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 25. November 2014

Teaching Manufacturing at High Schools is Becoming Popular

Miles Free.

Titled “More High Schools Teach Manufacturing Skills,” the article confirms that ”U.S. high schools that have launched or revived manufacturing programs in recent years to guide students toward good-paying jobs and help fill a critical shortage of skilled machinists, welders and maintenance technicians.”

Here are a couple of points the article makes that are worth sharing:

  • There is a glaring imbalance in the labor market. Despite high unemployment since the recession, manufacturers still struggle to fill hundreds of thousands of job openings.
  • Manufacturing is dogged by an outdated image
  • Because you’re working with computers and robots that are doing what you used to do by hand, it requires a skill set (in math and science) above what was required a generation ago.
  • Community colleges also are turning out more prospective employees, but not keeping up with demand. Nationwide, community colleges awarded 1,557 associate degrees or certificates in manufacturing last year, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. That’s up from 616 in 2005, but below the almost 1,600 doled out in 2000.

In addition, the "USA Today" piece has some informative graphics and video clips.

But the best takeaway from this piece is a quote from a student whose engagement with the manufacturing class has improved his grade performance and motivation:“With this class, I have the motivation … It’s a way out, I don’t want to be working at McDonald’s.”

Thank you, "USA Today," for this positive story.

Originally posted on blog. 

Posted by: Miles Free 18. November 2014

OSHA Reporting Requirements for Employers Go into Effect Soon


A new wallet card issued by OSHA will help your supervisors understand the changes to Injury and Illness Reporting Requirements that go into effect in January.

Under the final rule, employers must report the following events:
    1. Each fatality resulting from a work-related incident, within 8 
hours of the death. 
This requirement applies to all fatalities 
occurring within 30 days of a work-related incident. See Sec.  
1904.39(a)(1) and (b)(6).

    2. Each in-patient hospitalization resulting from a work-related 
incident, within 24 hours of the hospitalization. 
This requirement 
applies to all in-patient hospitalizations occurring within 24 hours of 
a work-related incident. See Sec. 1904.39(a)(2) and (b)(6).

    3. Each amputation resulting from a work-related incident, within 
24 hours of the amputation.
 This requirement applies to all amputations 
occurring within 24 hours of a work-related incident. See Sec.  
1904.39(a)(2) and (b)(6).

    4. Each loss of an eye resulting from a work-related incident, 
within 24 hours of the loss of an eye. 
This requirement applies to all 
losses of an eye occurring within 24 hours of a work-related incident. 
See Sec. 1904.39(a)(2) and (b)(6).

These requirements go into effect Jan. 1 next year.

Get the wallet card and review the upcoming changes with your team now. 


Originally posted on blog.


Posted by: Miles Free 11. November 2014

PMPA Member Featured in STEM Magazine


Miles Free.

Precision Plus Inc. is featured in the latest issue of Wisconsin STEM Pathways Magazine. The article, entitled Companies in the Classroom–Putting the Classroom in the Workplace, chronicles the company’s 2-year journey from a concept to the reality of having an internship and an apprenticeship program for high school and college students, as well as a fully equipped classroom within its facilities.

PMPA member companies recognize the challenge of finding a skilled workforce. That’s why companies like Precision Plus are actually doing something about it, and why we are actively working locally and nationally to make a difference and change the conversation about skills and careers and economic success.

Congratulations to Precision Plus Inc. for leading the way to create the skilled workforce our industry needs.


Originally posted on blog. 

Posted by: Miles Free 4. November 2014

Equipment Upgrades Equal Workforce Upgrades


Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Julia K Hathaway announced the award.

Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was recently awarded a JOBS1st PA Tech Grant of $148,970 to upgrade equipment in the Machine Tool and CAM Technology and Automotive Collision Repair Technology Applied Science degree programs. Funds will be used to purchase a CNC VMC and a CNC turning center for the manufacturing program.

PMPA wrote a letter to support the grant application in June. The letter noted that the grant would “build regional capacity in small and mid-size businesses that do precision machining.”

How important is that? According to PMPA research, “We know of 45 precision machining firms (NAICS 332721) in Pennsylvania with annual sales ranging from $250,000 to $33 million. The average industry shop within PMPA has about $8 million in sales. A recent study shows that 80 percent of manufacturers cannot find skilled talent to fill their production jobs. As a result, there are more than half a million manufacturing jobs open right now. The demand for trained workers continues to grow in Pennsylvania and the pipeline of skilled workers needs to be strengthened and enlarged to address advancing technology and skills in this changing industry.”

The addition of the CNC VMC and CNC turning center does just that. The equipment upgrades at Thaddeus Stevens are the means that Thaddeus Stevens will use to deliver “workforce upgrades” to its local market area in Pennsylvania.

PMPA is proud of our support of the grant request to make this award become a reality. The skilled workforce issue is the top challenge facing our industry. PMPA is working on many fronts to help solve this challenge.

What are you doing to help meet the skilled workforce challenge that your shop faces?


Originally posted on blog. 

Posted by: Miles Free 28. October 2014

OSHA Top 10 Violations from 2013


I would add “grinders” to my personal walk-around inspection list. 


OSHA recently posted its top 10 most frequently cited violations for the fiscal year 2013. While two of the top three are construction industries, the balance are general industry and general requirements applicable to our shops.

Fall protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501

Hazard communication standard, general industry (29 CFR 1910.1200

Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.451

Respiratory protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134)

Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry (29 CFR 1910.305

Powered industrial trucks, general industry (29 CFR 1910.178)

Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053

Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry (29 CFR 1910.147

Electrical systems design, general requirements, general industry (29 CFR 1910.303

Machinery and Machine Guarding, general requirements (29 CFR 1910.212

Savvy managers will make sure that their safety training plans cover the general industry and general requirements topics listed here.


Originally posted on blog. 

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