Archive for September, 2013

Second Annual Manufacturing Day Celebrates American Knowhow

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

The mission of Manufacturing Day 2013 on Friday, October 4th is to highlight the importance of manufacturing to the nation’s economy, address common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors, and show what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t.

Manufacturing Day has become an annual national event after its inaugural year in 2012 that is executed at the local level supporting hundreds of manufacturers across the nation that host students, teachers, parents, job seekers and other local community members at open houses designed to showcase modern manufacturing technology and careers.

In its first year, more than 240 events were held in manufacturing facilities in 37 states and more than 7,000 people participated. This year’s celebration will feature open houses, public tours, career workshops and other activities to increase public awareness of modern manufacturing. Events also will introduce manufacturers to business improvement resources and services delivered through the MEP’s network of hundreds of affiliated centers across the country.

By working together during and after Manufacturing Day, manufacturers will begin to address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing, draw attention to the many rewarding high-skill jobs available in manufacturing fields, and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the whole industry.

This year’s Manufacturing Day is being co-produced by the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA), the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), Industrial Strength Marketing which is a leading industrial B2B marketing agency, and the Manufacturing Institute. The national media partner for the event is the Science Channel.

“Manufacturing Day is a great opportunity to shift Americans’ perception that it is not our grandfather’s manufacturing anymore and to showcase the tremendous career opportunities manufacturing has to offer,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “This day is an engaging way to attract young people and get them excited about pursuing a career in a technology-driven, innovative environment that will also provide a good-paying job. We encourage all manufacturers and manufacturing associations to get involved and share what we already know—manufacturing makes us strong.”

A long list of trade associations and private companies have joined the effort as sponsors that includes Shell and the Alliance for American Manufacturing at the Gold level, The Association of Manufacturing Excellence, Precision Metalforming Association, SME Education Foundation, Association for Manufacturing Excellence, the Plastics Industry Trade Association, and IHS GlobalSpec at the Silver level, as well as many others at the Bronze level. The long list of endorsers on the website includes my own organization.

“We’re honored to be a part of Manufacturing Day this year and look forward to helping make it a success,” said Scott Paul, president of AAM. “An innovative and growing manufacturing base is vital to America’s economic and national security, as well as to providing good jobs for future generations.”

“The co-producers could not be more pleased that these organizations and companies, which work on such an integral level with all sectors of the manufacturing industry, are putting their full support behind Manufacturing Day,” said Ed Youdell, president and CEO of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association. “Their reputation and their reach to professionals in the industry, as well as educators and students, will help generate participation in Manufacturing Day events across the nation.”

The SME Education Foundation sees this is an opportunity for educators and parents to visit local employers with children, particularly those in middle school, to get them excited about the career opportunities available for those who have critically important STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills.

“The SME Education Foundation is dedicated to opening multiple pathways for young people to find fulfilling, high paying careers in manufacturing.  Manufacturing Day is an opportunity to highlight manufacturing as vital to our economy and a career path that helps to growing wealth for the individual and for our nation,” said Bart A. Aslin, CEO, SME Education Foundation.  “Positive national media attention can help to dispel misconceptions about industries that provide safe, clean work environments while manufacturing products that improve standards of living in our global economy.”

Supported by this group of co-producers and industry sponsors, Manufacturing Day is designed to amplify the voice of individual manufacturers and coordinate a collective chorus of manufacturers with common concerns and challenges. The rallying point for a growing mass movement, Manufacturing Day empowers manufacturers to come together to address their collective challenges so they can help their communities and future generations thrive.

From now until Manufacturing Day, October 4th, enter the Manufacturing Day Sweepstakes to win a trip for two to a 2014 race of your choice, courtesy of Shell Lubricants. Eligible races include any of the Sprint Cup Series or Nationwide Series races during the 2014 season. The winner will be selected on October 7, 2013 and will be contacted shortly thereafter to claim their prize. Click here to enter today!

According to the 2012 Public Perception of Manufacturing report by the nonprofit Manufacturing Institute, 80 percent of Americans believe manufacturing is important to our economic prosperity, standard of living and national security. Yet, only 30 percent would encourage their children to go into manufacturing as a career. The hope is that by providing media, educators, parents, and kids with an inside look at the high-tech world of manufacturing this percentage will begin to grow.

With the gap growing each year between the skills students learn in school and those they will need on the job, it is increasingly difficult for manufacturers to find and hire qualified employees. By promoting Manufacturing Day, manufacturing associations and other organizations led by NIST MEP centers and the FMA said they want to remove some of the myths surrounding manufacturing. For example, manufacturing is a solid, long-term career choice for qualified candidates—including the young people who will form the workforce of tomorrow.

Here is a summary of a few reasons why we should acknowledge the importance of manufacturing by observing October 4th as Manufacturing Day that are outlined in greater detail in the chapter on “Why we should save American Manufacturing” from my book Can American Manufacturing be Saved? Why we should and how we can:

  • Manufacturing is the foundation of the American economy, and high-paying manufacturing jobs spurred a robust and growing economy and improved our quality of life. Manufacturing jobs were responsible for the lower working class rising into the middle class the last century.
  • Manufacturing is critical to our national defense because American manufacturers supply the military with the essential needed to defend our country. Without a strong manufacturing industry, America could lose future wars.
  • Manufacturing wages and benefits are 25-50 percent higher than non-manufacturing jobs. Only 16 percent of today’s workers earn the $20/hour ? down 60 percent since 1979.
  • United States is the world’s third largest exporter after China & Germany. Manufactured goods make up more than 60percent of U. S. exports, and high-tech products are largest export sector – four times as much as agriculture.
  • Manufacturing supports states’ economies through the taxes they pay. Manufacturing is the largest sector in 10 states, second largest in 9 states, and third largest in 21 states. Losing the critical mass of manufacturing will result in larger state and federal budget deficits. Over 90 percent of all manufacturers are small businesses of less than 100 people.

In my home town of San Diego, Manufacturing Day is being promoted by the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, the County of San Diego, the City of San Diego, the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, the East County EDC, the San Diego North County EDC, CONNECT, California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (CMTC), the Tijuana EDC, and D&K Engineering. The day starts off with:

8 a.m.  Breakfast and Networking
8:30 – 10 a.m. Program
San Diego City College, Corporate Ed Center
1551 C Street, San Diego, CA 92101

Moderator: Mark Cafferty, President & CEO, San Diego Regional EDC

Panelists joining the conversation are:
Stephan Aarstol, Founder & CEO, Tower Paddle Boards
Alex Kunczynski, President, D&K Engineering

Rick Urban, COO/CFO, Quality Controlled Manufacturing Inc.

Chris Wellons, Vice President of Manufacturing, Taylor Guitars

Unfortunately, this event is already sold out, but you can add your name to the wait list at

Tours:  Following this Kick-off breakfast, you are invited to tour various local manufacturers who have agreed to open their doors to the community. Further information and registration to attend the tours can be found at Click on “Attend an Event” to find a tour near you.

To learn more about Manufacturing Day or to sign up to host or participate in one of the events, log on to www.mfgday. Organizations that wish to become involved as official sponsors of this program may email

Protecting Intellectual Property is Critical to our Economy

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

The U. S. economy has been the innovator of virtually all major technologies developed since World War II. The innovative technologies that American inventors and entrepreneurs have invented and developed have benefitted Americans in all aspects of their lives. American manufacturers have been responsible for more than two-thirds of all private sector R&D that led to these innovative new technologies. More than 90 percent of new patents derive from the manufacturing sector and the closely integrated engineering and technology-intensive services.

Innovation is the hallmark of U. S. manufacturing, and it requires a certain mass of interconnected activities, which like a snowball rolling downhill grows in size as it proceeds towards end users. Substantial R&D is required to keep the innovation ball rolling to ensure more successes than failures.

Manufacturing is an incubator for technology and science, so it is important that R&D be conducted in close proximity to manufacturing plants where innovative ideas can be tested and worker feedback can fuel product innovation.

Innovation and production are intertwined. You need to know how to make a product in order to make it better. “Most innovation does not come from some disembodied laboratory,” said Stephen S. Cohen, co-director of the Berkeley roundtable on the International Economy at the University of California, Berkeley. “In order to innovate in what you make, you have to be pretty good at making – and we are losing that ability.

In his book Great Again:  Revitalizing America’s Entrepreneurial Leadership, Hank Nothhaft, retired CEO of Tessera Technologies, writes that “In our arrogance and our own naiveté, we told ourselves that so long as America did the ‘creative’ work, the inventing, we could let other nations do the ‘grunt’ work – the manufacturing. We did not yet understand that a nation that no longer makes things will eventually forget how to invent them.”

Most cutting edge or break-through technologies are not generated by established, larger companies. They come from the creative innovations of entrepreneurs starting up companies. However, most of these entrepreneurs don’t startup their companies in a vacuum; they are most often started by people who have gained knowledge and experience at existing companies in a technology/product field and leave the company to develop their own innovative new product in that same field.

These entrepreneurs need to have protection for the intellectual property of their new technologies via the patent system in order to raise the investor funds they need to move forward in developing the technology into a marketable, producible end product. Angel investors and venture capital investors invest their monies in a combination of the entrepreneurial team and the innovative, even disruptive technology. If the intellectual property is not secured through a “patent pending” or issued patent, there is nothing in which to invest.

Economist Pat Choate, author of Saving Capitalism: Keeping America Strong, emphasized how important the protection of Intellectual Property is to the future of American manufacturing at the “Making California Thrive” Manufacturing summit last February facilitated by the Coalition for a Prosperous America. He said that the U. S. is the most innovative country in the world and issues more patents than any other country. However, the recent passage of the America Invents Act converting the U. S. from a “first-to-invent” to “first-to-file” is hurting our innovation. Most growth comes from “disruptive” technology developed by inventors/entrepreneurs of small companies, and the “first-to-file” favors large companies that can file a challenge against these small companies in the hopes of bankrupting them to avoid disruptive technology from harming their business.

In the last two decades, the competitive status of U. S. manufacturing has been increasingly challenged by the state-of-the-art technologies being developed by established nations such as Japan, Germany, Korea, and Taiwan. While emerging economies, such as China, are acquiring advanced manufacturing capability through R&D tax incentives and incentives for direct foreign investment, they still rely heavily on counterfeiting, pirating, and theft of American intellectual property to compete unfairly.

In the July 12th article in The Hill, Stephen Ezell, a senior analyst with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, wrote “IP-intensive industries are foundational to the U.S. economy. They contribute over $5.1 trillion in U.S. economic output, accounting for nearly 35 percent of U.S. GDP in 2010, as the U.S. Department of Commerce found in its report Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus. At the same time, IP-intensive industries exported more than $1 trillion worth of goods and services in 2011, accounting for approximately 74 percent of total U.S. exports that year, and supported at least 40 million jobs, or 20 percent of all U.S. private sector employment.”
He criticized the testimony that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) provided to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations regarding Insights Gained from Efforts to Quantify the Effects of Counterfeit and Pirated Goods in the U.S. Economy because it ignored previous reports of the International Trade Commission and the IP Commission.

Instead of providing new data, the GAO report laments the fact that “quantifying the economic impact of counterfeit and pirated goods on the U.S. economy is challenging primarily because of the lack of available data on the extent and value of counterfeit trade.”

He pointed out that the ITC report, “China: Effects of Intellectual Property Infringement and Indigenous Innovation Policies on the U.S. Economy, estimated that in 2009 alone Chinese theft or infringement of U.S. intellectual property cost almost one million U.S. jobs and caused $48.2 billion in U.S. economic losses due to lost sales, royalties, or license fees. The report found that, ‘Of the $48.2 billion in total reported losses in 2009, approximately $36.6 billion (75.9 percent) was attributable to lost sales, while the remaining $11.6 billion was attributable to a combination of lost royalty and license payments.’”

He added that the more recent “IP Commission Report, a report from the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property, found that the impact of international IP theft on the U.S. economy exceeds $320 billion annually, comparable to the level of U.S. exports to Asia.”

On June 20, 2013, the White House released the 92-page 2013 Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement. The press release states, “Since the first Joint Strategic Plan was released in 2010, the Administration has made tremendous progress in intellectual property enforcement. Coordination and efficiency of the Federal agencies has improved; U.S law enforcement has increased significantly and we have successfully worked with Congress to improve our legislation. We have increased our focus on trade secret theft and economic espionage that give foreign governments and companies an unfair competitive advantage by stealing our technology. We have pressed our trading partners to do more to improve enforcement of all types of intellectual property.”

It’s outrageous that the plan takes 92 pages to describe actions that are either the same as actions in the 2010 plan or are so ridiculously vague or redundant that they are virtually worthless, such as:

  • Support small and medium-size enterprises in foreign markets.
  • Coordinate international capacity-building and training.
  • Improve transparency in intellectual property policymaking.
  • Examine labor conditions.
  • Assess the economic impact of intellectual property-intensive industries.
  • Use legal software.
  • Educate authors on “fair use” copyright doctrine

What inventors and entrepreneurs need most is enforcement of current laws. Thus, the most useful actions in the new plan are:

  • Improve IPR enforcement efficacy by leveraging advanced technology and expertise.
  • Increase focus on counterfeits shipped through international mail and work with express carriers.
  • Evaluate the enforcement process of exclusion orders issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).
  • Promote Enforcement of U.S. Intellectual Property Rights through Trade Policy Tools

I seriously question whether this plan will enhance protecting America’s Intellectual Property. In addition, how will we know if it is successful if we don’t have current data on the extent of Intellectual Property theft and the damage it is causing to the American economy?

I agree with Mr. Ezell that the above plan “must be effectively implemented and the federal government needs to make it clear that it will no longer tolerate foreign entities counterfeiting or pirating U.S. goods, stealing trade secrets, copying digital content, or otherwise taking U.S. property without paying for it.”

Since innovation and creativity are part of the foundation of our country’s economy, we need to have effective enforcement of intellectual property rights to promote economic growth, ensure our global competitiveness, and protect the health and safety of our citizens. If we want to remain at the cutting edge of technology and innovation and maintain the critical mass of our manufacturing industry, we also need to protect the key to our future security as a nation and keep the R&D that fuels innovation and the subsequent manufacture of products within the United States.


Why it is Important to Know Where Products are Manufactured

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

At a time when more consumers are paying attention to where products are made and expressing greater interest in buying “Made in USA” products even if they cost more, there are changes proposed that could impact consumers being able to make decisions on the products they buy.

The first reason we need to know where products are manufactured is to have a clear picture of whether the nearly six million manufacturing jobs we have lost since 2000 have been mainly the result of technologic advances and higher productivity in the U. S. or whether outsourcing to foreign countries like China has been the main cause.

For decades, there have been companies referred to as manufacturers that I called “virtual manufacturers.” in my book. These companies have no manufacturing capability in-house. Sometimes they don’t even have the personnel to design the product. The founders of the company may have a concept of the new product they wish to develop and market, but they don’t have the technical expertise to do the design and development themselves. They hire outside consultants to design and develop the product or subcontract the design, development, and prototyping to a company specializing in these services. At the extreme end, they subcontract out everything from start to finish, including engineering design, procurement of parts and materials, assembly, test, inspection, and shipping to the end customer. They may handle marketing and customer service themselves, but sometimes they even subcontract these functions to marketing and customer service firms. There was no real impact on U. S. manufacturing data as long as these U. S. companies outsourced their manufacturing to other domestic manufacturers.

However, in the past 20 years, these virtual manufacturers have increasingly outsourced most or all of their manufacturing offshore. This resulted in U. S. federal agencies involved in economic data labeling them as “factoryless goods producers” and classifying them as “wholesale traders,” if they didn’t do any domestic manufacturing themselves. Apple, Nike, and Cisco are some of the more well known “factoryless goods producers” because of having their manufacturing outsourced offshore.

Now, U.S. federal agencies involved in economic data want to change the way they classify companies that have outsourced their U.S. production to foreign manufacturing companies. They are proposing to reclassify these “wholesale traders” as “domestic manufacturers.” This means that their sales would be counted as U.S. production and their products that are made offshore and imported into the U. S. for sale would no longer be counted as imports.

As reported in the August 20th issue of Manufacturing & Technology News, the purpose of this change is supposedly “to determine how much products are been offshored and to pinpoint the number of American companies that are linked to manufacturing, even though they don’t make the products they design and sell.”

For the past decade, “U.S. statistical agencies found that the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) did not provide a clear definition of companies that outsourced their production overseas, but that still owned the design and controlled the production and sale of goods from that foreign production.” A Manufacturing Transformation Outsourcing Subcommittee was formed in 2008 by the Economic Classification Policy Committee “to define outsourcing and identify “characteristics of establishments that outsource manufacturing transformation activities.” The committee was made up of representatives from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau and the White House Office of Management and Budget.

“The committee decided that all factoryless goods producers should be classified in manufacturing, the specific industry classification based on the transformation production process used by the contractor”  and recommended that the classification changes be implemented in the 2017 North America Industry Classification System.

There is disagreement on whether this change would be beneficial as it would impact a dozen major government statistical series, such as industrial production, producer price indexes, and industrial productivity.

In my opinion this change would result in data that is misleading and wouldn’t be giving a true picture of American manufacturing. We would not be able to know how much is actually being produced in the United States if we count imports from offshore as if they are domestic production. This change could radically increase U.S. production statistics and reduce our import statistics making our trade balance artificially look better.

A better way to find the answer to this question has been provided by San Diego entrepreneur and businessman, Alan Uke in his book, Buying America Back:  A Real-Deal Blueprint for Restoring American Prosperity. Mr. Uke writes, “Our future as a nation and as individuals is being threatened. Since our spending habits as consumers have contributed to this situation, we can change our spending habits to reverse it… in order for a change to happen, consumers must demand to be more honestly and completely informed about what they are buying and where their money goes. To this end, we are starting a consumer movement to bring this to the attention of Congress…The goal of this movement and of this book are to encourage people to change their buying habits toward purchasing things that help the U. S. economy and job situation.”

He points out that the current information provided on country of origin labels is “misleading, incomplete, inaccessible, or all of these…In order to support our economy and American industries, we must have easily accessible, clearly communicated, and truthful information about a product’s entire origins.”

Mr. Uke recommends that consumers be provided the country of origin information they need at the point of sale whether at a store or online and presents a proposal for the U. S. government to require detailed country-of-origin labels for all manufactured products similar to the nutritional information labels now required on packaged food products. He feels that it is important for consumers to “see the last place where the product was manufactured” and “to discern what portion of its components came from other places” by use of what he calls a “Transparent Label.” It would include the cost by country of origin by both percentage and trade ratio, as well as the location of the company’s headquarters. The percentage is the total cost of the product that is produced or transformed in a particular country. The trade ratio describes the amount of exports vs. imports for a country in relation to the United States. This label would enable consumers to make better decisions when they buy manufactured goods.

The second reason we need to know where products are manufactured is to protect ourselves from unsafe, defective, toxic, and counterfeit products. The U. S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission’s website provides a monthly list of products that have been recalled, and month after month, more than 90% are made in China.

A label similar to Mr. Uke’s recommendation would help companies comply with the new product safety standard (ISO 10377) recently released by the International Standards Organization (ISO):  The “Consumer Product Safety — Guidelines for Suppliers” standard (ISO 10377). The summary written by Dr. Elizabeth Nielsen, Chair of ISO/PC 243, Consumer product safety and a Canadian government Scientist, Regulator and Policy Analyst, states, “Regardless of company structure and organization, ISO 10377 will affect all suppliers irrespective of their role in the supply chain and all types of products whatever the origin.”

“Products should be traceable and carry a unique identifier that is labelled, marked or tagged at the source. This also goes for raw materials, components and subassemblies. Suppliers should insist on properly identified products from vendors and be able to trace products back to their direct source and identify the next direct recipient of the product in the supply chain.”

This standard has a different purpose for labeling than Mr. Uke’s label:  to protect consumers from unsafe, defective, toxic, and counterfeit products. “Products are safer when they carry documentation about the product, its design, its production and its management in the market…Suppliers should be able to recognize a product’s development through its documentation and trace its design, risk assessment, hazard analysis and testing decisions back to its conception.”

ISO 10377 is “aimed at small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as larger firms and offers risk assessment and management techniques for safer consumer products. This standard will allow retailers and OEMs to trace every part and component of a product through the supply chain to determine exactly where a defect or a counterfeit has occurred.” The standard is divided into four main sections outlining general principles that promote a product safety culture in a company, safety in design, safety in production and safety in the retail marketplace.

Either Mr. Uke’s “Transparent Label” or the label required by ISO 10377 would satisfy both reasons for wanting to know where products are manufactured. This type of label would provide protection for consumers from unsafe, defective, toxic, and counterfeit products and would help us to recognize the main cause of the loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States. We need to face up to the true cause of the loss of manufacturing jobs before we can get any consensus of what to do about it by means of our national policies. We need to oppose reclassifying “wholesale traders” as domestic manufacturers and support “country of origin” labeling by contacting our Congressional representatives.