May I get a bit personal and ask how business is? In fairness, that question could mean a few things. One would be how healthy things are and your ability to meet all of your costs. It could also touch on issues like your ability to find and keep good people who know this high-temperature thermal-processing business. With those two things in mind, let’s talk.

From where I sit, it looks like your business seems either to be a bit up and down, or it could be suffering from some uncertainty. I’m sure this mixed-up election year is no stabilizer. The reason I say things seem to be up and down comes from our monthly economic indicators. Since early this year, we have had a couple mixed months with more ups than downs. May’s numbers were all down, however, as responders compared their business from March to April. June recovered in all categories, but most numbers are still lower than what was experienced earlier in the year. 

Other numbers from the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) indicate that while the economy overall has seen very modest job gains, manufacturing has actually experienced job losses. An example is May, in which the economy added 38,000 jobs while manufacturing lost 18,000. AAM attributes these losses, at least in part, to our goods-and-services trade deficit. In April, this deficit was $37.4 billion, up $1.9 billion from March. With China alone, it is $26.6 billion.

Speaking of politics, President Obama promised 1 million new manufacturing jobs during his presidency, and with just a few months to go, this number is just 325,000. Remember this when listening to political rhetoric this fall.

In spite of all of the uncertainty swirling around us and affecting our businesses, we can do things that bring us closer to reality and provide us with training as well as social interaction with others in our industry. One of those things is coming up in a few short months. FNA 2016, in Nashville on October 3-5, promises a dose of motivation and encouragement along with some great technical discussions to help us hone our skills and understanding.

This year, the technical education sessions are broken into 10 different tracks. These are titled Equipment/Maintenance, Induction, Emerging Technology, Materials, Compliance, Fire Safety, Processes, Vacuum, Heat Treat Systems and Operations. Each of these tracks has either three or four sessions. Here are just a few of the topics:

  • Efficient Gas Heating of Industrial Furnaces
  • Induction and Furnace Tempering of Martensitic Steels
  • Vacuum Heat Treatments of Additive Manufactured Components
  • Hybrid Fixturing
  • AMS 2750 Interpretation Challenges
  • Explosions – Where Do They Start?
  • Recent Developments in Modern Heat Treatment Systems
  • New Developments in Vacuum Furnace Hot Zone Designs
  • Increasing Productivity in Atmospheric Carburizing
  • Using, Saving and Managing Energy in a Heat Treat Facility

Whether your business is booming or a bit of a bust right now, attending FNA could be just what you and your key employees need to motivate and educate. Being around others in our industry always helps us realize there is something outside our own little world, no matter how big that world may be.

As usual, Industrial Heating will be well represented. Stop by our booth (525) to say hello. We look forward to seeing you there.