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. July 2014

It Takes a Factory to Make a Manufacturer

If they don't manufacture anything, why should we call them manufacturers?

How can you call yourself a manufacturer if you don’t manufacture anything? The Economic Classification Policy Committee (ECPC) of the Census Bureau is considering changing the definition of manufacturing to include “Factoryless Goods Producers” (FGPs) as part of an update to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) 2017.

They say “A factoryless goods producer (FGP) establishment outsources all of the transformation steps traditionally considered manufacturing (for example, the actual physical chemical or mechanical transformation of inputs into new outputs), but undertakes all of the entrepreneurial steps and arranges for all required capital, labor and material inputs required to make a good.” Factoryless Goods Producer Fact Sheet

Buying stuff from other manufacturers isn’t manufacturing—it’s wholesale trade. If an establishment doesn’t actually manufacture something, why should it be classified as a manufacturer? If a company doesn’t have a factory and means of transforming inputs into goods, why should that be classified as manufacturing? If a firm doesn’t employ workers to transform inputs into finished goods, why is that manufacturing?

We submitted our comments on this issue.

Visit this link, then:

  1. Type in “NAICS for 2017″ in quotes in the search box labeled "Rules, Comments, Adjudications or Supporting Documents."
  2. Click search.
  3. Click “Comment Now!”
  4. Follow instructions for submitting your comments.

There are many reasons to oppose the creation of a type of manufacturer called a factoryless goods producer. I put a bunch of them in my comments. But you only have to ask one logical question: How can you call yourself a manufacturer if you don’t manufacture anything?

And how does that help create statistics we can use if “manufacturer” no longer means “a company that manufactures?”


Originally posted on blog. 

Posted by: Miles Free 15. July 2014

Memorandum Published for OSHA Temporary Citation Policy for Electrical Power Standard


On June 20, OSHA published a memorandum to regional administrators outlining its temporary enforcement policy for 29 CFR 1910.137(b) and 1910.269; and 29 CFR 1926.97(b) and Subpart V.

29 CFR 1910.137(b) and 1910.269 are for general industry.

29 CFR 1926.97(b) and Subpart V are construction standards.

This subject of electrical protection is in keeping with all of the attention that Arc-Flash seems to have at OSHA these days.

Click here to read the memorandum. 


Originally posted on blog. 

Posted by: Miles Free 8. July 2014

Industrial Press Engineers Guide Packed with Data


I am a fan of Lean, but the amount of fundamental data that Industrial Press has packed into this shirt pocket guide amazed me and will amaze you, too. It contains not only the math, geometry and trig functions that you would expect, but also the letter addresses used in numerical control, G-code addresses and M codes for miscellaneous functions.

It also includes drawing standards for ASME and ISO; conversion factors, inch to metric, metric to English, fractional to decimal, and hardness scales conversion; surface texture produced by common production methods; ISO fits and nomenclature for holes and shafts; screw and screw thread data; sample calculations for milling, drilling and turning.

Bonus content as far as I’m concerned, includes two illustrated pages on sine bar and dovetail slide measurement and calculation.

At $19.95 a copy, this reference could solve 80 percent of your shopfloor and engineering estimating reference needs. And avoid getting carpal tunnel from trying to "one hand” your usual reference. Click here for purchase the Engineers Precision Data Pocket Reference.

Well done, Steve Heather and Industrial Press.


Posted by: Miles Free 24. June 2014

Reinvigorate the American Dream through Manufacturing


“By almost any measure, the American Dream is in peril. The  robust middle class growth of the 1950s and 1960′s began to fade in the 1970s and the core elements of the American Dream—homeownership, (job security*), secure retirement and building a better life for your children—steadily eroded in the decades that followed.” -Milstein Symposium Report, Building a Nation of Makers, June 13.

The report indicates that manufacturing remains a vital pathway to middle class and achieving the American Dream.

Here are the six fresh, actionable ideas to expand the opportunities for middle class manufacturing jobs, restoring the American Dream developed by the Millstein Commission:

  • Talent Investment loans to expand human capital
  • Upside-down degrees to connect classroom learning with on-the-job learning
  • A skills census to build a more efficient skilled labor force
  • A national supply chain initiative
  • Fully map America’s manufacturing
  • Up-skilling high school students with expanded technology and engineering certification programs
  • A “big trends—small firms” initiative to diffuse the latest technologies to manufacturing SMEs

Together, these recommendations wield tremendous transformative potential.

These ideas are actually able to be done. They address remediable issues in the manufacturing ecosystem, outside of politics, which appear to be in perpetual gridlock.

These ideas are implementable. In future posts, I hope to show how in fact these are actually part of the existing work product of PMPA, and how the identification of these by the commission validates our work and strategic plan.

These ideas add value. PMPA has been involved in skilled workforce in manufacturing actively since the president first convened the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness (PCJC),  and ongoing through our work with other organizations, including MFG Day and Business Leaders United, various community colleges and others. Yet, there are ideas in the symposium’s report that are new and worth trying.


*Added by Miles Free.

Originally posted at blog.


Posted by: Miles Free 17. June 2014

A 4-Year Degree isn’t Necessary to Excel in this Field


The majority of the demand for skilled workforce in industry is in this area of engineering and production technology, requiring some post high school education or credential, but less than a 4-year bachelor’s degree.

The University of Toledo Engineering Department has a great graphic that shows where various jobs fit on the “knowledge worker” spectrum based on need for mathematical skills. We have added some additional thinking about “where the jobs are and what they demand.”

The occupations on the right side of the diagram demand less mathematics for daily work. These include: 

  • Distribution and sales would require counts and arithmetic to balance quantities, and sales orders and payment.
  • Operations, service and maintenance positions would typically use numbers to look up and specify parts, measurements for fits, and evaluate process inputs and outputs.
  • Production positions would use gages and hand-held measuring instruments as well as data from sensors to determine conformance to tolerances and to plot statistical control charts.
  • Senior manufacturing positions would take this a step further to determine offsets and “true positions.”
  • Testing and evaluation and quality control works almost exclusively with numeric data and uses coordinate measuring machines, optical comparators and gage blocks to determine conformance to print and capability of process.

The far right of the diagram’s dark blue portion corresponds to high school math, including algebra; more to the left the positions demand ability to use geometry and trigonometry. The production and manufacturing portions are typically best fit for persons with a 1-year credential such as a CNC operator certificate, various NIMS credentials, or 2-year associate degrees in various technology fields.

The left most portion of the light blue section is the realm of 4-year degree engineers and technologists and specialists (mechanical engineers, metallurgists, tooling engineers, chemists).

The white area on the left typically are positions filled by Master’s and Ph.D. level grads.

The majority of job openings in advanced manufacturing today require some post high school skilled training, but do not require a 4-year degree.

Technical workers are knowledge workers, and they are in high demand.


Originally posted at blog.

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