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Businesses that make products with PFAS may face unexpected issues.

By Jeffrey M. Karp

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of more than 3,000 man-made chemicals that are receiving heightened public awareness due to concerns about their potential impact on human health and the environment. Many of these chemicals were used over the past 70 years in the manufacturing processes for various consumer, commercial, industrial and military-grade products because of their unique structure and physicochemical properties, such as heat resistance, oil and water repellence and friction reduction. Despite a production phase-out for some of these compounds beginning in the 2000s, the environmental persistence and mobility of PFAS contribute to continued detections in drinking water, groundwater, soil, human blood serum, plants, fish and animals. A 2018 study conducted by the Environmental Working Group estimates that as many as 110 million Americans may be consuming tap water containing PFAS.

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By Dr. Denis Maier

Manufacturing supply chains, especially in the automotive industry, are characterized by a significant volume that is outsourced to suppliers. The added value inhouse can be as low as 20%. Sophisticated supplier selection and management systems combined with supplier development activities are essential tools to manage the inherent supply chain challenges. However, the enormous efforts for every new product launch are an indicator of the lack of sustainability. Manufacturing 4.0 will impose additional challenges on top of that and require a focus shift on supplier development.   


Maximize efficiency when engaging in supply chain planning.

By Rahul Mital

As the global marketplace expands, the need for more efficient supply chain planning and management tools follows suit. Manufacturers have to be able to match demand to supply—no matter where that supply may be located or how widespread the organization may be. To accomplish that goal requires a commitment to the planning for, integration of and continual evaluation of the latest technology available. This is where the relatively new and untested concept of global cross-pegging comes in to play. It is the next step beyond some of the most current practices when it comes to planning, scheduling, material ordering and inventory control.



The Pool of RCRA Universal Waste May Get Bigger

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 16, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to add hazardous waste aerosol cans to the category of “universal wastes” regulated under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations, codified at Title 40 of the C.F.R., Part 273. 83 Fed. Reg. 11654. According to EPA, this action would benefit the many manufacturing facilities and others that generate and manage large quantities of hazardous waste aerosol cans.


At one Pennsylvania manufacturer, women play important roles and find success with tangible results.

By Susan Towers

A recent study by Deloitte found that women constitute one of U.S. manufacturing’s largest pools of untapped talent. Women made up about 47 percent of the U.S. labor force in 2016, but accounted for a small portion of manufacturing jobs. Underrepresentation of females in manufacturing may be due in part to the perception that jobs in the industry are “too difficult” or “too dirty” for women. At Miller Welding and Machine Co. (MWM), a strategic metal fabrication partner for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), in Brookville, Pa., women are a vital part of the workforce. Female employees put their skills to use, whether on the shop floor or in the C-suite. While they work in various roles, these women all agree on one thing: anyone can have a successful career in manufacturing, regardless of gender.


Mobile Tech Is Key to Solving Manufacturing Sector’s Employee Engagement Crisis

By Bulent Osman

The words “manufacturing” and “innovation” are almost synonymous. A report from McKinsey Global Institute describes this important sector as “a vital source of innovation and competitiveness, making outsized contributions to research and development,” noting that the industry contributes disproportionately to innovation when compared to all other sectors.

Yet despite this emphasis on pursuing leading-edge R&D and advanced technologies when making products, manufacturers are not ahead of the curve when it comes to optimization of employee engagement solutions. This is evidenced by the fact that in an industry that would logically be linked with the excitement of continuous development, manufacturing workers instead rank lowest of all U.S. industries when it comes to employee engagement, with just one-quarter of workers feeling engaged according to 2017 figures from Gallup. This disheartening stat puts the manufacturing industry on the lowest rung possible as the least-engaged occupation in the most recent State of the American Workplace report.



Mexican University Innovation Leads to International Partnerships

By Juan Terrazas 

When people hear “manufacturing in Mexico” many immediately and unfortunately think cheap labor.  But in Baja California, manufacturing sectors can boast of qualified labor, which has evolved significantly in the past decade. Going from the early 1900s where industry in the area consisted of recreation and commerce, to the 1930s where the region experienced industrialization attempts before moving to the then traditional maquiladora or factories in the 1960s, and then to Asian consumer electronics in the 1990s. But since the 2010s, labor has advanced in sector specialization and tech automation in Cali-Baja, a binational megaregion – which combines Southern California and Baja California.

In the midst of the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and President Trump’s recent tariff proposals, a university in Mexico, CETYS, is working on continued collaboration with manufacturing industries and building global relationships from both an education and an industrial perspective.


Electrification and The Next Generation of American Manufacturing

By Baskar Vairamohan

Since the Great Recession, American manufacturing has seen slow, but sustained growth. A hockey stick graph shows the steep declines after 2008 with consistent — yet restrained — growth in manufacturing in the subsequent years. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the sector is adding jobs at a faster rate than almost any other part of the economy in recent months.

What is driving these changes, especially in such a turbulent economic environment, is unclear. With pending changes to international trade norms, widely discussed but yet to be proposed government-funded infrastructure investment programs, and the recent overhaul of U.S. tax codes, there is substantial uncertainty in segments of the economy impacting manufacturing. While some of these changes, such as those to the tax code, will lead to investment in this space, others provide more questions than answers.

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