When in doubt, blame the Canadians first, research later

I found this very interesting post, in my drafts folder, from 2005. It seems even more appropriate now, so I thought I’d finally publish it.

When I was a kid, I remember a sign in a hardware store

“We have an agreement with the bank.
They don’t manufacture hardware.
We don’t offer credit”
In a similar vein, I wish I could put this sign on this blog:
This is a stamping BLOG. We don’t do politics here
But the reality, at least for the moment, is that politics is already in stamping, or at least in the sourcing decisions that are bread and butter for most job-shop stamping shops. So today there is politics in the stamping BLOG. When it leaves my arena, I’ll leave its.
Today I was a bit steamed under the collar (and not just by the heat wave). Yet another case of “blame the Canadians” has come to light.
For those who don’t know what I mean, consider the following:
  1. After the Sept 11 hijackings, “everyone knew” that the hijackers came from Canada. Despite the fact that it was not true. Not even one of them came from Canada. But 4 years later there are still people who believe it. It seems it’s easier to blame Canada first, and do the research later (if ever). Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the US House of Representatives, who repeated the story recently now is sorry for comments about Canada and deeply regrets” what has become a “widespread inaccuracy.” How did it become widespread inaccuracy? Because of people like Newt Gingrich.
  2. The power failure in 2002 was blamed, within hours, on the Canadian grid. Not true. A commission said it was a cascade failure (the electrical equivalent of one domino falling and knocking over a bunch more) traced back to a problem with the EastLake plant of FirstEnergy Corp. of Ohio. The commission took 3 months to determine, with certainty, the cause. In the early hours, Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, said “For some reason or other, there was a power failure in northern New York or southern Canada. “ But that was wrong – the failure was in neither New York nor Canada.
  3. The war on drugs – man am I tired of hearing that Canada is the culprit here. John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, after saying “huge quantities of marijuana are grown domestically“, goes on to say “perhaps one-third of the total U.S. marijuana supply — come[s] from Canada.” Of course, we all grow it up here in our long, luxurious growing season (for those of you unfamiliar with Canadian climate, here in southern Ontario, easily the best growing season in the country, we can barely grow special short-season tomatoes in our condensed summers). Or, for the indoor growers amongst us, our especially low hydro electric rates (higher than most of the US except California). According to the DEA, marijuana produced in Mexico remains the most widely available in the US, but Canada is edging into the US market with a higher-potency marijuana. From the White Houses own drug policy web site and specifically the marijuana page , The primary foreign sources for marijuana in the United States are Mexico, Canada, Colombia, and Jamaica. During 2002, Mexico produced about 7,900 metric tons and Colombia produced 4,000 metric tons of marijuana. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police estimates that 800 metric tons of cannabis are produced annually in Canada. Some 214 metric tons were produced in Jamaica in 1997 (the most recent data available). So let’s get out our calculators. Would you believe the Canadian proportion, using those same numbers, is 6.2%? So why is Canada the big problem here?
  4. Mad Cows – the thing that set me off tonight. One mad cow was discovered in the US 2 years ago, and in it’s infancy it came from Canada, at a time when neither the US nor Canada had abandoned the practice of feeding cow byproducts to cows (both have, in the mean time, stopped this practice). That one cow has closed the Canada/US border for the last 2 years. Today they found a US cow (as it turns out, they found it last November, but it was a very well kept secret for a long time) that was provably born in Texas, that also has BSE (“Mad Cow” disease). Wanna bet the border will stay closed?
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Ottawa’s manufacturing fund a mirage

There is a $200-million pot of money in Ottawa earmarked for Ontario’s hard-hit manufacturing sector.

The Advanced Manufacturing Fund (AMF) was announced in February 2013 by then-finance minister Jim Flaherty. It was officially launched last December by Minister of State Gary Goodyear, who speaks for Ontario in cabinet. It was cited by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in April at a forum hosted by the Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge chambers of commerce as proof of his government’s efforts to promote the province’s economic growth. It has been re-announced by various cabinet ministers.

To date, not a single project has been approved. Not one dollar has been released. Not one job has been created.

Ottawa’s manufacturing fund a mirage: Goar | Toronto Star.

Posted in manufacturing | 2 Comments

High school co-op student dies at work placement

At a time when we’re having a hard time finding people interested and willing to go into trades, despite a shortage, it’s inexcusable that co-op students are exempt from health and safety laws.

High school co-op student dies at work placement | Toronto Star.

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U.S. Steel Canada files for creditor protection

The former Stelco, now a division of U.S. Steel, is in trouble. Creditor protection is the “only option”. This, on the same day as another article proclaims “Canada’s manufacturing sector posted record sales for July and topped expectations as it gained 2.5 per cent”. If they cannot make a profit when manufacturing is good, how will they fair later?

U.S. Steel Canada files for creditor protection | Toronto Star.

Canadian manufacturing sales hit record monthly high | Toronto Star.

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Canada manufacturing growth index at 4-month low in December – Yahoo Finance Canada

Canada manufacturing growth index at 4-month low in December – Yahoo Finance Canada.

Manufacturing activity has been expanding for nine months in a row. It hit a 2-1/2-year peak in October.

Still, the manufacturing sector should gain momentum in 2014, said Paul Ferley, assistant chief economist at RBC.

“Our outlook for 2014 is underpinned by the assumption that Canadian exports will firm as the U.S. continues on a path of recovery – this will provide a healthier environment for manufacturing to further grow in the new year,”

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2 Ontario firms allege Chinese steel sinks violate trade rules, probes launched – Yahoo! Canada Finance

2 Ontario firms allege Chinese steel sinks violate trade rules, probes launched – Yahoo! Canada Finance

The Canadian International Trade Tribunal will begin a preliminary inquiry to determine whether the imports are harming Canadian producers and hand down a decision by Dec. 28.

The border services agency will investigate whether the imports are being dumped and/or subsidized and will make a decision by Jan. 25.

Last April, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal announced imports of steel grating from China will be hit with anti-dumping and countervailing duties. The tribunal found the dumping and subsidizing of non-stainless steel grating from China had harmed Canadian companies.

I’d say it’s about time. It’s been going on a long time. Many companies have gone out of business waiting for their complaints to be heard.

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Firefighters respond to fire at former LMS building

Firefighters from two area departments along with the Sebewaing police were dispatched Wednesday to a fire at the former Lapeer Metal Stamping (LMS) building in the village.

LMS opened in October 2004 after the former Tower Automotive plant closed in 2002. When LMS was accepting applications prior to the opening of the plant, about 900 people applied, according to a story published at the time by the Huron Daily Tribune. LMS closed its doors in 2008. Approximately 100 people were employed there at the time of the closure.

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American Axle to avoid Chapter 11

From the Detroit Free Press

American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. said Thursday it reached a new deal with its lenders and its largest customer, General Motors Co., that will allow the supplier to avert a bankruptcy filing.

The new deal ends months of negotiations between the Detroit-based supplier, its banks and GM after American Axle breached the terms of its loan when its debt and interest costs ran too high.

This passed me by at the time, but it’s dated September 18th. A friend who lives in the effected area pointed it out to me.

The deal American Axle negotiated doesn’t cut the company’s debt. But it does give American Axle cash to maintain its operations through the industry’s downturn, to a time when the company might be able to repay its loans.

I imagine this is good news for their suppliers and workers, but also might set a precedent (and perhaps a blueprint) for metal stampers to follow through these hard times.

Posted in auto, manufacturing | 2 Comments

China coal mine accident kills 13, 66 missing

Via Yahoo! Canada News

A coal mine accident early on Tuesday killed 13 people and 66 others were missing in central China’s Henan Province, the Xinhua news agency reported, citing the state work safety watchdog.

China’s mines are the deadliest in the world, due to lax safety standards and a rush to feed demand from a robust economy. More than 3,000 people died in coal mine accidents in 2008 alone.

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Metaklett, A Steely Hook And Loop Fastener

From Science Daily:
Hook and loop fasteners have become commonplace features of both industry and households. However, they have one snag: they are too weak for many applications. Hook and loop fasteners made of spring steel have now been developed at the Institute of Metal Forming and Casting of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen. These fasteners are resistant to chemicals and can withstand a tensile load of up to 35 tonnes per square meter at temperatures as high as 800°C.

Spring Steel Velco, that’s what we’re talking about here.

Temperatures in excess of 800 °C and aggressive chemical solutions do not pose any problem for Metaklett, which also offers adhesive strength of up to 35 tonnes per square meter when tensile force is applied parallel to the fastener surface. When it is applied perpendicular to the fastener surface, Metaklett can still withstand a force of seven tonnes per square meter. Moreover, like a standard Velcro® fastener on a child’s shoe, it can be opened and closed again without the help of any tools.

You can read the original press release from TUM (Technical University of Munich) in English . A German language version is also available on that page. Use the language buttons in the upper right corner.

Posted in auto, manufacturing, Steel | 5 Comments