The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

Day: March 25, 2013

MDM Interview: As Manufacturing Evolves, Learn & Adapt or Be Left Behind

Manufacturing has seen significant significant shifts in techology and skill needs in recent years. Pamela Kan, president of Bishop-Wisecarver Group, a manufacturer of linear and rotary motion products, spoke with Associate Editor Jenel Stelton-Holtmeier about what those shifts mean for the industry and what manufacturers and distributors need to do to respond.

MDM: There have been some big advances in manufacturing technology in recent years. How is this changing the industry?

Pamela Kan: We’re in a time and place where I think we’re going to see more rapid expansion of technology. I don’t even know if we can even think about the total impact just yet. From the things that are happening with materials and coatings and nano and additive manufacturing ... And when you add pure technology layers like augmented reality, it’s huge. Everything that’s coming down the pipe with sensors – from sensors in your production floor to sensors in your product – the amount of data feedback loops that we’ll start to have around our production and our customer usage of products is amazing.

That kind of stuff gets me going; it’s all really exciting. I think we’re right on the edge of a whole new way of making things. And this is where America really excels, …

The Hiring Disconnect in Distribution

About 70 percent of readers in a recent MDM survey said they had plans to hire in 2013 due to growth in their businesses, new initiatives and the need to replace retirees. But many cited challenges in finding qualified candidates to fill positions. According to industry HR experts, part of the challenge is in recognizing that a high unemployment rate does not always mean that a high number of qualified candidates are looking for work. This article looks at the recent MDM survey and provides insight on the current talent market.

The recession cost many distributors a couple of years of sales growth, and many have just recently returned to pre-recession levels.

During the recession, many distributors were forced to cut staff. Even those who were able to avoid layoffs worked to do more with less so they wouldn’t have to hire as they climbed out of the recession.

Industrial distributor Western Tool & Supply, Livermore, CA, was one of many distributors that invested in …

Commentary: Challenge Assumptions to Uncover New Opportunities

Organizational memory can be a heavy burden for established businesses, according to a recent Harvard Business Review blog post, “When Organizational Memory Stands in the Way.” It can result in outdated mindsets and assumptions, obsolete policies and practices, and underperforming products and services.

The authors cite Blackberry as an example; the company continued to focus on the physical keyboard when the market had moved to a touchscreen. As a result, its previously …

Challenges & Opportunities in Solar

Energy generated from solar has increased dramatically in the last decade, even as the industry has seen some significant wins – increased state requirements – and losses – several high-profile bankruptcies. This article looks at the current state of the solar industry and the roles distributors are playing.

This article is the first in a series examining the alternative energy market in the U.S.

Thirty states have standards in place that require a certain percentage of energy generation to come from renewable sources by a given date, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The specific standards vary widely, but they have had a significant impact on the adoption of alternative energy sources across the U.S.

As such, people looking for consistent information on the U.S. market …