With great strides in recent years, hearing aids are becoming just as technologically advanced as other electronics, like LED TVs or iPads. So maybe you can’t play Words With Friends on a hearing aid. Yet. But the newest crop of audio assistance devices on the market do their best to achieve an unprecedented level of integration with those types of devices, and more. We take a look at those products, and some other interesting industry news, in this week’s blog.
Solar power: Seeking to address a community which otherwise might not have access to hearing aids, the inventor and associates described in this piece developed battery-free devices, operated through solar power. As of now, 20,000 people in 30 countries have benefitted from this combination of ingenuity and generosity, with more nations on tap.
Maybe some real talk is exactly what is needed to keep manufacturing on the right path in the near and distant future. As close observers of news throughout the industry, beyond just our core of precision metal stamping, we’re well aware of the obstacles facing manufacturers in the U.S. and abroad. Throughout these tough times, though, our optimism has grown due to the fact that the issues are being addressed head on. Too often, hindsight provides the answers when it’s already too late. In manufacturing, industry leaders are aware of these problems – and have a plan to fix them.
Nowhere, perhaps, have the sticking points been addressed more directly or cohesively than in former National Association of Manufacturers President Jerry Jasinowski’s piece on a proposed agenda for manufacturing. Beyond the familiar topics of the U.S. technical skills gap and the need for favorable trade agreements, Jasinowski takes a proactive approach to two other areas. Technology innovation has not often been seen as a weak area for the U.S., but he suggests a closer look in the rear-view mirror to maintain our dominance as research and development experts. Additionally, he calls for a unified, favorable, and common-sense tax plan to foster development and production here in the U.S. No arguments on any of his points here – at Keats, we’re committed, through our partnerships and our production, to the continued success of the industry.
Planes, trains, and automobiles: familiar trappings of holiday travelers around this time of year. A steel plant in Pueblo, CO, is benefitting from the continuing growth of at least one of those ever-enjoyable travel methods: with the need for head-hardened steel used in laying rails expanding, the facility will be stepping up its production in 2012. This growth in investment will be accompanied by further efforts to produce higher-quality rail steel, capable of handling the heavy-duty demands of railcar coal transport in addition to travel and commuter rail.
Our work here at Keats Manufacturing is a bit removed from high-impact rail construction, but the repercussions in the industry at large are apparent. Our products do, of course, involve steel, and we’ve seen a number of commodity suppliers come and go over the past few years, in the face of waning production and a difficult economic climate. An investment of this caliber by any raw material producer is a sure sign of strength in the larger manufacturing world – and we also applaud the continued innovation in an industry as well-established as steel production.
This NASDAQ report on Nucor’s 4th quarter forecast – expecting year-over-year growth from Q4 2010, but a decline from Q3 numbers – also discusses how the steel manufacturer’s strengths and weaknesses play into the manufacturing market and industry. Of course, like any commodity, pricing of Nucor’s products – sheet steel, rolled steel, and so on – and subsequent profit or loss, is tied directly to the performance of those companies that purchase these materials.
Core U.S. manufacturing sectors like automotive, energy, and heavy equipment have, according to Nucor, been stronger this year than last. Obviously, this is great news, with the only minor downside being that an especially strong early 2011 means that a downward trend was shown for the year as a whole. Especially in this still-uncertain economic climate, such ups and downs are to be expected, and we see a positive outlook in the fact that this year’s lows are higher than last year’s lows – and, in some cases, are even better than previous highs. Also something to look forward to: a renewed burst of raw material purchasing as budgets are replenished in January, promising another early-year boom for 2012. Keep in touch with Keats for more information moving forward!