On the Wire | News and Analysis from the Web

Culture comes first for precision metal fab shop Laystrom Manufacturing.  The Fabricator 2/8
“Laystrom Manufacturing Co. is in the middle of a Chicago neighborhood, just blocks from the city’s hipster hangout in Bucktown. While the location is unique when compared to hundreds of competitors in the metropolitan area and the Midwest, the inside of the Laystrom facility looks like almost any other precision metal fabrication shop. It has laser cutting machines, press brakes, and welding power sources. Raw sheet metal is delivered, and several days later finished metal parts and assemblies are shipped out. . . .”

Trucking contract rates up 12% year-over-year.  FreightWaves/American Shipper 2/6
“Shippers spent 12% more per mile for dry van truckloads on average through most of the fourth quarter of 2020 than they did in 2019. That is according to FreightWaves’ newest dataset that measures trends in long-term rates (not spot rates) between shippers and van carriers, Van Contract Base Rate Rate per Mile (VCRPMF). . . .”

Will Purchasing Change Ever Happen?  IndustryWeek 2/5
“In my forty-plus years in industry—most of them working in purchasing—I’ve never seen as many Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) publically stating that they will be re-evaluating their procurement strategies and processes. This, of course, is in response to Covid-19 and the supply chain disruptions it caused across the globe. I wonder about this stated intent in at least three ways: . . .”

What You Need to Know About OSHA’s Jan. 29 COVID Guidance.  EHS Today 2/4
“When the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued its comprehensive guidance on what employers are expected to do to protect their workers from the COVID-19 virus, the bulk of the 6,000-word document repeated much of the advice that was contained in previous agency guidances issued over the course of the past year, but there are a few new wrinkles employers need to be aware of. . . .”

Five ways machine learning will transform manufacturing in 2021.  Plant Engineering 2/2
“Technology advances, such as complex robotic systems and artificial intelligence (AI), transformed manufacturing over the past decade and driven what’s commonly called the Industry 4.0 Revolution. COVID-19 has further accelerated this transformation for many manufacturers as more plant operations need to be run effectively, and in many cases, be monitored and managed remotely. Machine learning (ML) — a branch of artificial intelligence centered around creating computer programs that learn from experience and improve their decision-making ability over time — is increasingly important in many industries, and manufacturing is no exception. . . .”

Industrial control systems vulnerabilities rise as operational tech increasingly goes online.  TechRepublic 2/4
“Industrial cybersecurity company, Claroty, has released its biannual industrial control systems (ICS) risk and vulnerability report, which found that the number of reported vulnerabilities increased by 25% when compared to 2019, with critical infrastructure areas like manufacturing, energy, water, and commercial facilities being most affected. . . .”

Procurement and finance, it’s time to cast your tensions aside.  Supply Chain Dive 2/4
“It’s time procurement and finance, two historically adversarial functions, join forces in an effort to create value for their company. The traditional scoreboarding relationship, built on distrust, poor communication and a lack of understanding of supply chain and financial realities, perpetuates misplaced tensions and missed opportunities. . . .”

COVID-19 Has Widened the Skills Gap. But It Also Presents an Opportunity to Close It.  Ed Surge 2/1
“America’s skills gap has been widely discussed. The friction between postsecondary institutions failing to properly prepare job seekers and unrealistic employer expectations has led to seven million unfilled openings. Not surprisingly, the challenge worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic, and there are still nearly as many unfilled jobs with near-record unemployment in a recession. . . .”