Tag Archives: Manufacturing

Why States Are Struggling to Tax Services

The Pew Charitable Trusts – Twenty-three state legislatures considered proposals this year to impose taxes on at least some services. But so far, none has made it into law intact — and most died outright. And in several states, new taxes on services that took effect this year are so complicated that tax offices are writing clarifying memos, like the one in North Carolina to distinguish between roof repair (taxable) and roof replacement (not taxable).

Trying to define exactly what services should be subject to a new tax can be tricky, with proposals to tax specific businesses usually drawing opposition from those who would be affected. And proposals to tax all services prompt demands for exceptions from businesses that maintain they are “essential” (like funeral services) and should not be subject to tax.

“The services that get pulled into these plans … are not necessarily the ones that bring in the most revenue, but the ones that are more politically viable,” said Meg Wiehe, deputy director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a study group that looks at the distributional effects of tax policy. more> https://goo.gl/XNJKS5

Auto slowdown flashes caution lights for manufacturing employment — and Trump

By Mark Muro – After a good run, warning lights are flashing in the auto industry—and that’s not good for the broader manufacturing sector, for heartland metropolitan areas, or for President Trump.

Here’s the problem: after seven years of strong growth following the 2008 economic crisis and federal bailouts of both General Motors (GM) and Chrysler, auto sector output and employment growth have slowed markedly from record levels. Years of catch-up purchases by car buyers have finally plateaued. Likewise, automakers must economize to invest billions in developing the electric and self-driving cars of tomorrow.

And so the layoffs have begun. more> https://goo.gl/sazWoc

How the Obama phenomenon and Trump earthquake happened

By Reid Wilson – The Hill spent months digging deep into decades of data that illustrate the nation’s changing demographics, economics, culture and politics.

Those glimpses of a changing America are evidence of a series of countervailing demographic, political and economic forces that have long exerted themselves on the nation — and now define the quadrennial struggle between two sides of the political aisle that are deeply polarized along race, class, economic and educational lines.

At the center of the divide are two sets of divergent trends.

The first set contrasts the changing face of America, which is being hastened by the rising influence of the most diverse generation in American history, with a radical political shift among the nation’s still-dominant cohort of older whites, who now act as a more homogenous voting bloc than ever before.

The second set reflects the changing nature of how Americans live, work and build economic power. A generations-long trend toward wage stagnation, automation and globalization is in the final stages of exterminating the blue-collar manufacturing jobs that once sustained America’s middle class in the heartland. more> https://goo.gl/YgDUA0

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Skills and Global Value Chains

OECD – Since 1990s, the world has entered a new phase of globalization. Information and communication technology, trade liberalization and lower transport costs have enabled firms and countries to fragment the production process into global value chains (GVCs): many products are now designed in one country and assembled in another country from parts often manufactured in several countries. To seize the benefits of GVCs, countries have to implement well-designed policies that foster the skills their populations need to thrive in this new era.

GVCs give workers the opportunity to apply their skills all around the world without moving countries: an idea can be turned into a product more easily and those who are involved in production can benefit from this idea.

GVCs give firms the possibility of entering production processes they might be unable to develop alone. At the same time, the demand for some skills drops as activities are offshored, exposing workers to wage reductions or job losses in the short term. In the long term, however, offshoring enables firms to reorganize and achieve productivity gains that can lead to job creation.

The rise of GVCs has prompted a backlash in public opinion in some countries. This negative reaction has sometimes focused on the leading role of multinationals and foreign direct investment. Multinationals can boost production and job creation in the host country by engaging local companies as suppliers, but they can also quickly relocate parts of the production process from country to country. This increases uncertainty about the demand for jobs and skills in each country, while making uncoordinated policy response in each country less effective. Multinationals are often seen as responsible for offshoring jobs while contributing to the increase in top incomes.

In all countries, more educated workers enjoy high job quality than low-educated ones. But the gap in job strain between low-educated and high-educated workers is larger in countries that participate more in GVCs (Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia). Investing in skills along with increasing participating in GVCs is particularly important in developing economies that tend to be at the lower end of value chains, where working conditions are more often poor.

Strong cognitive skills are not enough on their own to achieve good performance in GVcs and to specialize in technologically advanced industries. Industries involve the performance of several types of tasks, but all require social and emotional skills as well as cognitive skills. To succeed in an internationally competitive environment, countries and industries needs in addition to those related to their domain specializations. more> https://goo.gl/a8hPgv

Updates from GE

Leaner Than Lean: How Digitalization Transforms Manufacturing
By Randy Stearns – If you want to see the future of manufacturing, follow the Tama River about 45 kilometers upstream from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to the GE Healthcare facility in Hino, Japan. Inside this outwardly conventional, low-rise suburban business complex is emerging the blueprint for the future of manufacturing, tweak by painstaking tweak.

The Hino factory makes both parts for large medical scanners and small, precision equipment. Compared with similar facilities, its production lines are exceptionally efficient — fast, with less waste, errors and unplanned downtime — thanks in part to the successful integration of advanced digital information technology with operational systems. GE calls this convergence of hardware and software on the shop floor the brilliant factory.

The Hino plant is where the Industrial Internet meets Kaizen, the Japanese concept of continuous improvement pioneered by Toyota after World War II that undergirds Lean methods for eliminating waste in manufacturing. more> https://goo.gl/euCTYE

Updates from GE

Competing for the World
By Jeffrey R. Immelt – Today, I want to give you some views on globalization … what works, and what doesn’t work, and what needs to change. Please keep foremost in your mind that the U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population with 25 percent of the GDP. I hope to persuade you that – rather than pulling back – the U.S. can win the global game. But, we have to compete.

I have spent my career doing just that. When I joined GE – in 1982 – 80 percent of our revenue was in the U.S. In 2017, nearly 70 percent of our revenue will be global. We have customers in 180 countries and our exports exceed $20 billion. Our U.S. workers earn high wages because they make leadership products that we sell around the world. Globalization has made us become more efficient, more competitive.

Today, people question globalization. The U.S. is challenging trade deals and has effectively shut down its export bank. The U.S. is not alone. Protectionist barriers are rising in Europe and Asia as well. Economic nationalism is replacing free trade as the dominant idea of the era. Meanwhile, the Chinese are replacing the U.S. as the trade leader on the global stage, growing their influence through expanding relationships and economic development.

How did an ideal so connected to American influence and success become so demonized? In retrospect, there were key changes along the way. I’ll name a few. more> https://goo.gl/WLgK88

America Needs the World

The U.S. is heading toward a trade war it cannot win.
By Tavis Jules – President Donald Trump ended his address to a joint session of Congress by saying “My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America.”

Trump’s job as de facto representative of the world is a byproduct of post-World War II era restructuring that ushered in over seventy years of American dominance and greatness while allowing America to significantly influence and shape educational development priorities, agendas and directives of global institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization.

Since the 1980s, the mantra of open markets has equated to open educational systems in the name of democratic governance and transition. In line with Washington Consensus principles of deregulated labor markets, privatization of nationalized industries, and openness to trade under the banner of ‘saving’ national education and preparing a new generation of global workers to exploit their untapped capital, governments have been slowly opening their educational markets to all forms of trade and services.

These neoliberal policies crystallized in 1995 when the U.S.-led WTO in its General Agreement on Trade in Services identified education as one of 12 tradable services, under the movement of natural persons. Thus, education became subjected to global trade and commercial rules.

Trump’s congressional message of not knowing the full scope of what his job is or should be, highlights the narrowness which is fed through his policy advisers, who too often apply established models to current circumstances, rather than considering the radical reinterpretations of the issues.

In today’s overly interconnected world, the U.S. is heading towards a trade war it cannot win; America needs the world, but the world does not need America when the emerging and frontier markets show such promise. more> https://goo.gl/6Tyf03

Updates from GE

I Machine, You Human: How AI Is Helping GE Build A Powerhouse Of Knowledge
By Tomas Kellner – Every fall, GE Global Research holds a scientific gathering called the Whitney Symposium highlighting the latest scientific trends. Last year the two-day event explored industrial applications of artificial intelligence. We sat down with Mark Grabb and Achalesh Pandey, two GE scientists looking for ways to apply AI to jet engines, medical scanners and other machines.

“We are starting to see significant performance increases from the combination of deep learning and reinforcement learning, where you have a human in the loop correcting the system,” Grabb said. “Once you build a smooth user experience and get the system going, people don’t even know they are correcting the AI along the way.”

At GE, we are writing software like Predix, which is the cloud-based operating system for machines that allows us to connect them to the Industrial Internet. But we also have a tremendous number of domain experts. There’s a lot of physics and domain knowledge that’s required to build good analytics and machine learning models. We have actually built AI systems that help data scientists more quickly and more effectively capture the domain knowledge across all the people inside GE building these models. So AI comes in even in the developing of analytics. more> https://goo.gl/OMZ9TS

Updates from GE

Game On: Augmented Reality Is Helping Factory Workers Become More Productive
By Tomas Kellner – As chief engineer for advanced manufacturing at GE Healthcare, Jimmie Beacham, 43, is in charge of a futuristic laboratory in Waukesha, Wisconsin, experimenting with new ways to make things. He and his team are using the Xbox and a connected Kinect motion tracker to bring augmented reality (AR) into the factory and help workers become more efficient. “We are projecting the work instructions onto the parts and use sensors to monitor the assembly and give feedback to the operator,” Beacham says.

Specifically, the Kinect and a camera are following the worker’s movements and feeding them to a computer that stores the assembly instructions. The computer controls an overhead projector that displays the manufacturing steps on the workbench. Based on the visual and sensory feedback, the system signals the operator immediately if an error occurs or guides them to the next step.

The system currently at the Waukesha lab came from Light Guide System, a Detroit-area maker of augmented reality tools for industry. The first applications are focusing on guiding workers through “the critical steps where we can’t afford to make a mistake,” Beacham says. But his team has already started expanding its scope and connecting it to face recognition technology, collaborative robots, or cobots, and Predix, GE’s software platform for the Industrial Internet. more> https://goo.gl/KaGM9r

Updates from GE

School’s In: GE’s New “Brilliant Learning” Program Will Train Workers For Jobs Of The Future
By Tomas Kellner – Jesse Schrimpf didn’t study additive manufacturing in school. But when a 3D printer showed up at his plant in Waukesha, Wisconsin, the GE Healthcare engineer decided to give the machine a whirl.

Normally, Schrimpf would design a new master mold, order a wooden mold prototype costing as much as $20,000 from a supplier and wait as long as four weeks for the delivery. He would test it, make tweaks and repeat the process. The costs quickly added up.

But with the 3D printer at his disposal, he could print a mold that performed better than the wooden kind in just two days on-site and for $1,000. The printer, which creates 3D objects directly from a computer file, enabled him to incorporate changes into the next design version with his keyboard and a mouse.

Schrimpf is in many ways the poster child for GE’s new “brilliant learning” program the company is launching for employees around the world this week. It includes “massive open online courses” in several languages, workshops, “immersion boot camps on lean manufacturing” and other training designed to help employees get ready for the arrival in the factory of 3D printing, big data, robotics, digital and lean manufacturing and other advanced technologies.

GE is launching “brilliant learning” to change things. The model feeds into the company’s idea of the Brilliant Factory, a plant that uses big data, software sensors, new manufacturing methods and robotics to increase productivity. GE businesses are busy rolling out the concept at 17 sites in Japan, India, Italy, Mexico and also the U.S, and more are in the pipeline. more> https://goo.gl/1jmbjf