue give the strong January performance.
-          Durable goods new orders increased 0.9% in February.
-          Durable goods shipments declined slightly; now balanced with orders.
-          Durable goods employment grew by 21,000. 
-          Durable goods deliveries are still slow (average 5.5 months vs. normal of 4).
-          Core retail (excludes autos, gas, food service) grew again, this time by 0.8%. Now above record year of 2008.
-          Autos grew by 6.7% in February.  First serious growth in two years.
-          Capacity utilization is still well below normal levels.  Long way to go to get back to normal.
-           Health care legislation has started a rush by manufacturers to seek alternatives.  Major write downs due to increased costs is just the beginning.  Attempts to control costs via price controls will produce the same result as under Nixon and Carter.  Expect much higher costs and problems with availability and quality.
-          Paul Volker (Obama Economic Advisor) is floating the idea of a value added tax and/or a carbon tax as ways to deal with the huge deficit projections.  Either will damage the economy. See more info next month.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How's Manufacturing doing in the U.S. Economy Today

I thought that I'd give you a look at how manufacturing in general is looking in the U.S. today. A good friend of mine, writes monthly comments on the government reported statistics on GDP. His name is John Leyden and here's how to find him:
John Layden
Prevel Technology

The economic data in durable goods has shown additional signs of slow but stable growth.  There are no signs of a strong or rapid recovery.  However, there are still no direct signs of a double dip recession, although concerns over commercial real estate loans are getting a lot of attention.  Residential housing market remains depressed.

With all the attention focused on the health care debate you may have missed the news on energy supplies.  New mega-field oil discoveries are at an all time high, estimated and proven reserves are at an all time high and soaring, natural gas is nearing a 100 year supply (20 years is normal).  Exxon “unexpectedly” reported new discoveries at 133% of production for the 16th consecutive year. But the US government continues to block development.

-          GDP for Q4 was 1.5% above Q3. Annualized at 5.9%.
-          Industrial production was up 1% month-to-month.
-          Durable goods new orders increased 2.6% in January.  December revised to +1.8%.
-          Durable goods shipments declined slightly; now balanced with orders.
-          Durable goods employment stabilized
-          Durable goods deliveries are still slow (average 5.5 months). Typical level is almost a third faster.
-          Autos remained at the “new normal” (depressed) level.  Capacity utilization is flat at 51%.
-          Single family housing starts and sales declined. New single family for sale at an all time low.
-          There are calls for the resignation of the head of the UN-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in the wake of manipulated and fabricated evidence.  He was the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.   Moves in Congress to block EPA attempt to regulate CO2 as  pollutant are surfacing.
tjos was just a summary, so if you'd like the whole GDP report just e-mail John at Preval Tech

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The difference Americans and those who seek to represent us.

As an American and as a manufacturer that has to earn a buck in this climate of spiraling Health costs and probably escalating taxes, I worry about where Washington is taking us. I can't take credit for this little story, but I will pass it along to you since it clearly points to why we need sweeping changes in the cast of characters that we send to our Capital in the name of "representing we the people"
A small town had a local barber shop, and one day the florist from down the street and walked in to get a hair cut. He sat in the chair and the barber proceeded to give him his usual hair cut.After the cut, he asked about his bill, and the barber replied, 'I cannot accept money from you, I'm doing community service this week.The florist was pleased and left the shop.
When the barber went to open his shop the next morning, there was a 'thank you' card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door. 

Later, a cop came in for a haircut, and when he tried to pay his bill, the barber again replied, 'I cannot accept money from you, I'm doing 
community service this week. 

The cop too was happy and left the shop.          

The next morning when the barber went to open up, there was a 'thank you' card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door. 

Then a Congressman came in for a haircut, and when he went to pay his bill, the barber again replied, 'I cannot accept money from you.  I'm 
doing community service this week.'  The Congressman was very happy and left the shop. 

The next morning, when the barber went to open up, there were a dozen Congressmen lined up waiting for a free haircut. 

And that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between the citizens of our country and the politicians who run it.
         Just a short commentary on who we sent to Washington from:
                           The "Wiz"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Product Design and Development

Recently I asked our contributing editor Werner how he goes about starting a new project... Here's what he had to say:

Hi All,

In the Development Process for the project the start is of course the initial idea. To realize the idea we would start out with product sketches encompassing form and function.

Then we will start a concept model in Pro/E and coordinate all materials from the initial work session with the client and go on with the design process, however complicated.

After a week or two we would have our first design review
with the client to check our objectives and go on with the
first design model.

We would go ahead in a chosen direction and after a few
more reviews and refinements we have our first design ready
to prototype.

  • If it is a simple design program it can take 1 to six weeks.
  • Moderate design programs take 6 to 12 weeks
  • Extensive design programs last the duration of time by nature + complexity
A Good Idea + A Good Development Plan = A Good Outcome

-Werner Karwinski
Design & Development

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What's this Blog all about

The idea is one that I’ve had for a very long time and tried to get working when I was the CHAIRMAN of the Machine Tool Builders trade association.

I want the Blog to be a place where potential Customers can come and ask questions and get some direction. The real objective is to direct them to the Lake County Technologies web site “where the advice is always free”. On the Lake County web site (under construction) our effort will be to develop the concept for design, tooling, automation or production with the customer and then recommend potential suppliers if the customer requires help in that department. With this effort, I am counting on my reputation being good enough that people will respect that I shoot straight, and that the referral will be genuinely directed to where the customer can get the “Right” help.

So where does all this go?

I’m not completely sure but so far I have been able to match my customers with some of my suppliers.  I set up my parts maker with a customer that needs production parts. One of my customers now makes parts for another customer as a result of working with Lake County Technologies (LCT-Inc.). The objective is to create within LCT-Inc. “Your Network to Manufacturing Excellence”.

This whole idea is one that many of you have heard me talk about over beers; Every one in this industry thinks that they are the only ones that can build that Rocket-ship to the moon. We all know that's not exactly true and that if we all worked together it would be more productive and profitable for everyone; but no one is willing to take the first step…....until now.

I’m taking the first step, and I want to promote the blog and the web site as THE PLACE TO GO FOR MANUFACTURING QUESTIONS: automation, machining, sourcing, etc. We have a custom molder, a fastener source, a stamping source, an Asian Tooling manufacturer, and the current network can get you wheels, casters, special fasteners, and investment cast parts at prices that beat the competition by 50% if volumes are over 500 parts/yr.

That’s my entire story and that’s what Lake County Technologies is all about. It used to be Lake County Equipment, but we have found in the last 6 months that we do a lot beyond EQUIPMENT. We’ve done turn-arounds, and project management, installed MRP and even helped emerging companies get their accounting systems set up. We hope to shortly have an accounting (CPA) firm as a blog contributor. We are really trying to be the one stop where YOU (Mr. emerging/struggling/new MANUFACTURER) can get not just answers, and not just consulting, but YOU can get RESULTS.

So, you get on the blog, and respond or author anything that you want as long as it’s not too commercial. I would recommend that you respond to the Lake County Technologies “The Network that Works”.

Thanks for your interest; I really think that this idea can work and that we can make the USA stronger and bring back manufacturing to our shores. We can’t do it alone: we can only do it as a team or network and by working together.