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Showing posts from 2017

Energy Market Update: Factors and Trends to Consider this Winter

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Guest Blogger: Alex Paciga
Communication Specialist, APPI Energy

As we move into the winter season, there are a variety of factors that will influence natural gas (and thus electricity) prices across the nation. Weather, production, and supply are likely the most influential factors on natural gas prices this winter. We’re expecting a cold winter, and though natural gas production is at record highs, we’re entering the season with historically low natural gas supply levels. Additionally, though it’s more a long-term factor than the preceding three, we must consider the effect that increasing natural gas exports will have on domestic prices. Winter is traditionally a time of price volatility and, generally, higher electricity and natural gas prices prevail during the colder months. As 50% of U.S. households and businesses are heated by natural gas, and the price of natural gas is directly linked to the price of electricity, everyone has a vested interest in understanding what the marke…

Attracting a New Generation of Leaders

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Guest Blogger: Bill Frahm President, 4M Partners, LLC
Sheetmetal forming has many challenges and opportunities to offer students and new employees. New metals, new forming technologies, and evolving information and simulation technologies offer opportunities for engaged employees to shape the future. Adapting to change and leading the industry discussion requires the experience of seasoned employees, along with the energy and new ideas of knowledgeable young employees.

The market for talent is competitive. Your competition includes other manufacturers, Silicon Valley, Wall Street and government. Successful recruiting and retention involves attracting students to the industry and building a rewarding work environment. Unfortunately, manufacturing has to overcome negative perceptions.

The old Johnny Paycheck song, “Take This Job and Shove It,” has been around for 40 years. It’s been a standard of American blue-collar culture. The song’s sentiment counts among the reasons smart, young t…

An Effective Company Strategy Drives Success

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An Effective Company Strategy Drives Success by Laurie Harbour
Looking forward to 2018 many analysts predict it to be a strong year for the metal forming industry. It is however, critically important that shops have a sound business strategy to fully capitalize on the good times, while preparing for the challenges that may be ahead. 
All too often, we find that a shop thinks they have a business strategy, but really it is just a set of goals such as sales targets or productivity numbers and no path or guidance on how to achieve these targets. Most sales people tell us as that they don’t really have a clear perspective on ownership's strategy. A good place to start is with setting a sound company strategy and to do this a shop must look at the data it already collects. To develop an effective strategy, it is important for leadership to understand the current state of the business and dig into the operational data.
•What customers or products deliver the highest level of profitabili…

Manufacturing for the Future: A Commitment to the Next Generation of America’s Skilled Workforce

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Roy Hardy, PMA President
There is good news coming out of the manufacturing sector today.  Our industry currently employs some 12.4 million Americans.  That number is up by about 25,000 from last year and by nearly a million from 2010.  The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report from September 1, 2017 showed that hiring in the manufacturing industry continues to expand with 36,000 positions filled in the month of August.

American manufacturers are open for business.  We are hiring where we can and have more open jobs—hundreds of thousands of them—to fill.  Keeping the good news coming in our industry will mean finding a new generation of skilled workers to thrive in manufacturing careers.  The future is up to us.

MFG DAY

Manufacturers who want to help inspire young people to consider careers in manufacturing should consider participating in Manufacturing Day on October 6 this year.  MFG Day is a celebration of modern manufacturing, geared toward showcasing what makes our industry gre…

Buy/Sell: The True Value of Face-to-Face Meetings

How many e-mails did you delete today without even reading them? How many times did you intentionally ignore a web ad by scrolling right past it? How many video ads did you skip as soon as you had the option?

The probable answers: A bunch, a bunch, and a bunch. I mean, they were just trying to sell you stuff…

But for those of us whose job it is to sell stuff, this trend is unsettling. The same techno-communications revolution that has allowed us to reach thousands of potential customers through mass e-mails, web advertising and social media has also made it easier for potential customers not to be reached. With a few clicks they can simply ignore or opt out.

So what’s a metalformer to do? In today’s increasingly-digital business environment, where can you get the level of undivided customer attention that email and social media just can’t match? Well, you can go grab the old-schoolers in your office and ask them, or I can just tell you: face-to-face meetings.

In terms of attention and…

Manufacturing Process Methods Compared – When to Apply Master Schedule

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Content Provided By: Tom Titensor & Revolution Group

We can generally sort Manufacturing Business processes into three groups: Make to Order, Assemble to Order, and Make to Stock.  Make to Order is also known as custom build. Assemble to Order is used in repetitive manufacturing. And Make to Stock covers mass production of end products.

Let’s look at each one and see where to apply scheduling and planning tools for the best order to fulfillment timing.

Make to Order
Make to Order is the manufacturing process in which a large group of components can be made into very specific end products.

A printer may carry stock of many types and grades of paper and have the ability to create thousands of Ink colors. Skilled workers can use the tools and materials to create any item a customer may want printed. Then they can mass produce that Item into as many copies as the customer would like.

A die maker has large billets of steel in stock and with tools and produces very detailed dies to the c…

How Well Do You Really Know Your Customers?

Did you know that the average business-to-business (B2B) buyer reviews 10.4 sources in a typical buying situation?

Or that, according to recent research, most customers are 57% of the way down the path to a decision before even performing an action on a website?

These and more revealing stats help make up what Advance Ohio’s Digital Marketing Strategist Jason Plavic, writing for Metalforming Matters in late 2016, calls “The Evolution of B2B Marketing.” The new normal: Buyers are more empowered, and more knowledgeable, than ever before.

And now that buyers have upped the ante, it’s imperative for sellers to do the same. Sales and marketing departments in the manufacturing realm must evolve and embrace the changing, increasingly digital landscape in order to survive and thrive.

One way to do just that is to embrace the most ubiquitous buzzword in all of business: data. A recent survey of metalformers conducted by the Precision Metalforming Association (2017 Sales & Marketing Report)…

The Evolution of Sales & Marketing for Manufacturing

The original format of marketing existed in a straightforward, clear progression: consumers saw an ad, developed an interest in the advertised product and made plans to purchase it.  Unfortunately, that simple path is no longer common anymore.  Now, buyers find information through external sources and their own research to make decisions, meaning that a manufacturer’s approach to marketing must evolve.
This evolution flips the entire order of manufacturing sales on its head: instead of sales representatives approaching potential customers, buyers are coming to sales reps with their extensive research in hand. To stay relevant and in demand, manufacturers must consider the minds of their customers and how they can find the right products during their search for a solution to their problem.
Below are two areas to consider when updating your sales and marketing strategies for the new age:
Search Engine Optimization:  93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, and these searche…

Nearly Half of Metalformers Think Their Website Is “Just Okay”—That’s Not Okay!

Way back in 2009, before cars were driving themselves and quinoa was a word you had to know, Michael Bleau, writing for MetalForming magazine, noted that despite the importance of company websites, most “industrial manufacturers lag behind in having professionally produced sites.”
Today, most metalformers have caught up in the web-design department: A quick company search turns up sleek websites with strong colors and evident corporate branding. Yet problems remain, namely in what metalformers feel they’re getting out of their websites. 
According to the Precision Metalforming Association’s (PMA) 2017 Sales & Marketing Report, 86 percent of surveyed companies present their manufacturing capabilities through their website and 70 percent want their website to generate RFQ leads. Yet 42 percent of them say their company website is “just okay” when it comes to helping to develop new business. Eleven percent say their website is “poor” or “very poor.”   
That’s not okay! 
Your company…

Introducing PMA’s New President, Roy Hardy

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Roy Hardy President, Precision Metalforming Association 
With a pedigree steeped in engineering, manufacturing and our industry’s workpiece metals of choice, Roy Hardy assumed the leadership position at PMA as its new president on May 15, 2017. He succeeds Bill Gaskin, who retired at the end of May after 40 years of service to the metalforming industry.

A self-described third-generation metals man–his grandfather worked in a ductile iron foundry for 35 years and his father’s career was spent as a metallurgist at Huntington Alloys–Hardy has had a lifelong fascination with this type of work.

“As a kid on plant tours where my dad worked, I watched metal being poured, twisted, bended, recycled to be used again…I’ve always wanted to be a metals guy,” he says.

Graduating from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor’s degree in Metallurgical Engineering, Hardy worked his way through nearly every link of the metal-parts supply chain, then owned a company supplying steel mills, the heat…

Predicting Electricity Price Trends

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Guest Blogger: Kathy Kiernan Senior Vice President & Managing Partner, APPI Energy
Retail electricity prices are largely driven by natural gas prices. Even though your system operator (PJM, ERCOT, MISO, NEPOOL) is procuring power from a variety of sources—hydroelectric, wind, solar, nuclear, coal, gas—the way system operators pay generating plants is based on the last fuel used to meet demand, which is almost always natural gas. Therefore, the amount you pay per kWh is determined primarily by the current price of natural gas in your region. 
Retail electricity prices tend to follow trends in natural gas prices. Gas prices, however, are significantly more volatile than electricity prices. For example, when we see gas prices fluctuate by as much as 70% in a single month, corresponding electricity prices will generally move in the same direction, but by only around 10%. The change in electricity prices will also typically lag behind gas prices by a couple of weeks.
In the financial secto…

PMA 75th Anniversary Interview with Bill Gaskin

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PMA President, Bill Gaskin, shares his memories and experiences as PMA celebrates our 75th anniversary.
Q: How long have you been at PMA?
A: I am closing in on 40 years. Jon Jenson, who was president of American Metal Stamping Association (AMSA) from December 1975 through August 2000, hired me in February 1977 with an official “start date” of March 1, 1977.  (See below for more on this) 
Q: What is your current role? Have you held any other positions at PMA previously?
A: My current role includes being President of three separate, but related entities:
(1) Precision Metalforming Association, which is a 501 (c) (6) not-for-profit trade association
(2) PMA Educational Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit charitable organization supporting training and education·
(3) PMA Services, Inc., a for-profit company (owned equally by PMA and PMAEF) engaged primarily in publishing and management of other associations, such as Women in Manufacturing (WiM).
My first job title was Staff Repres…