Who was that masked man anyway?

Marlin on cover of NAM guide to Congress

Marlin on cover of NAM guide to new Congress

Glad to see a Marlin Steel employee made the cover of the National Association of Manufacturers’ new directory for the 113th U.S. Congress. It’s tough to show your good side while wearing a welding hood to make a steel wire basket, but safety comes first … a reminder that Marlin just passed 1,500 consecutive days without a lost-time accident. Proud milestone here.Marlin Steel safety

Laundry quandary: How Marlin’s wire baskets helped combat the Tide black market

Detergent basket with klid/Marlin Steel

Detergent basket with lid/Marlin Steel

Strange story on ABC News this morning about the black market in Tide laundry detergent, a persistent quandary for law enforcement from Colorado to Maryland. Tide is a universal product with a huge resale market and it’s hard to track. Oddly enough, Marlin Steel has a small role in helping thwart the problem: Steel wire detergent baskets made here with hinged covers are used in institutional laundries. They help keep the product under lock in settings where it might be vulnerable to theft. … Happy to do our part.

We’re beginning to think the phrase should be changed to “Six Degrees of Marlin Steel.”

Manufacturing jobs: Cool in the US, but getting cold in China?

The juxtaposition of two articles this week was stark: A report from the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington was titled “Is Manufacturing ‘Cool’ Again?” while a New York Times headline today said, “Chinese Graduates Say No Thanks to Factory Jobs.” Continue reading

Marlin Steel in New York Times today on robots creating jobs

Marlin Steel’s Drew Greenblatt was quoted today in the New York Times in an article about automation and job growth that countered perceptions in a “60 Minutes” segment earlier this month.

In December, we won a job from a Chicago company that for over a decade has bought from China,” [Greenblatt] said. “It’s a sheet-metal bracket; 160,000 sheet-metal brackets, year in, year out. They were made in China, now they’re made in Baltimore, using steel from a plant in Indiana and the robot was made in Connecticut.”

In the article, a representative from the Frankfurt-based International Federation of Robotics appeared puzzled that a stale argument over whether robots hurt jobs had resurfaced in the United States. In Europe and Japan, manufacturers, workers and policy makers aren’t so distracted by an antique debate, he indicated. The federation announced that it plans to issue a report next month describing how the robotics industry directly and indirectly will create 1.9 million to 3.5 million jobs globally by 2020.

Drew also framed the argument in a way that any red-blooded, purple-wearing football fan in Marlin’s hometown of Baltimore could appreciate:

My robots are going to work during the Super Bowl, he said. “Do you know how popular I would be to ask my employees to work during the Super Bowl?

For steel wire baskets, it’s a small world after all

mouseearsIt wasn’t a busman’s holiday at the Magic Kingdom, but Jason E., an application engineer here at Marlin Steel with a keen eye, couldn’t help but notice a couple of Marlin Steel Wire Products while visiting sunny Walt Disney World with his family this weekend.

EPCOT wire basket

EPCOT wire basket

He spied the napkin baskets (left) while visiting the Norway pavilion in Epcot.

Mobile vehicle wire baskets

Mobile vehicle wire baskets

And he observed the wire baskets that we built a few years ago for mobile vehicles at the resort (right).

Wire basket print

Mobile vehicle wire basket print

We were glad to see Marlin’s baskets being put to good service at the world-famous theme park.

In fact, we couldn’t have been more delighted even if Jason had brought us home a pair of mouse ears.

America makes, the world breathes

Alexandria Liu and friend horseback riding in Beijing

Alexandria Liu and friend horseback riding in Beijing

We received a welcome e-mail recently from Alexandria Liu, a bright master’s student at Peking University. We met Alexandria during a trade-mission trip to Asia that we took with Governor O’Malley and a business contingent from Maryland in 2011. Alexandria recently sent a photo of her with a friend on horseback in Beijing. They seemed to be riding in a cloud, so thick was the smog. In the photo, the trees were only 200 feet behind her, as she described it, but you could barely make them out. After being out in the elements for two hours, Alexandria and her friend were sick with a sinus infection for two days, she wrote.

Recent news reports about the horrific air quality there appeared in the Los Angeles Times and in a Washington Post blog. The blog even mentioned a Twitter account @BeijingAir tied to a monitor a top the U.S. Embassy in Beijing that continually spits out air quality readings.

At Forbidden City, Beijing (Drew in striped shirt and shorts, middle)

At Forbidden City, Beijing (Drew in striped shirt and shorts, middle)

We noticed the severe conditions on our trip to China. The smog in Shanghai was stunning. The Yangtze River there is about as wide as the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, but you couldn’t see across it. Amid President Obama’s emphasis this week on reaffirming a commitment to combat climate change, it might sound counter-intuitive but bringing back more manufacturing to the United States would help. Continue reading

How robots create jobs here: Let us count the ways

incFrom Drew Greenblatt’s latest column in Inc. magazine on the connection between automation and job creation:

… A dozen robots on our shop floor form steel wire baskets at the rate of 20,000 bends an hour, or about five per second. The precision is light years beyond what we were capable of before, with tolerances measured to the thousandths of an inch. That craftsmanship allowed us to expand beyond bagel baskets into industrial containers for sensitive material for clients in automotive, aerospace, military, and health care. And with robots tacking the most brutish work, our employees’ well being has dramatically improved as well: Our last lost-time accident occurred during the Bush administration, more than 1,500 days ago. (And workers now get health insurance.)

That doesn’t mean we don’t need people. The argument by some, including on a recent “60 Minutes” segment, that robots rob jobs is overly simplistic. It echoes the old adage that generals are always prepared to fight the last war–to use old tactics to win new battles. Without robots our company would be out of business. Here are six ways robots have created jobs at Marlin Steel Wire Products … Read more