If your company relies on a steady supply of steel, you are probably quite aware that the price of U.S. benchmark hot-rolled coil steel recently hit a two-year high of $783 a ton. At the same time, European steel prices have fallen, leaving a $128-a-ton gap between the two regions. That’s both good and bad news. Good, because the improvement in prices on this side of the Atlantic means that manufacturers and suppliers are responding to some very welcomed, upbeat economic data, like a drop in new unemployment claims, a rise in the ISM purchasing managers’ index, and the highest steel mill production since the beginning of the financial crisis.
It’s bad news because higher prices for raw materials all too often do need to be dispersed between manufacturer and customer. Also, the slew of negative European economic factors equals lower overseas demand and sales.
Because we’re a company built on long-term relationships, we just want to let you know that we’re doing everything we can to control costs so you don’t feel the pinch. If your prices do increase, we want you to know why. As a trusted vendor of high-quality steel stampings, wire, and assemblies, we watch the trends and pricing forecasts closely to stay competitive and cost-effective for our customers.
With this in mind, Keats wants to promise everyone that we will make every effort to keep you informed about any price fluctuations that might affect your bottom line.
Prices rise and prices fall, but just know that our quality and commitment to you, the customer, will always remain high.
There has been a great deal of talk about the future of alternative fuels. From electric to natural gas to hybrids, it often seems that the auto industry is only focused on moving away from fossil fuels and combustion engines. But in fact that is not really the case. Major auto makers like Ford know that while alternative energies heavily influence today’s automotive landscape, the near future is going to demand traditional combustion engines with increased fuel efficiency. In fact, federally-mandated CAFE (Corperate Average Fuel Economy) standards for small passenger cars will increase from today’s 36 MPG to 61 MPG in 2025. Therefore, industry leaders like Ford will need to find a way to make a 100-year-old product nearly twice as efficient in just 13 years.
To reach these goals and still make cars and trucks that people want to drive – and can afford – Ford has designed a new line of engine, dubbed the EcoBoost. These exciting new engines help boost fuel efficiency by shrinking the size of the internal components – while increasing performance through a combination of improved fuel injection and turbocharger technology.
At Keats we know we are going to play a large role in this push for greater fuel efficiency. We recently designed and built a new fuelinjection steel shield that is used in modern, fuel efficient combustion engines. We’ve used four-slide and multi-slide stamping to manufacture 3,000,000 of these custom cold rolled steel shields, which were created to help all companies at the forefront of automotive manufacturing reach their lofty fuel management goals. Because we are already at the center of this burgeoning designing and manufacturing movement, Keats is well positioned to take full advantage of the next 20 years in automotive innovation and change.
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.
Bluetooth support: As a cursory glance at this list of articles proves, this is one of the hottest trends in hearing aids today. Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids combine the best of all worlds: environmental audio amplification, along with audio feeds from your cell phone, music player, television, and more, directly into your ear, through the device – with no wires. Fears of frequency interference and tangled connections are a thing of the past, and no longer do hearing aids need to be switched out for earphones or headsets. Truly a breakthrough in convenience and assistance for all hearing aid users.
Attractive asthetics: This hearing aid combines a stylish look with an incredibly useful visual feedback feature. Bucking the trend of smaller and smaller assistance devices, this one is meant to be seen. With the appearance of an earring, the hearing aid also features a small LCD-type screen that displays a green, yellow, red, or blue wavelength symbol to indicate whether a speaker is too loud, too soft, too fast, or just right. In the concept stage right now, this one would certainly make a useful addition to the hearing aid market.
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.
As metal stamping experts with exactly the type of fine-precision capabilities to produce hearing aid components, we look forward to the opportunity to be part of such useful and innovative technologies. Visit our sitefor more information.
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.