Pick Up the Pieces

Here’s an assortment of random thoughts for the month, from current events to upcoming Production Machining content.


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Perfectly ordered disorder designed with a helter-skelter magnificence.
— Emily Carr

I’m back with another month of exciting column writing—a lot of little things to discuss this time around. Writing can be fun. It can also be quite a challenge. Sometimes the words come to me, and sometimes they don’t. I’d guess designers face the same issues. Sometimes the ideas are numerous, but there’s only so much to say about them or do with them. Let’s say that was the case this month. Maybe June’s Midwest monsoons have washed the loquaciousness away.

Changing Times

Could your company use a facelift? Ours has been experiencing one of sorts during the last several months. The headquarters building of Gardner Business Media is undergoing a substantial renovation. Phase I will be complete by the time this column goes to print, which means I’ll have relocated to a second temporary home, awaiting completion of Phase II and Phase III, after which time I’ll settle in, I hope, for the long haul.

Our changes are largely cosmetic and are having little to no impact on our everyday processes (although it’ll be an even more comfortable place to work once complete). It doesn’t hurt, though, to regularly take a big picture look at your company to see if there are ways to improve, whether it’s the company’s image through marketing and online presence or if it’s streamlining processes, upgrading equipment or even hiring new personnel. A fresh start in any of these areas can pay big dividends.

Impact of Tariffs

President Trump’s tariffs have been big news for the last year and a half. The stock market has fluctuated substantially as negotiations with trading partners sway one way or the other. The hope is that long-term effects of these negotiations have a strong enough positive impact on the U.S. trade deficit to offset short-term negative consequences affecting pricing.

We’re interested in learning more about how these tariffs are affecting our readers. How have they had a direct impact on your business? What best practices are you putting in place to lessen their effects moving forward? Do you view the tariffs as worthwhile? Please contact me at cfelix@productionmachining.com with your input.

This Month

In this issue, sort of like my column, we have a range of topics that are less related to each other than usual. Our cover story features the return of the Emerging Leaders awards. Now in its second year, this program has gained momentum, drawing almost twice as many nominees as 2018. I’d like to give a shout-out to our managing editor, Lori Beckman, who has done a great job spearheading this project. 

Two other articles this month lead to a deep look into the importance of expanded education programs to develop this country’s workforce of tomorrow. Our Last Word column, contributed by Paul Huber, makes the point that despite the numerous programs available to U.S. students, we still need to do more to keep pace with other countries. Associate Editor Julia Hider’s feature, which began as an application story about CNC machine controls, ended up also including an interesting review of the shop’s unique approach to apprenticeship training.

This issue also offers our third-quarter coverage of parts cleaning. We examine how to maximize cleaning and rust preventive programs by properly managing the chemistry used in the aqueous parts washer. 

Still Ahead

We have lots of great coverage yet to come to close out 2019. Next month we’ll look at a rotary transfer application as well as a shop taking full advantage of its shop management software. I’ll also be heading to EMO in Hanover, Germany, so expect some insights down the road about the latest technical developments and perhaps a preview of sorts of what new things you might see at IMTS next year. Along with other emphasis topics, we’ll close out the year with material handling, machining centers, and a 2020 industry outlook.

It’s a busy year, but that’s a good thing! As I take on more projects my thoughts tend to get a little fragmented, but sharing them in this forum allows me to reign in my thoughts while keeping our readers on top of some of the latest developments.


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