Smart Factories Could Add $500 Billion to Global Economy in 5 Years

by IW Staff | May 16, 2017

By now it is pretty much common knowledge that by using digital technologies like IoT, big data analytics, AI, advanced robotics and 3D printing, manufacturers will increase not only efficiency and productivity but revenues as well.

A new report, Smart Factories, by Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Institute found that some sectors, in particular, have embraced these technologies in the form of smart factories. Industrial manufacturing, aerospace and defense, and automotive and transportation are the specific sectors that have ongoing smart factory initiatives.

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Is Pennsylvania’s Proposed Warehouse Tax the Start of a Trend?

by David Sparkman | June 19, 2017

To help close a $3 billion budget deficit, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has asked the state legislature to extend the state’s 6% sales and use tax to commercial storage services, drawing strong criticism from business groups, especially warehouse owners.

Operators of third-party logistics warehouses and other business interests have mounted a campaign to derail the tax. It includes academic research sponsored by the warehouse industry that reinforces their contention that the tax would be counterproductive because it would drive warehouse and distribution business to surrounding states where costs would be significantly lower.

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Success of Alex and Ani & American Giant Shows American-Made is Good for Business

by Elizabeth Brotherton-Brunch | May 19, 2017

Forget patriotism. Made in America has been good for the bottom line.

Forbes is out with a new ranking of the “Richest Self-Made Women,” and Carolyn Rafaelian made the cover.

You might not know her name, but you certainly know her work. Rafaelian is the founder of Alex and Ani, the hugely popular jewelry company known for its collectible brass bangles and charms.

Rafaelian started Alex and Ani in a basement in her father’s jewelry factory in Rhode Island in the 1990s. Ralph Rafaelian had been making costume jewelry since the 1960s, but like many American manufacturers, ran into tough times as many jewelry makers shipped production overseas.

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Americans Believe Manufacturing Industry Critical to Country’s Prosperity

by IW Staff | May 11, 2017

A high percentage of Americans want their government to invest further in the manufacturing sector. A new survey from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute reported that quarters (76%) of Americans surveyed believe the U.S. should invest further in the manufacturing industry.

"Modern manufacturing has captured the imagination of the American public and our elected leaders, said Jay Timmons CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. “This important research indicates public opinion of the future of the industry has taken a measurable, positive jump as people acknowledge the strong connection between this industry, the U.S. economy and the American way of life.”

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Family-owned Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry handcrafts every door, drawer

by Robyn Passante, contributing writer, May 9, 2017 at 3:00 AM

In a region that’s rich with fine craftsmen and handmade products, Shaefferstown-based Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry has built a reputation for exceptional quality and attention to detail, one door and one drawer at a time.

“We mix state-of-the-art equipment with careful handcraftsmanship,” said Shane Achey, Plain & Fancy’s marketing specialist and the first third-generation family member to work full-time for the family-owned business.

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GE's 'brilliant' factory in Grove City puts new life in old engines

by Len Boselovic | March 31, 2017

Before he worked at a “brilliant” factory, Bill Knight used a machine that weighed 35 to 40 pounds to tighten 16 bolts on the frame of a 41,000-pound diesel locomotive engine at GE Transportation’s Grove City plant.

Mr. Knight was supposed to tighten each bolt in the proper sequence, much like a motorist has to tighten the lug nuts on a tire in the right order, to prevent vibration that can cause problems. There was no way Mr. Knight or his supervisors knew for sure if he did that.

That all changed when GE decided to convert the Grove City plant, which refurbishes the diesel engines, into a “brilliant” factory, a technology-enabled plant where workers can work smarter, faster and more reliably. 

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Tool and Dying: Auto Leaders, From Ford to FCA, Brainstorm on Saving the Shops that Sustain Them

by Laura Putre | April 27, 2017

Blame it on NAFTA or lax trade enforcement, but the Made in the USA journey has domestic roadblocks, too. Here’s one: the skilled workers who make the molds and tools used in automotive parts manufacturing and assembly are on the fast track to extinction.

Nearly 75% of tool and die makers are over age 45, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only 2% are younger than 35. Two out of five are either already eligible to retire, or will be in the next 5 to 7 years.

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