CIRAS DIGEST: Friday, June 5, 2015

  • The Des Moines Register has seen the latest Fortune 500 list. Principal Financial Group and Casey’s General Stores are both on it, both more highly positioned than previously (282 and 382, respectively). Rockwell Collins, HNI Corp. and American Equity Investment Life are all in the top 1,000.
  • Earlier this week, the Register saw the latest Iowa Business Conditions Index, which is predicting slow growth for Iowa’s economy over the next few months.
  • Cummins engine plant in Columbus, Indiana.
    Cummins engine plant in Columbus, Indiana.

    Growth continues in Indiana, however, according to the BBC. The British Broadcasting Corp. has a piece on Indiana’s role as a manufacturing hotspot. Essentially, the argument is that things are working well for the Hossiers because 1) manufacturing is spread throughout the state and not concentrated in a single area and 2) the state government funded its pensions properly and therefore was able to offer business-friendly tax cuts and attract jobs shortly before the recession hit.

  • Continuing with manufacturing: There’s no real point behind it, but The Wall Street Journal has an interesting vignette on the hassles involved in efforts by a dental products company to reshore its production to Michigan.
  • In another article, the Journal has a Q & A with Willy Shih, a professor of management at Harvard Business School, about why “a domestic manufacturing renaissance won’t be easy to pull off.”
  • And elsewhere, the Journal also has a piece in its Leadership Report blog about 3-D printing and its potential to “change everything” about manufacturing. Despite its headline, the article doesn’t actually say how that’s going to happen. But it does frame the issue eloquently:  “With the advent of commercial 3-D printing, we are on the cusp of yet another seismic change in our assumptions of how manufacturing is conducted. Entire concepts that have underpinned the gospel of manufacturing, including lean manufacturing, six sigma quality, supply chain management, and many others will be challenged in the same, difficult-to-grasp way that electric motors called into question the gospel of plant design back in the 1900s.”
  • In a similar vein, the Irish Times as a piece on the Internet of things and the changes it will bring to manufacturing. Nothing earth-shattering here, but it’s a broad look at the industry.
  • And a website called 3D Printing Progress has an article describing various efforts now underway to boost confidence in additive manufacturing technologies. Most of it has to do with materials concerns and how to guarantee that stuff meets predictable standards.

Thanks for reading.

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