Miles Free

As Director of Technology and Industry Research for PMPA, Miles brings 38 years of hands-on experience in areas of manufacturing, quality and steelmaking. He helps answer "HOW?","WITH WHAT?" and "REALLY?"

Posted by: Miles Free 22. April 2014

PMPA Member Wins Training Grant


Today’s technologies require today’s skills.

PMPA member North Easton Machine Company Incorporated is taking an active role in solving the skilled workforce issues it faces. Jon Holbrook announced recently that the company will be receiving $41,500 to help train 25 employees and create job opportunities for four additional staff over the next 2 years. This project is funded by a Workforce Training Fund grant through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The grant program is administered by the Commonwealth Corporation.

North Easton Machine Company is receiving one of 66 training grants awarded by the State of Massachusetts. The grants cover employers with training for a combined number of 4,631 employees and the creation of 453 jobs over the course of the next 2 years. 

PMPA members are actively engaging their communities to try to solve the skills gap. For info on skills training in your area, check out the PMPA Comprehensive Job Training Database.

Originally posted on blog. 

Posted by: Miles Free 15. April 2014

Demonstrate 'Safety First' Leadership

How many violations can you find here? (photo credit:


I really get annoyed when people tell me to do as they say, rather than as they do. How about demonstrating leadership behaviors that show us that you are serious?

It is incumbent on all of us to commit to a safer workplace. That means leadership by example is critical. If you wear your personal protective equipment (PPE) out in the shop, your employees will get the message that wearing PPE is important for them, too.

As for the safety culture at wherever this photo was taken, well, let’s just say I’m glad my son or daughter does not work here.

Please do not try to stage photos like this for fun. But if you have a favorite “don’t do as I do” safety photo, I’d love to share it with our readers.

Originally posted at blog.

Posted by: Miles Free 8. April 2014

Whatever Happened to ‘Thou Shalt Not Covet?' A Look at Tax Reform


Alan Beaulieu, president and principal economist at ITR, recently took a look at the Tax Overhaul Proposal authored by David Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means committee. What he reports is chilling for small manufacturers, prospects for employment and the economy. Read his blog post here.

A reduction in the corporate tax rate to 25 percent and a decrease in the number of personal income tax brackets are what you will hear about.

Those pesky details:

  • This plan would cause significant tax increases to those currently in the 39 percent bracket.
  • The loss of deductions and a phasing out of the benefit of the lower tax brackets would raise the effective rate to 42 percent on many high income earners.
  • The Brookings Institute states that a slice of America would be taxed as high as 60 percent.


Is your company a pass through tax entity (that is, not a C-Corp.)? Rep. Camp’s plan would place firms like yours at a significant disadvantage in that it would reach into the business income of these enterprises (income after the deduction for owner’s salaries) and make 70 percent of that business income subject to payroll taxes.

Does your company have a foreign subsidiary or operations? Double taxation may be in your future. Mr. Camp, and others, wants to reach overseas and claim a piece for Washington, and they not only want to tax income, but also brick and mortar investments.

Whatever happened to “Thou shalt not covet?” Do the folks in Washington really think that confiscatory taxation of the small to medium sized businesses that are the backbone of U.S. employment and engines for growth will encourage hiring and growth after this plan increases their taxable income by 70 percent (these businesses employ one out of every four workers here in the U.S.)?

I can’t think of a single way that this so called “reform” will encourage growth in the U.S. Maybe the recession of 2007-2009 was just a practice round.

PMPA has a contract arrangement with ITR Economics for business cycle analysis and reporting for our members.

Confiscatory may be the “new normal” for small and medium sized businesses.

Originally posted at blog.

Posted by: Miles Free 1. April 2014

New OSHA Recordkeeping Bulletin for Temporary Workers

According to an OSHA release, injuries to temporary workers go on the host employer's, not the temp agency’s, OSHA 300.

According to an OSHA release, injuries to temporary workers go on the host employers’, not the temp agency’s, OSHA 300.

OSHA has released a new educational bulletin for staffing agencies, and host employers on current requirements for recording injuries and illnesses of temporary workers. The new recordkeeping bulletin, which is part of OSHA’s Temporary Worker Initiative, addresses how to identify which employer is responsible for recording these work-related injuries and illnesses on the OSHA 300 log.

“The Recordkeeping Bulletin is the first of many materials we are releasing and helps clarify which employers are responsible for reporting injuries and illnesses,” says Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “These materials will provide valuable information for both host employers and staffing agencies on how they can work together to make sure their workers are properly trained and protected.”

The temporary worker recordkeeping bulletin helps businesses determine which employer is responsible for recording work-related injuries and illness on the OSHA 300 log. For more information, visit OSHA’s Temporary Worker page.

Originally posted on blog. 

Posted by: Miles Free 25. March 2014

Conversion of Hardness and Tensile Strength in Steels

SAE ferrous materials manual lists ASTM E140 standard hardness conversion tables for metals.

In non-austenitic steels and alloys, ASTM Method E140 standard hardness conversion tables for metals are the authoritative standard.

  • Conversion of values is only an approximate process, because of the different combination of material properties measured by each test;
  • Converted values are suitable for use in establishing specification limits; and
  • Converted values are subordinate to actual test values.

ASTM Method E140 paragraph 1.12 caveat:

“Conversion of Hardness Values should be used only when it is impossible to test the material under the conditions specified, and when the conversion is made. It should be done with discretion and under controlled conditions. Each type of hardness test is subject top certain errors, but if precautions are carefully observed, the reliability of hardness readings made on instruments of different indentation type will be found comparable. Differences in sensitivity within the range of a given hardness scale (Rockwell B for example) may be greater than between two different scales or types of instruments. The conversion of values, whether from the tables or calculated from the equations, are only approximate  and may be inaccurate for specific application.”

If your work requires a more detailed analysis of material hardness and correlation to mechanical properties, I recommend “The Mechanical Properties of Work Materials” by Dr. Edmund Isakov, published by Hanser Gardner Publications. 

Originally posted on blog. 

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