Today’s Machining World did an interview in the April issue with David Plitt, the foreman of the U of C machine shop. This video is an excerpt of the interview. He discusses several of the projects that the machine shop has assisted with, including a balloon designed to collect cosmic rays.
Machinery dealer Jim Graff just got back from a Delphi auction in Kettering Ohio. He reported that most machines there were selling very cheaply and that many were leaving the country. The two biggest buyers at the auction were from India and Peru, who primarily bought small production machines such as milling machines, Bridgeports, and Dennison Presses. Most of the Acme multi spindles and Acme repair parts were baught by dealers. Jim also observed that there was a strong presence of online bidders.
This day on March 18, 1662, the first bus service began in France. Blaise Pascal, most famous for his mathematics, physics and philosophical genius, conceived the idea. The system started with seven horse-drawn vehicles running along regular routes. Each coach could carry six or eight passengers. King Louis XIV granted a royal monopoly: Try to compete, and your horses and vehicles would be taken away.
The fundamental problem of the bus service’s business model was that in the feudal society of seventeenth century France only the nobility and gentry were allowed to ride, which they did purely for amusement. The common folks that the service could really benefit, the soldiers and peasants, weren’t allowed to ride, so when the novelty of the new invention wore off, bus service ended in 1695.
The bus concept did not reappear in France, along with New York City and London until early Nineteenth Century – post feudalism.
Most great inventions follow a similar pattern as the bus’s. They start out as a novelty only accessible to the elite. Not until they finally become accessible to the masses do they have the power to change the world. When the first computers were invented only a select group of scientists could use them. People dismissed the idea that they could be useful to the common man. Not until personal computers became affordable to the world’s middle class and easy enough for an average person to operate, did they revolutionize how people communicate and find information. Yesterday, March 17, Tesla Motors began production on its Tesla Roadster, which will sell for a base price of 98,000 dollars. It will look cool, it will be better for the environment than cars with internal combustion engines, it will eliminate the need for its owner to buy gasoline, but until the masses can afford one and reap its benefits the electric car will not change the world.
Sources, Wired Magazine, www.teslamotors.com
A recent story by Frank Langfitton on NPR’s “All Things Considered” reported that rising costs and shifts in Chinese government policy are actually forcing hundreds of smaller Chinese factories to close. According to the story, profit margins are disappearing as a result of the rising Chinese currency value, which has forced manufacturers to move their operations to lower cost countries such as Vietnam.
The story reports that China’s government wants to encourage higher-tech manufacturing, so it is taking away the incentives it used to give to cheap goods manufacturers such as no taxes and cheap rent. China wants to follow the same path as its fellow Asian countries such as Japan and Taiwan, whose products eventually progressed from low-tech to high-tech. This movement to more sophisticated types of production has created the same obstacle for Chinese companies that challenges U.S. companies – finding skilled labor.
Familiar patterns aren’t they.
American Axle has finally sat down at the bargaining table with the UAW since its members went on strike Feb. 26. Since the strike, 10 plants have been shut down and about 20 percent of GM’s workforce has been affected. What makes this strike different from other recent UAW strikes is that GM has so much inventory in its truck divisions that it is not under such urgency to get a deal hammered out quickly. Also, unlike other recent UAW strikes, the company trying to cut wages is not in bankruptcy. American Axle made 37 million dollars last year. It’s hard to convince a union to allow wage cuts for a company which has been so profitable.
In this video Eric Merkle, Vice President of forecasting for consulting firm IRN Inc., discusses the effects of the American Axle strike.
European based industrial auctioneer GoIndustry is on the cusp of buying DoveBid, the largest Internet industrial auction company in the United States.
The industrial auction segment of eBay has suffered of late, as the company appears to have lost touch with that niche customer base.
In this video, machine tool dealers Lloyd and Jim Graff of Graff Pinkert & Co. give their insider’s perspective on the worldwide consolidation taking place in the industrial equipment auction business.
In this video Lloyd and Jim discuss the current state of eBay, addressing where the company has gone wrong in its approach to industrial auctions and the overall experience of its users.
Recently there have been four deaths and 350 significant allergic reactions from a contaminated supply of Heparin sold by the Baxter brand. Baxter outsources a key ingredient for Heparin in China which has been identified as the cause of the health disaster.
The following are two vlogs on the 2008 presidential election by Lloyd Graff, editor and owner of
In this video, Lloyd Graff criticizes a recent article by John Ratzenberger which says “a president should be able to change a tire” in order to represent the common man and demonstrate the importance of keeping manufacturing in the United States. He believes the most important thing for our next president is that he or she can unite the people.
In this video, Lloyd says that he will vote for Barack Obama despite disagreeing with 80 percent of his policies. He believes that an Obama presidency is an unprecedented opportunity for reconciliation among races in the United States, and that is more important than his politics.
In the 2008 January issue, Today’s Machining World did an interview with Dennis Hoff, president of Hoff-Hilk Auction Services, an online auctioneer which sells commercial and capital equipment exclusively. In the interview Hoff gives an insider’s perspective on the online auction business, discussing the effects of auctions on both the buyers and sellers from both a monetary standpoint as well as psychological one.
In this video Hoff addresses how site coordinators for an auction sale often must play “psychologist” to help sellers cope with the pain or angst which often accompanies selling their businesses.
In this video Hoff says candidly that while both buyers and sellers often don’t feel auctions are fair, he thinks that after an online sale the sellers generally feel more satisfied. He attributes this to the convenience of bidding online, which brings more people from far off places to compete in the sale.
Rarely have I ever seen such a dramatic glass half empty, glass half filled story.
The pessimists, the bears, the media based in New York and the economists who work for money center banks see an economy tanking, dollar falling apart, housing dead for a decade, and a stock market shuffling in the mud. Virtually, blood in the streets.
The optimists see a slowdown in housing offset by a surge in exports. They see softening interest rates, a useful fiscal stimulus that will easily pass Congress and be signed, a bottoming residential real estate climate very inviting to speculators, and booming economic growth in the U.S. by late 2008. They also see oil softening to $75 a barrel and refiners keeping gas well under $3 per gallon. The only real inflation is caused by the idiotic ethanol boondoggle which has screwed up the old balances in American agriculture.
When I look at the two scenarios, the glass half full view looks much more likely, particularly in the industrial arena. Wall Street has taken a series of body blows because of the latest derivatives fiasco. The sub-prime mortgage market is unwinding, but the refinancing wave will begin very soon as 5 percent money becomes available to solvent borrowers. If you add this to benign commercial rates, tax cuts for individuals, weak dollar, modest inflation, cheaper gas, a national election, and cheaper depreciation and small business write-offs, it spells explosive rebound. Man on the street confidence is soft now, and business has caught the fear bug because of the shrill, no-nothing New York media claque, but this will turn as the election gets closer. People are tired of Bush. An Obama presidency is both enormously bullish for personal confidence and very scary because of the senator’s leftist rhetoric. A Clinton nomination probably means another Republican in the White House, which means gridlock, which is usually bullish.
So at the end of January, 2008, the year looks very promising – if we are not blinded by the sourpusses.
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