Business & Industry

Mind-Bending Facts about Plastics

Because they are so common, plastics are easy to take for granted. Here are some eye-opening stats that could re-mold your view: Ubiquitous and versatile, plastics appear in both the most cutting edge technologies and in the most mundane items. These polymers—chainlike molecules—are so widely used that their absence would be immediately and profoundly felt. For example, without plastics...

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Business & Industry

Hard Work: Remaking the American Labor Movement

As industrial enterprises flourished in the United States, so did labor unions. Trace their history in Hard Work: Remaking the American Labor Movement by Rick Fantasia and Kim Voss. From the Publisher This concise overview of the labor movement in the United States focuses on why American workers have failed to develop the powerful unions that exist in other industrialized countries. Packed with...

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Business & Industry

Computer Generated Gruntwork

The sun hasn't set on the daily grind. Even though more manufacturers are delegating their dirty work to enterprise resource software, they might be sweeping fundamental business protocol under the rug: According to AMR Research, manufacturers across the globe spent $9.1 billion on ERP (enterprise resource planning) software in 2002. First just available as software, more ERP applications are...

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Business & Industry

A Decade of E-Commerce

For a ten-year-old idea, online retail has grown up fast. Today it makes up 6.6 percent of the total economy. Buckle down and review its conception, effect on world commerce, and challenges along the way: Online purchasing is ubiquitous. We live in the era of Amazon, Expedia, and eBay. It is estimated that $144 billion will be spent on online purchases this year by American shoppers, according to...

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Business & Industry

Bustle in the Bighouse

Some companies, including manufacturers, reason that the solution to low-cost labor can be found inside the U.S. - in our nation's prisons. Can employed inmates arrest the trend towards outsourcing? There's a relatively unknown and controversial pool of employable people in this country, a pool at which a few companies are fishing for cheap labor. While they are serving time, some prisoners have...

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Business & Industry

Remote Management Rallies Web-Watchers

Commuting is highly overrated, especially when real-time information about your plant's production is just a click away. Take a break with an overview of online factory management: Picture this: While drinking our morning coffee someone on your plant staff calls to alert you that there's a big problem with the assembly line. In the time that it would take you to drive over and investigate in...

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Business & Industry

360vu Turns Small Businesses Around

Part of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), 360vu helps small businesses gain a competitive edge. In our exclusive interview, director Mike Stone explains the nuts and bolts of the organization. Give it a spin: Being a small manufacturing business in an increasingly global market can be intimidating, as it can be easy to fall behind. 360vu was developed to champion small businesses, by...

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Business & Industry

The State of Industry Labor

Straight from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some engaging facts to whet your workday whistle. Plus, wage the industry reactions to the outsourcing movement: State of Labor For a while, industry employment seemed to be riding on a roller coaster. Between an 18 percent employment drop over since the start of the century and the upward trend of outsourcing, manufacturers at every level...

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Business & Industry

Got Skills?

There's a dire shortage of machinists who work with intricate parts, and right now employers are scrambling to hire them. In a troubled job market, what makes these craftsmen such a hot commodity? The secret is in the details: In the past, when particular industries experienced a shortage of workers with specialized skills, companies would reel in a few experts, pay them well, and thereby draw...

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Business & Industry

A City's Mission Critical

San Antonio, known for its emblematic mission of old, is combating outsourcing by training future manufacturers. Sally forth and see why their model has captured the attention of industrial centers nationwide: Numerous studies have been conducted to try to explain the decrease in manufacturing jobs in America. They point to CEOs wanting to cut costs and the economy in a crunch, but most of all, a...

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