Three Benefits of Manufacturing in the USA

Marlin Steel Wire ManufacturingRecently, we talked about several reasons to be optimistic about the future of manufacturing in America. One of the major takeaways from that post was that the number of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. is on the rise once again, and that many companies are beginning to consider moving their production back to American locations.

However, you might be wondering “why it is that companies are considering making the switch to manufacturing in the U.S. once again?” Well, there are actually a number of reasons, including:

#1: Costs

As we mentioned in a previous post, the energy costs associated with operating a U.S.-based manufacturing location are actually going down. However, the cost savings of moving manufacturing to the U.S. go well beyond that for many companies.

For a lot of companies, even though their production has been moved out of the U.S., their R&D facilities have remained here. By basing their manufacturing facilities nearer to their R&D facilities, companies can save time and money when shipping parts and prototype units between the two.

Not only that, but communication between manufacturing and R&D teams is much easier when they are both located in the same region. This eliminates the need for translating terms, speeding up the communication process (team to team as opposed to team to translator to team). Also, this reduces the chances of a miscommunication between a team used to using one kind of measurement to a team that typically uses another kind of measurement: degrees Fahrenheit versus degrees Celsius, for example.

#2: Simplification of Regulations Requirements

One of the major challenges of operating any business in multiple countries is that each country will have different regulations and requirements for the distribution, import, export or manufacture of any products.

By placing your manufacturing in the same country where goods are to be distributed, you can streamline the approval process for many products and make it easier to avoid intellectual property infringement risks.

Having to pay for customs fees and wait for processing on materials, then having to pay export fees and other taxes for the finished products in order to get it to the intended market can quickly become expensive and time-consuming.

Speaking of shipping times…

#3: Reduction in Transit Times

The delay in the ROI for the manufacture of a new product line as it languishes in the cargo storage of a slow, bulky sea vessel can break monthly income projections, and faster air cargo shipments can be prohibitively expensive, while still having to wait for customs processing.

Bringing manufacturing centers into the region where your company’s products will be distributed saves time. This allows you to see a return on your investment sooner rather than later. In addition, this removes a few middlemen from the sales process, reducing markup and allowing prices to be more competitive.

What’s more, this reduction in transit times also means an increased level of flexibility and responsiveness in meeting consumer demands. The faster a company can leverage consumer needs and wants, the better.

For example, if the first run of a product line sells out in record time, a company that bases its manufacturing in the same country it is distributing those products in can strike while the proverbial iron’s hot, putting more of the in-demand product into customer’s hands while it is still in demand. A company that bases its manufacturing overseas, on the other hand, will have to wait for weeks on shipping alone, during which time the enthusiasm for the product may die down or competitors could release off-brand copies of the product.

A company located overseas could prevent an unexpected shortage of a suddenly popular product by massively over-producing everything, but that would be a tremendous waste of time, money and materials.

A Positive Outlook

Of course, there are many more reasons why any specific company might benefit from basing their manufacturing in the U.S., far too many to cover all of them here. Here at Marlin Steel, we’re excited to have the chance to not only witness a resurgence of American manufacturing, but to be a part of it.

With more companies relocating their manufacturing to the U.S., and thus more manufacturing jobs being created, we’re optimistic for the future of the manufacturing industry in the U.S.

4 Reasons to be Optimistic about the Future of Manufacturing

Marlin Steel ManufacturingHere at the Marlin Steel facility in Baltimore, we’re always excited to see news about the manufacturing industry (after all, manufacturing is what we do). We’ve recently seen a lot of positive news that could indicate that the manufacturing industry in the USA is poised for a comeback.

“What are these pieces of positive news and why should I get excited for manufacturing,” you ask? Well, there are a great many reasons to be both optimistic and excited for the future of manufacturing, including:

Reason #1: Job Growth

For much of the last few decades, manufacturing was a declining business in America. After enjoying a boom in growth during the years following WWII, when America’s manufacturing infrastructure was one of the only undamaged sources of manufactured goods in the world, there was a major decline. During this time, there were innumerable factory lay-offs and closures.

Thankfully, this decline has leveled out during recent years. In fact, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article by James R. Hagerty, jobs in the manufacturing sector have risen “by about 600,000 over the past four years to more than 12 million.” In that same article, there was a bit of information from a survey that indicated that 21% of U.S.-based manufacturers “were moving production back to the U.S. or planning to do so.”

An increase in jobs in the manufacturing sector indicates that more business is coming to American manufacturers. More jobs also means more people paying taxes and contributing to the financial stability of the country.

Reason #2: Energy Costs are Going Down

As Marlin Steel’s owner discussed in a previous interview with WBAL radio’s John Patty, which can be found here, the discovery of new techniques to extract more natural gas from deposits in various areas of the country has made it cheaper and more economical to power the manufacturing industry.

In states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, the natural gas industry has helped to boost tax revenues, providing more money for schools and other necessary civil services.

By making energy costs more affordable for manufacturers, it is more likely that manufacturing jobs will be brought to America than to other countries, further increasing job growth.

Reason #3: Overseas Labor Costs are on the Rise

One of the big issues behind the loss of manufacturing jobs in America was the costs attached to operating in the U.S. as opposed to basing manufacturing operations overseas. Not just the energy costs, which we discussed above, but the labor costs as well.

Overseas laborers often performed unskilled tasks for absolutely miniscule pay. For many manufacturing companies, the sheer cost savings that came with switching to using labor from underdeveloped countries was too tempting to pass up. In order to guarantee competitive prices, it was necessary to cut costs in every aspect of the production process, especially labor.

However, in recent years, the average labor costs for unskilled labor in other countries has been on the rise, negating many of the cost advantages of using overseas labor. Not only that, but some manufacturing tasks require specialized skill sets and education, which necessitates the hiring of more expensive skilled laborers anyways.

Reason #4: Robotics

The labor cost advantage for U.S. manufacturing is further compounded by the increase in workplace automation in factories. Robots can do many tasks much faster and with greater consistency than human labor, but still require the support of a trained and experienced engineer in order to function at peak capacity.

For example, a robotic wire bending machine being monitored by a single engineer can make hundreds of bends in a quarter-inch thick length of wire per minute. With this speed, the robotic arm can make hundreds of complete wire forms per hour, where a single worker who is very skilled and experienced might be lucky to finish more than ten or twelve pieces of thick wire in that same time frame. Even with this engineer earning far more money than a traditional worker, he or she can get far more work done in the same amount of time.

Not only that, but the precision with which automated manufacturing equipment can produce items means that they’re more well-suited for use in products that require miniscule error tolerances. This opens up the potential client list of a manufacturer, such as what Marlin Steel was able to do after adopting our own automated manufacturing systems.

Think Positive

Right now, the future of manufacturing in the U.S. is looking bright. Naturally, we cannot know what’s in store for the future, but we think that there’s more than enough cause to be optimistic.

To learn more about manufacturing, and how workplace automation can help bring about a renaissance of American manufacturing, check out our other blog posts, or contact us. Marlin Steel’s engineers are happy to help answer your questions.

Marlin Steel Supports the Marian Greenblatt Education Fund

The Montgomery County Public Schools Announces Their Finalists for Teacher of the Year!

Since 1988, the Marian Greenblatt Education Fund has promoted educational excellence in Montgomery County by recognizing top teachers in the county. The fund is named for Drew Greenblatt’s mother Marian, a dedicated teacher and advocate of improving the quality of public education.

When Marian Greenblatt was elected to the Montgomery County, Maryland Board of Education, she set to work immediately to assure that the students of the county could have a higher quality of education, one that would prepare them better for life after high school. She sought to raise academic standards in her county, fighting against laissez-faire administrators who would maintain a status quo even if it meant that their students were trapped in overcrowded classrooms with too few textbooks and no real preparation for the working world. Her first successful effort was to require each of the 100,000 students in the system to read fifteen minutes per day, under their teachers’ supervision.

Marian changed the MCPS system during her term of service on the board, both as a member and as president of the board. By the end of her time as a board member, attendance in classes were up, the teacher to student ratio had improved, and the textbook budget for each student had doubled, allowing students to actually have textbooks to take home for homework. Frivolous courses were reduced dramatically, and stricter adherence to countywide curricula was maintained.

In 1984, Dr. Greenblatt retired from the MCPS Board of Education in 1984 and took up a position as the Director of the Presidential Academic Fitness Award Program for President Reagan, a position that she held until her passing in 1988.

Recognizing MCPS’ Best Educators and Students

In honor of Marian’s efforts to improve the quality of education for students in Montgomery County, the Marian Greenblatt Education Fund was founded to recognize excellent educators. The fund, which is recognized as a 501c(3) organization by the IRS, is managed by her family, led by her husband, Dr. Marshal Greenblatt.

Over the years, the fund has grown in scope, adding more efforts to encourage excellence in education, such as:

  • Veteran Teachers Award
  • County Teacher of the Year
  • Rising-Star Teacher Award
  • Aspiring Teacher Award for students at the University of Maryland School of Education
  • Excellence in Social Studies by Juniors in High School
  • Jones Family/Plasma Fellows/Greenblatt Scholarships for Excellence in Foreign Language
  • Montgomery County Students Information Technology Foundation, to teach computer repair as part of the curriculum

Yes, not only are teachers being recognized for providing a top-quality education for their students, but outstanding students are recognized by the award as well. All told, the fund has awarded over $125,000 to teachers and students since 1989!

While many educators would covet any of the various awards from the Marian Greenblatt Education Fund, the MCPS Teacher of the Year Award is especially prestigious. Winners of this award are entered into a competition to be named Maryland Teacher of the Year. A Marian Greenblatt winner and subsequent MCPS teacher of the year, Kim Oliver, went on to be named the National Teacher of the Year and was honored at the White House in 2006 by the President in a Rose Garden ceremony.

Our Teacher of the Year Finalists

This year, the Teacher of the Year finalists are:

  • Kathryn Hageman, a fifth-grade teacher at Diamond Elementary School in Gaithersburg.
  • Jane Lindsay, an eighth-grade English teacher at John Poole Middle School in Poolesville.
  • Aaron Shin, an eighth-grade U.S. history teacher at Parkland Middle School in Rockville.

Each of these Teacher of the Year finalists are winners of the Marian Greenblatt Veteran Teacher Award, chosen for her/his ability to inspire students and fellow educators alike to be the best that they can be.

No matter which of these three educators goes on to earn the final prize, they can take pride in the fact that they were nominated for this award. Simply being nominated for this honor demonstrates that they have gone above and beyond the minimum standards set for educators by the MCPS system, and that is cause enough to be proud.

Marlin Steel is honored to be a part of this tradition through our CEO’s involvement in the Fund from its conception through its annual work of selecting who we in the county think are the best of the best. We look forward to seeing these educators shape future generations through their hard work and dedication. Hats off to them!

If you would like to learn more about the Marian Greenblatt Education Fund, or make a tax-deductible contribution to our 501c3 organization, please visit the Fund’s website today. Few things are as important as improving the lives of our children and giving them the resources they need to be successful in the future, and it’s never too late to start helping. If you would like to know how you could start a similar organization, email us at info@greenblatteducationfund.org.

Natural gas is bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. [Commentary]

U.S. prices for the energy source are low, and it may also become one of our best exports. Drew Greenblatt is president and owner of Marlin Steel Wire Products in Baltimore. He recently wrote an article for The Baltimore Sun regarding the effect natural gas has on the manufacturing industry in the U.S. You can read the full article here.

Promoting the Benefits of Automation in the Manufacturing Industry

 

Marlin Steel

3 Marlin Steel employees in front of Marlin Steel’s Trumpf laser

A3, the Association for Advancing Automation, has launched a new website to help educate people, particularly employers, about the benefits that come with automation.

What is one of the key stories featured on the website? A video about our company, Marlin Steel.

In the video on the A3 site, our CEO/Owner, Drew Greenblatt, talks about how making the switch to automation saved Marlin Steel from bankruptcy. Not only that, but automation has actually helped Marlin Steel generate new jobs and retain our dedicated and experienced workers.

When Drew acquired Marlin Steel more than 15 years ago, our company was known as the “King of Bagel Baskets.” For a time, that was fine. Using traditional hand-crafted methods, each employee at the plant was able to produce 15-20 wire baskets per shift for bagel shops all over the country. Back in those early days, the customers were looking for a commodity product that worked good enough, not the most high-quality product.

However, Marlin’s status as the king of bagel baskets would come to an end not long after Greenblatt acquired the company. Chinese metal wire basket companies began to move into the market, often selling their products for less than what Marlin had to pay just for the  steel to make the baskets. With a cheaper product on the market, clients began to dry up and Greenblatt had to make a choice: adapt, or go bankrupt.

Thankfully, Drew decided to adapt by bringing in new automation equipment, much to the chagrin of Marlin’s overseas competitors.

The Benefits of Automation

Back in the day, the hand-crafting methods were, relatively speaking, slow, inefficient, and not very precise. Using the hand-bent assembly method for wire baskets, Marlin Steel was able to handle products that had an error tolerance of plus or minus one inch.

Not only that, but the hand assembly method was inherently dangerous, with as many as four safety incidents occurring every year. Many employees had severed fingers and eye injuries, which only increased the risk of future injuries. Fatigue caused by exhausting manual labor also contributed to the chances of an accident occurring.

Making the switch to automation has allowed Marlin Steel to reap numerous benefits, including:

  • Increased production capability –Machines don’t “get tired” after performing a task for hours on end. Not only that, but for tasks that require the precise application of brute force, a mechanized process can get the job done much faster than older manual methods. For example, our new automated machines can pull and bend hundreds of feet of wire each minute. This increases total production by so much that orders which once took four to five days to complete can now be fulfilled in a single day.
  • Improved employee safety – Another benefit of machines doing the manual labor is that it vastly reduces job injuries. Where we once had as many as four injuries each year, we now have gone more than 1,680 days (over four and a half years) without a safety incident. Our staff certainly appreciates the newfound safety that comes with the automated systems. And our workman’s compensation bills are way down.
  • Reduced employee fatigue – With the switch to automation comes a reduced level of exhaustive manual labor. Our employees are now able to focus on tasks that work their minds rather than their muscles. Their work is less physically demanding, repetitive, and mundane, which makes for improved job satisfaction and less fatigue. We don’t have to recruit employees who are just big and strong.
  • Enhanced precision – A machine can bend and shape steel to the exact specifications that it is given, every time it performs that task. Before introducing automated manufacturing techniques, we would make products that had a tolerance for error of one inch or less. Using automated manufacturing, we can now make products with a tolerance of +/- 1/4000”, which opens up our list of clients to include those who need extremely precise products, making Marlin Steel more than just the king of bagel baskets.
  • Higher profitability – Increasing the output of our production line and expanding our list of clients has improved Marlin’s profitability by six times. That’s six times as much capital to invest back into our company, adding even more automation and benefits for our work force.
  • The ability to hire more employees – Not only has changing over to an automated production process saved our company from the threat of bankruptcy, saving the jobs of everyone here, it has allowed us to expand our work force. Since going automated, Marlin Steel has nearly doubled the size of the work force, adding engineers and automated production specialists to our existing team. While many might fear that automation eliminates jobs, here at Marlin Steel, it has created new opportunities for employment, and we know that it can do the same for many other businesses.
  • More competitive benefits for employees – Now that Marlin Steel’s employees are more productive than ever before, we provide them better pay and more benefits to match that increased productivity. Our employees receive medical coverage, 401(k) plans and vacations in addition to an increase in their base pay. Plus, by working with automated machinery and acquiring new job skills, our employees will be better positioned to work with other high-tech businesses in the future.

Ultimately, the move to automation for Marlin Steel has been overwhelmingly positive. If you want to see the video, you can find it here. Or, if you have other questions about our company, contact us today.

Lights…Camera…Marlin! Transforming Marlin Steel Wire Products

Marlin Steel Wire ProductsMarlin Steel Wire is now featured in a video produced by The Hitachi Foundation. This video highlights our core strengths – “Quality Engineering Quick.®”  In five minutes, it shows how Marlin Steel was able to turn our wire products business around and meet our customer’s needs, strengthen our bottom line, boost earnings and offer our associates advancement opportunities. It also showcases our SkillsMatrix that emphasizes cross-training and our focus on production bonuses and paid training.

In 2013, The Hitachi Foundation designated Marlin Steel a Pioneer Employer – awarded by the Precision Metalforming Association – in recognition of our growth in revenues as well as our focus on creating opportunities for our associates and our investment in their professional success.

The video shows how Marlin aligns the interests and objectives of our employees, management, and customers to achieve high-quality results. By linking our client’s expectations with production team goals, we are able to share Marlin’s financial success with our associates.

The video features interviews with a few of our exceptional Marlin Steel team members – Nathan Myers, Liston Clise, Kenny Browning, Hector Carmona, and Andy Croniser.

Please watch the video and share it with your colleagues.

The Hitachi Foundation also blogged about us in – From Bagels to Boeing. It tells our comeback story and showcases how our team’s advanced manufacturing skills and agility have kept us growing eight years in a row.

Marlin Steel president on health care on Greta Van Susteren last night

 Greta Van Susteren

Marlin Steel President Drew Greenblatt was on the Greta Van Susteren show last night to discuss the impact of health care insurance costs on small business after testifying on the topic earlier in the day before a Senate committee on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers. Click here for the video link.