Podcasts… they’re everywhere, and they’re likely not going away anytime soon. In fact, Pew Research shows a steady increase in the percentage of Americans listening to podcasts. In 2023, 64% of Americans listened to a podcast. This is up from 11% in 2006.
If you’re one of the 64% of American people who “edutain” themselves with podcasts, great! If you’re not, that’s okay, too. Either way, below are some really great podcasts you should check out. We call them the “Top 6 Manufacturing Podcasts.” Listen to one or listen to them all, and we guarantee that you’ll learn something you didn’t already know.
This list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t mention Manufacturing Happy Hour with Chris Luecke. He’s an incredible advocate of manufacturing and brings all the hot topics to the forefront in this podcast.
Shop Matters talks all things machining and manufacturing and is hosted by Wade Anderson, a machinist by trade in his early career. This podcast also happens to be sponsored by Okuma.
Forbes recently reported that 30% of manufacturing jobs in the United States are filled by women. Listen to these women, and more, in Hear Her Story where women talk about their journeys and experiences in the manufacturing and engineering worlds.
There are plenty of opinions on talk radio and plenty of opinions about talk radio. That’s what makes it great. Check out Manufacturing Talk Radio for a multitude of topics, conversations, SMEs and so much more!
Just like #4 on this list, the next one covers a lot of topics and is perfect for anyone, and everyone, working in manufacturing, from entry-level tradespeople to executive level leaders. You have to check out Gary on Manufacturing.
And, last but not least, I want to make sure that we include Mindfulness Manufacturing on this list. With all the technology and thinking that goes on in manufacturing, this one helps you apply mindfulness to not only your personal life but also your professional life.
For more manufacturing related content (of all kinds), check out FlexTrades’ blog where we highlight anything and everything manufacturing. Would you rather watch or listen to something instead of reading? We’ve got great content on YouTube, as well. Who knows, we might just have our own podcast soon, too!
FlexTrades plays a pivotal role in the manufacturing sector by providing highly skilled tradespeople, thereby enhancing production efficiency, minimizing downtime, and reducing backlogs. In essence, we bridge the talent gaps commonly encountered by manufacturers throughout the United States. Many of our clients operate in similar sectors, including:
Primary Metal Manufacturing
Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing
Electrical Equipment, Appliance, and Component Manufacturing
Transportation Equipment Manufacturing
But did you know that our capabilities extend even further?
Our team of technicians boasts diverse skills and backgrounds, allowing us to address production challenges in numerous other industries. Whether you are a manufacturer with requirements in these sectors or a tradesperson with relevant skills and experience, FlexTrades welcomes you with open arms.
Beverage & Tobacco
Nonmetallic Mineral Product Mfg.
Textile Product Mills
Leather & Allied Product Mfg.
Wood Product Mfg.
Printing & Related Support Activities
Petroleum & Coal Products Mfg.
Furniture & Related Product Mfg.
Merchant Wholesaler – Durable & Non-Durable Goods
Need a real-life example?
We recently joined forces with a prominent rice manufacturing company. As the harvest season approached, they faced a substantial workload. However, their facility was situated in a rural area, making it impractical to significantly expand their internal workforce temporarily. Consequently, they turned to FlexTrades for support. Our skilled technicians were deployed to meet the demands of the harvest season and more. They assumed various roles such as Scale Attendants, Heavy Equipment Operators, Line/Machine Operators, Sanitation Technicians, Maintenance Technicians, Control Room Operators, Lab Technicians, Packaging Operators, and Material Handlers. Thanks to our skilled trades technicians, FlexTrades ensured that all rice processed at the facility adhered to high-quality standards before being packaged and shipped to grocery store shelves.
Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, we all face the same challenge – waking up in the morning. For many of us, mornings can be a struggle, whether we rise at the break of dawn or in the afternoon due to night shifts. This common difficulty is often attributed to sleep inertia. If you’re one of those who find mornings serene, this article may not be your cup of tea. But for the rest of us, mornings are far from a breeze.
There are various strategies to make mornings more manageable, such as minimizing screen time, avoiding specific foods or drinks, and reducing exposure to unwanted light at night. Similarly, there are steps you can take in the morning to make waking up less daunting, like welcoming natural light as early as possible or changing your alarm tone to something soothing. However, these measures are often insufficient on their own. One of the most effective ways to ease into your mornings and set a positive tone for the day is by establishing a morning routine.
Having a morning routine means you wake up with a clear understanding of what lies ahead. This predictability makes it significantly easier to leave your cozy bed. It becomes a habit; no need to deliberate, and that alone simplifies the process of waking up. When executed correctly, your morning routine can boost your energy, enhance your productivity, and foster a positive outlook throughout the day. Who can resist those benefits, right?
As you contemplate crafting a morning routine, keep a few key considerations in mind. The duration of your routine is entirely up to you, and the activities you include should cater to your individual needs and preferences. Additionally, remember that the time it takes for your routine to become second nature will vary, but the essential part is persevering until it becomes a natural part of your day.
Here are some action items to consider. You can choose to incorporate all of them, a few, or none at all. The important thing is to establish a morning routine. And don’t forget to reassess your routine if, after a period of practice, you find the benefits aren’t outweighing the drawbacks:
Wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
Allow yourself ample time to ease into the day, and savor the first 30-60 minutes at a leisurely pace.
Try to wake up before anyone else, creating a tranquil environment for you, your space, and the day ahead.
Resist the urge to check your phone, calendar, or to-do list. Save these tasks for when you’re feeling the positive and energetic effects of your morning routine.
Consider meditation or soothing music.
Incorporate some light stretching or engage in a full-blown workout – just something to get your body moving differently.
Dedicate a moment to yourself with a cup of coffee, tea, or even an energy drink, while you read, enjoy nature, or practice mindfulness.
Explore the invigorating effects of a cold shower.
We trust that you’ll find these suggestions valuable and that they contribute to more productive (or, at the very least, easier) mornings. However, morning routines are not the sole habits that can enhance your day. If you’re looking to make habit-building a routine in itself, consider these tips from the CDC as well.
Each year, we eagerly anticipate the arrival of Manufacturing Day (MFG Day), which takes place on the first Friday of October. Often, this celebration extends throughout the entire month, highlighting the significance of the manufacturing industry.
Conduct Manufacturing Tours: Organize manufacturing tours within your facility. These tours can be in-person or virtual, making them accessible to individuals of all ages.
Educational Fair or Expo: Collaborate with other manufacturers in your area to host an educational fair or expo. Create informative displays, offer hands-on activities or demonstrations, and promote the event with giveaways.
Engage with Local Schools: Reach out to local schools, whether they are elementary, middle, high school, or technical colleges. Deliver presentations on the advantages of a career in manufacturing, highlighting earning opportunities, advancement prospects, and more. Foster enthusiasm among students.
Employee Appreciation: Celebrate your dedicated workforce. Show your gratitude by providing donuts, a pizza lunch, or a cookout for your employees. Express your thanks through cards, gift cards, or small tokens that convey your appreciation.
Social Media Acknowledgment: Share your appreciation on social media. Celebrate the manufacturing industry and your workforce with a heartfelt message of gratitude for their daily contributions that drive American manufacturing forward.
Attend Manufacturing Tours: Attend manufacturing tours in your local area, whether in-person or virtual. These tours provide a valuable glimpse into the world of manufacturing.
Job Exploration: Approach your employer and inquire about participating in Manufacturing Day activities. Explore different areas of your workplace and spend the day learning about roles you may not have encountered before.
Educational Videos: Watch informative “How It Works” videos related to manufacturing processes. Share your favorite videos with friends and colleagues to spread awareness.
Engage the Next Generation: If you have children in your life, engage in meaningful conversations about manufacturing while enjoying ice cream. Show them videos and emphasize that it offers a viable career path with substantial earning potential and room for growth.
There are numerous ways to celebrate Manufacturing Day, and the ones mentioned here are just a few examples. As you celebrate the manufacturing industry, its dedicated professionals, and those working tirelessly to drive it forward, remember that you can promote and celebrate it not only on one designated day but throughout the entire year!
Tis the season for snow! With that, we thought we’d make our monthly installment of the How It’s Made article about snow. There are two types: natural and man-made. We’ll outline both below.
The Earth’s atmosphere is filled with water and water droplets. At times, these droplets will combine with dust, bacteria and other items floating in the air. When temperatures in the atmosphere drop to very cold levels, the water/dust/bacteria-combined droplets freeze and become tiny ice crystals. A snowflake is created when 2-200 of these ice crystals bond together. With the help of gravity snowflakes fall from the clouds to the ground, a distance of nearly 20,000 feet and a journey that lasts approximately an hour!
When I say man-made snow, I’m talking about the snow you see at ski resorts. To ensure their success on a seasonal basis resorts must create their own snow. This snow is denser than natural snow and doesn’t melt as soon as when packed down on the trails and hills. So, how do they make it?
Snow Guns or Fan Guns
Power Connections and Power Pedestals
Water Connections Snowmakers
Snow guns and fan guns are the large pieces of equipment that blow the manufactured snow onto the mountains. You can find these on top of poles and at ground level. Although the two types of guns perform the same task, they operate differently.
Fan guns require the use of electricity and power connections. As a result, an electrical distribution system is created through the use of power pedestals (electrical boxes) and power cords.
Snow guns do not utilize electricity. Rather, this type of gun operates through the use of compressed air. Air compressors create the power that propels the snow out of the guns.
Regardless of gun type, both types require water. Water connections consist of what is essentially a large fire hose that can withstand a high level of water pressure (PSI) in addition to many miles of water pipeline underground and hydrants at each fan gun hookup.
Finally, snowmakers! Yes – you can create a career (at least seasonally) by being a snowmaker. These workers evaluate weather conditions first and foremost. Then, based upon weather conditions, they manipulate, coordinate and control the operations of the making systems. This happens by creating the “just right” mix of water, temperature, and air. These mixes vary on each hill, as well, helping to create the various difficulty levels of each ski run.
Check out the video below to learn how the experts do it.
Other Key Components
Snowmaking ponds (water sources)
High-powered turbine pumps (for pushing water throughout the systems)
Air coolers (cooling the compressed air)
Computers (for monitoring and adjusting the making process)
Weather stations (sending weather and humidity to the computer)
Groomers (for compacting and grooming to ideal conditions)
With all that said, I can’t say I’m signing up to be a snowmaker anytime soon but I might try to be a snowflake maker. Below are links that will bring you to templates and instructions for making paper snowflakes. Try it if you’re ever stuck inside on a snow day!
Winter and winter driving. We all have a little bit of a love/hate relationship with it. The movies make it look like a magical time while our experiences often say otherwise: roads with no lanes, snow-covered stop signs, black ice, a dead car battery, or accidents. It’s even worse if you’re a first-timer to wintry weather and driving conditions. As a result, we’ve compiled a list of must-dos for winter weather and winter driving.
Pack a Roadside Emergency Kit
Include the following items:
Flares, reflective material, or reflectors
Kitty litter/salt/sand for traction or ice melt
A flash light (and extra batteries)
A small snow shovel
A first-aid kit
Pack a Personal Emergency Kit
In this kit, you should have:
Food and snacks such as mixed nuts, crackers, or granola bars
A warm blanket
Bottle of water
A portable phone charger
Hat and gloves
Pack an Ice Scraper
Snow Pro Tip: scrapers with long handles, a blade, and a brush are most useful!
Get Your Car Tuned-Up
Whether you do this yourself, or you take it to a mechanic, perform the following checks on your vehicle:
The U.S. Department of Transportation recommends replacing tires when they reach 2/32” depth of tread at the most. If you’re at this or even close to it, consider replacing your tires.
Maintain your tire pressure at the manufacturer recommended PSI.
Refill these if they are low and/or perform a fluid change, if needed.
Inspect your battery. Is there wear and tear or corrosion? Did you have troubles with it last year? It might be time to clean it or get a new one.
Wipers & Wiper Blades:
Check that the wiper blades are in good condition and work well to clear your window. If not, replace them. Snow and ice are harder to clear than rain.
Brakes, Heater, Defroster, Belts, Hoses, Lights:
A general check of these to ensure they are in good condition and working as they should will go a long way to keeping you free of freezing on the side of the road, wondering what in the world is wrong.
Consider Roadside Assistance
Check to see if you already have this through your insurance or secure it through AAA (Triple A). Then put the phone number in your phone to ensure you have easy access to it, if you need it!
Keep the Following Items in Mind:
Plan ahead. Give yourself more time when traveling somewhere. Rushing is hazardous to yourself as well as the others on the road.
Check the weather before you go. Being aware of what you could encounter helps you plan before it happens.
Don’t let your tank go dry. Try to keep at least ½ a tank of gas in your vehicle at all times.
Don’t use cruise control.
Helpful Links for Even More Tips on Winter Driving:
We share new content daily and it will always educate, inform, or entertain you. Whether you’re looking to know more about FlexTrades and how we support manufacturing, understand the reasons why our technicians choose to work with us, learn ways we can help you advocate for the skilled trades, or you just want to see funny memes – we’ve got a blog, video, or post for you!
Check us out the next time you’re idly scrolling. We promise you’ll see what we mean! And, as always, be sure to follow, like, subscribe, and share!
If you ask someone whether they’ve watched Ted Lasso or if they liked it, you’ll likely get different answers. But one thing that’s for sure is that the show emphasized the fact that you don’t have to be a subject matter expert to be a leader. Here are just eight of the many leadership lessons we can learn from Ted Lasso.
Find Others Who Complement Your Skills & Weaknesses
One of the key relationships in the show is that between Coach Lasso and Coach Beard. The two met during their college years when both played on their college (American) football team. Few leaders can “have it all” when it comes to the skills needed to be a good leader. This means finding others who can lead with you, that complement your weaknesses, is critical. In Ted Lasso, Coach Lasso is engaging and amiable with a solid ability to develop others. Meanwhile, Coach Beard is quiet, thoughtful, and fully invested in understanding every aspect of the sport (which Ted did not). Together, they make a coaching combo that checks all the boxes!
Lead With Kindness, Empathy & Compassion
These three things can really bring professional success to an organization as well as personal success for each member of your team. And it’s important not to lose sight of these even when you’re under pressure or facing losses. In fact, that’s when they matter most! Kindness, empathy, and compassion will get you through the hard times.
Be Confident but also Trust Those Around You
This one ties into the last lesson. Be confident in your skills (and your weaknesses), and be confident in the team you have around you. You picked them for a reason, so trust in them.
Be a Goldfish
In one episode, Ted asks a player “you know who the happiest animal in the world is? A goldfish. Why? It’s got a 10-second memory. Be a goldfish.” This direct quote by Coach Lasso reminds us that we are not defined by our mistakes but rather by how we react to our mistakes. Learn from them, adjust, then forget them.
Great Ideas Come from Everyone
Ted sees value in everyone. He knows he doesn’t need to be an expert and that the best way to lead is to lead in conjunction with those around him. This includes (of course) Coach Beard as well as Ted’s “kit man” (equipment manager) Nathan, among many others. Not only does Ted do this as a soccer coach but he does it as the “coach” of himself when he realizes he needs help handling his own depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.
Know Names & Use Them
Early in the pilot episode, Coach Lasso introduces himself to his limo driver with “My name’s Ted. What’s yours?” and then uses the limo drivers name (Ollie) twice during the short drive. Other examples include Coach Lasso using the first names of press members during interviews and also when interacting with fans in public. Knowing the names of others and addressing them by their names shows the utmost level of respect. This makes it a very effective way to build trust and improve working relationships.
Stick Together, Especially in the Tough Times
In season one, episode 10, Ted tells the team, “I promise you, there is something worse out there than being sad. And that is being alone and being said. Ain’t no one in this room alone.” If you’re facing tough times, you’re likely not the only one. But, if you are, it feels a lot better to have someone with you as you face them. Great leaders make sure nobody on their team ever feels alone.
Don’t Take Things Personally
During the show, Ted never pretends to be the subject matter expert when it comes to soccer. In fact, he owns up to not knowing much about soccer both publicly and often. However, it was for just that reason that he was judged negatively by the press, public, and fans frequently during the entire show. Despite that scrutiny, Ted kept going. Although he knew he was the topic of the criticism, he also knew he wasn’t the source. Instead of responding to negativity with more negativity Ted stayed true to himself, let it roll off his back, and kept going. Eventually, this is exactly what led him to the success nobody else saw coming.
Ted has a lot of teaching moments as a leader and a lot of quotes that help teach. But he’s also got some great quotes overall. Here’s a few to laugh along with because another big lesson he can teach us is that humor can do a lot for a leader.
Ted Lasso Quotes
“I feel like we fell out of the lucky tree and hit every branch on the way down, ended up in a pool of cash and Sour Patch Kids.”
“If that’s a joke, I love it. If not, can’t wait to unpack that with you later.”
“I always thought tea was going to taste like hot brown water. And do you know what? I was right.”
“As the man once said, the harder you work, the luckier you get.”
“It’s kind of like back in the ’80s when ‘bad’ meant ‘good.'”
“I believe in Communism. Rom-communism, that is. If Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan can go through some heartfelt struggles and still end up happy, then so can we.”
“Little tip for y’all. Fries are called chips. Chips are called crisps. And bangers aren’t great songs, but they do make you feel like dancing because they’re so darn tasty.”
It’s the heart of summer now and that means many things – shorts and t-shirts, barbecuing and grilling, backyard pools or trips to the beach and, in non-COVID-19 times, professional baseball games. It also means celebrating Independence Day by setting off large explosives in the sky (a.k.a. fireworks). That got us thinking – how are fireworks made? And that, of course, brought us to this month’s How It’s Made article.
Before we get to the specifics, I want to point out that fireworks can be placed in three general categories:
Sparklers are hand-held fireworks, fountains are ground-based fireworks, and aerial shells are the large ones that you see exploding in the sky. You can break these categories down even further but, for the sake of this article, we’ll leave it at these three types. Regardless of the type, each firework contains key elements in various levels or combinations.
Those key elements can be seen in the image below which can be found at Compoundchem.com. Key elements of fireworks include:
Metal Compound Pellets (or Stars) – These produce the colors you see when fireworks are lit.
Fuel/Bursting Charge – This creates the burn/blast of the firework.
Oxidizers – In combination with the fuel, this produces the blast.
Binders – Required to hold the mix of elements within the firework.
Chlorine Donors – These are used to deepen the effects of certain colors.
As I mentioned, different combinations and different levels of these elements are used depending upon the type of firework and intended effect of the firework.
With all that said, let’s get to it.
Below are short summaries of the way in which each of the three types of fireworks are made. As we move through the categories, each type gets a little more complex in nature and the way in which they are built.
These slow burning wands of sparkles are made of a metal compound (depending upon color), black powder/gun powder (fuel/bursting charge), and a binder. When these elements are mixed with water, a slurry is created. Once the slurry has been concocted, the wand is dipped in the slurry then dried. This is the end of the wand that, when lit, emits the sparkles. When the fuse is lit, the powder ignites. This, in response, pushes the metal compounds out, creating the sparks.
Fun fact: The end of the wand can reach temperatures upwards of 2900° Fahrenheit!
Fountain fireworks are a bit more exciting than sparklers and, as a result, have more elements as well. Fountains consist of the following parts:
Tube (made of paper or plastic)
Clay Plug and Choke
Metal Compound and Fuel
Fuse & Protective Paper
For these, imagine a rocket. A mixture of the metal compounds and fuel are placed into a tube (the rocket), which sits on a base. The mixture is, of course, based upon the desired effect. Also, inside the tube is a clay plug at the bottom and a clay choke at the top. A fuse is placed through the clay choke at the top and then wrapped in protective paper. When lit, the flame travels down the fuse into the tube (the bottom of the rocket) to ignite the metal compounds and fuel which creates the display and sparks. Note: due to the nature of this setup, it does not “launch” the firework.
Bigger doesn’t always mean better but, in the case of fireworks, it usually does. Aerial shells are the largest in size when it comes to firework types. As a result, aerial shells are slightly more complex than the others in build.
It’s important to remember that, unlike other fireworks, there are two bursts that happen in aerial shells:
The lifting charge – to lift the shell into the air
The bursting charge – creating the burst of color and sound
To generalize the makeup of aerial shells, consider that of the fountain firework as aerial shells are similar. Where the differences lie is in the number of fuses, the purpose of the fuses, the number of chambers, and the design patterns.
Aerial shells have two fuses: the time-delay fuse and the fast fuse. It might not sound like it but each fuse takes the same amount of time to ignite. The difference between the two is that the timed fuse ignites the charge/cache of powder that launches the shell. After launch, this fuse continues to burn until it reaches the fast fuse. The length and burn time of the time-delay fuse is calculated very carefully to ensure that the shell is at the appropriate altitude for full ignition. When the fast fuse is lit, it ignites the metal compounds and sets the burst into the sky.
It might seem simple enough but, to add to the effects and complexity, multiple chambers of gun/black powder will be built into the shell. These chambers go off at different times creating the many effects of light, color, or sound. Additionally, the explosive shells/stars can be strategically placed inside the tube in a desired shape (say a flower) to then explode in the sky in that same shape (a flower).
Now, if all that sparked (see what I did there?) more curiosity in you, I’ve linked some great articles below for you to check out:
Keep in mind on this last one: your typical 20-minute show, set to music, can cost upwards of $40,000. Also, they’ll often put this show on twice in one day!
Must Watch Before You Go
When faced with a backlog or high demand, manufacturers across the United States utilize FlexTrades’ skilled technicians for any and all of their production operations, but it doesn’t stop there. FlexTrades also employs highly-skilled engineers who help our customers meet a wide variety of goals. In fact, project-based engineering is not a trend. It’s becoming increasingly more common in manufacturing.
Here’s Why You Should Consider FlexTrades’ Engineers:
Utilizing project-based engineers allows manufacturers to stay agile.
Many companies are running leaner than they were due to recent events, the current market and economy. Additionally, top talent (in this case – engineers) in this candidate-driven market are looking for more meaning in their work and also more flexibility.
By enlisting the help of project-based engineers, and working with FlexTrades to do so, the skills and experience of the engineer can be tailored to fit a manufacturer’s needs right now rather than hiring a full-time employee with a more generalized set of skills.
Project-based engineers allow full-time engineers to stay focused on long-term goals and objectives.
Utilizing project-based engineers is a great option when trying to align with the up-and-down lifecycle of engineering in a manufacturing facility.
Project-based engineers provide a fresh perspective by coming in with a different background than full-time engineers.
Are you a manufacturer who needs to update your work instructions, blueprints, and SOPs?
Maybe you’re experiencing a downturn in the quality of your products, and you need someone to analyze the cause, determine a solution, then implement?
Perhaps you need to reverse engineer older products so you can create updated prints?
Or maybe you’re looking to design and produce new products and needing someone to determine the feasibility of production.
And, if you’re not a manufacturer but you’re an engineer who would like to travel, learn new things, and bring your expertise to manufacturers who really need it, contact a FlexTrades recruiter today to learn more.