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But associations and grassroots organizations lack public awareness.
This issue's editorial is a reprint of the keynote address given by Michael Goldstein at the Computer Aided Gear Design Seminar held at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA on November 9, 1987.
If you've been following this space with any regularity, you know that grassroots efforts among industry and academia are springing up around the country to help win the hearts, minds and talents of young people in nudging them towards a career in manufacturing. Add another partnership to the list.
At the present time, technology seems to be moving faster than our ability to educate people in its utilization. this is particularly true of the manufacturing engineering profession.
A fundamental characteristic of the gear industry is that it is capital intensive. In the last decade, the gear manufacturing industry has been undergoing an intense drive toward improving and modernizing its capital equipment base. The Department of Commerce reports that annual sales of gear cutting equipment have increased nearly 60% since 1990. While this effort has paid off in increased competitiveness for the American gear industry, it is important to remember that there is another capital crucial to manufacturing success - "human capital."
Long-time readers of these pages will know that I have always felt strongly about the subject of professional education. There's nothing more important for an individual's career development than keeping up with current technology. likewise, there's nothing more important that a company can do for itself and it employees than seeing to it they have the professional education they need. Giving people the educational tools they need to do their jobs is a necessary ingredient for success.
AGMA has an excellent Training School for Gear Manufacturing. It's a great product providing a great service to the gear industry. Thus far we've educated 117 employees from 71 companies; students range from new hires with no experience to company presidents. Essentially every class since December, 1992, has been sold out.
Gearing is a self-training course for teaching the basic fundamentals of gears and gearing to those totally unfamiliar with the subject.
Economic times are good right now in America and in the gear industry. We're in the seventh year of an up cycle. The tough shake-outs of the 1980s and early 90s are over. Orders are up. Backlogs are at comfortable levels. We're looking at what promises to be the biggest, most successful trade show in the industry's history coming up in Detroit in October. The most pressing question on the immediate horizon seems to be "How long can the good times go on?"
Like many Americans, I've been trained with the idea that those who see a problem should be the ones responsible for helping to solve it. If you see that something is broken, and you know how to fix it, don't wait for your dad, your boss or the government to tell you what to do. Just fix it.
Siemens is helping the state of Georgia's STEM initiative by helping develop educational programs for the public schools.
Apprenticeship programs are back in the USA - sort of.
Kaukauna, Wisconsin may hold the secrets to solving the problem of our skilled labor shortage.
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) has been gathering, validating and sharing manufacturing knowledge for more than 80 years. Traditionally, SME resources were purchased by individuals for their own personal use or by colleges and universities as textbooks. Recently, these same colleges and universities were looking for digital resources to provide to their instructors and students. Companies were requesting SME content digitally for their employees as well.
For two days in Saline, Michigan, Liebherr's clients, customers and friends came together to discuss the latest gear products and technology. Peter Wiedemann, president of Liebherr Gear Technology Inc., along with Dr.-Ing. Alois Mundt, managing director, Dr.-Ing. Oliver Winkel, head of application technology, and Dr.-Ing. Andreas Mehr, technology development shaping and grinding, hosted a variety of informative presentations.
Getting and keeping a work force capable of meeting the demands of the 21st century is one of the key challenges most U.S. manufacturers face today. That's not even news anymore. I - and others - have been talking about it in editorials and speeches for ten years now. It's also not news that the job is a tough one and that industry-wide response often has not been particularly effective.
Bearings ain't beanbag. They are complicated. They are big-business. They are often counterfeited. They are used in virtually anything that moves. But it is the "complicated" part that challenges OEMs, job shops and other operations, and, most of all, their employees. Add to that the countless other entities around the world that are intimately involved with bearings and you can arrive at a semblance of an idea of just how important these precious orbs can be to a successful operation.
"Gear Train" is a new Gear Technology section focusing on training and education in the gear industry. For the first installment, we've focused on AGMA's online and video training programs.
The passage last year of both NAFTA and GATT has gone a long way toward leveling the playing field for American manufacturers and other hoping to compete in the global economy. Add to this news the fact that the domestic economy keeps growing, and it seems as though good times are ahead for the gear industry.
Publisher Michael Goldstein talks about how one gear company is encouraging young people in manufacturing. What are you doing?
"More than half our young people leave school without the knowledge or foundation required to find and hold a job." according to a 1991 report from the U.S. Dept. of Labor. A huge gap exists between the needs of employers (especially in manufacturing) and the training received by most high school students.
The following article provides details on the specific programs and learning opportunities discussed in the January/February 2011 article "Now, More Than Ever" by senior editor Jack McGuinn.
Gear education and training are vital to sellers, buyers and national security. This article explores gear training options available in the USA.
In the past, the coffee breaks and dinner events at Sigma Pool’s gear seminars have often triggered future process development and product improvements. This was still the case during the 2009 installment where customers and suppliers talked shop inside and outside the banquet hall on the new market and technology challenges currently facing the gear industry.
For years, politicians, educators and business leaders have generated various ideas to revitalize U.S. manufacturing and engineering. These include manufacturing initiatives, internal training programs and an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the classroom. The declining expertise in these fields, however, continues to be a growing problem in every facet of manufacturing and engineering.
Faithful Addendum readers are accustomed to finding upbeat, whimsical and oddball stories about gears in this space. What follows is not about gears, exactly. Rather, it is, as opposed to the usual bleak news about America losing its manufacturing mojo—a look at a positive, hopeful development in that regard.
Make no mistake -- lean manufacturing is here to stay. And no wonder. As a fiercely competitive global economy continues to alter companies’ “Main Street” thinking, that relatively new dynamic is spurring the need for “I-need-it-yesterday” production output. And for increasingly more industries -- big or small -- that means getting as lean as you can, as fast as you can.
Expertise is a resource that's hard to sustain. We're doing our part via our "Ask the Expert" feature. How about you?
In this issue of Gear Technology, we are focusing on using computers to their greatest advantage in gear design and manufacturing. In a sense, that's old news. It's a cliche to suggest that computers make our work life easier and more productive. No company that wishes to remain competitive in today's global manufacturing environment can afford to be without computers in all their manifestations. We need them in the office; we need them next to our desks in place of drafting boards; we need them on the shop floor.
"We have met the enemy and he is us," says Pogo, the cartoon character. The enemy is the crisis in our educational system, and "crisis" is the only term that accurately describes the situation. It is every bit as serious, if not more so, than the crisis that followed the Soviet launching of Sputnik in 1957 - and for many of the same reasons. Our failing public education system threatens our position int he global political and business arenas; and this time, it's not just the Soviets or the Japanese who need to be taken seriously as competitors. Every country int he world that graduates better prepared students than we do - and there are a great many of them - has us at a competitive disadvantage.
Following is a report from The Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI). Founded in 1933, the alliance contributes to the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing by providing economic research, professional development, and an independent, expert source of manufacturing information.
Forensics isn't just for tough-talking, crime-busting scientists--most commonly found on your television; the tactic also holds the key to successful gearbox design and manufacture.
Despite the many things being done to promote manufacturing nationwide, there still remains an acute need for gear-specific training, remedial or otherwise.
If anyone should ever need convincing that the state of American manufacturing is in ongoing decline, consider this: the state of Michigan has the highest concentration of engineers in the country, yet also has the highest unemployment rate. But there are ripples of hope out there as grassroots and otherwise organized groups are fighting the good fight in an attempt to reverse that trend.
State Schools Lack Funding. Who Loses? We all do.
It wasn’t so very long ago that a high school-educated, able-bodied person with a will to work typically had little trouble finding a decent job in manufacturing. Whether at an area job shop, an OEM plant or auto plant—work was to be had. Work that paid well enough to marry, buy a home, feed, raise and educate a family—with even enough left over for a modest retirement pension.
What was once recognized as the unique genius of America is now slipping away from us and, in many areas, is now seen as a "second rate" capability. Unless action is taken now, this country is in real danger of being unable to regain its supremacy in technological development and economic vigor. First Americans must understand the serious implications of the problem; and second, we must dedicate ourselves to national and local actions that will ensure a greater scientific and technological literacy in America.
An American renaissance in manufacturing is needed—and long overdue.
"Opportunity is the start of great enterprises." said the Greet statesman Demosthenes, and what was true 2300 years ago is no less true now. Plenty of opportunities which can grow into great - and successful - enterprises are waiting for us right now if we only have the foresight to take advantage of them.