Ask someone what they know about farming, and you may get outdated answers. Many people will talk of the infamous red barn, maybe some cows roaming the fields, or a straw hat. But, in reality, farming is far from outdated. In fact, farming is often one of the first industries to adopt new designs, technologies, and practices. And there’s no clearer way to see it than when you consider the design and evolution of farm and field equipment.

The earliest known farm implements date back as far as 5500 BC. In fact, the first plow is considered to be the “forked” sticks dragged through dirt in the region of southern Mesopotamia (now south-central Iraq). These sticks created the trenches in which seeds would be planted. As history shows, with increased technology and resources comes change and farming equipment changed greatly from these first “plows.”

18th Century

This century was really the time in which farming machinery became more mechanized. Wood was still a major material for farming equipment, but cast-iron metal was making gains as well. Although the first patent for the cast iron plow wasn’t issued until 1797 to Charles Newbold, it was during the 18th century when the use of cast iron as a material really took off. This century also saw the invention of replacement parts, saving farmers time and money by allowing them to repair and replace their machinery more easily, rather than having to buy new.

19th Century

Farm equipment and farm equipment technology really made great leaps starting in the 19th century. It was during this century that agricultural equipment turned away from horses and oxen as power sources and toward steam power. Then, at the end of the 19th century, steam power was replaced with combustion engines (using kerosene or gasoline) which weighed less, required less human interaction, and were also more efficient in general. That was just the beginning.

20th Century

During these years (1901-2000), we saw additional changes in farming equipment that really set the tone for what was to happen next. Diesel powered tractors were invented, giving way for more fuel efficiency and longer engine life. Hydraulics were introduced, giving farmers more versality in the ways in which the equipment could operate, move, and control implements. And Power Take Off (PTO) was also introduced which gave farm vehicles the ability to directly power their implements from the engine. Toward the end of the 20th century even more changes came when mechanical components were being replaced with electrical systems and devices. This laid the foundation for what would come next.

21st Century

This century has seen huge gains in the technology used in tractors. GPS was introduced, sensors were added everywhere, vision systems became available, and smart farming was born along with autonomous tractors. GPS is the backbone of autonomous tractors because it uses real-time location data to guide the tractor within defined parameters. Sensors detect changes on the ground, like soil conditions, and in the environment, like weather or plant health. They also provide critical information regarding the overall operational health of the tractor, allowing farmers to address maintenance issues before they’re too big to handle in the field. Lastly, although autonomous tractors guide themselves, we still need the farmer to monitor the operations, and 360-degree vision cameras are just the tool to do so.

22nd Century

Where and what farming equipment will be in the future is hard to predict but can be done with a little creativity and consideration for history. Farming equipment has really followed the trends from Industry 1.0 to 4.0 and with the prediction for Industry 5.0 to focus on societal values and wellbeing over economic values and welfare, we’ll likely see some changes in this realm. Meaning we’ll likely continue to see machinery and humans collaborating for the wellbeing of all while also squaring in on eco-friendly practices and reducing environmental impacts.

Of course, these are summaries of changes in the agricultural industry as a whole. That includes all types of operable equipment as well as the implements and other tech used in farming. But one piece of equipment stands out no matter what type of farming is being done. That’s the tractor. It’s synonymous with farming and agriculture. So, for some fun, below is a timeline of some of the biggest moments in the birth and life of what we call the tractor.

1892: A 43-year Iowa man named John Froelich is accredited with inventing the first successful gasoline-powered engine. The engine could be “driven” backwards and forwards so although it wasn’t called a tractor at the time, it essentially was the first tractor ever invented. John and others attempted to manufacture and sell this tractor (out of Waterloo, Iowa) without much traction so production turned to stationary engines only and John moved on.

1901: Two mechanical engineering students at the University of Wisconsin (Charles Hart and Charles Parr), founded the Hart-Parr Gasoline Engine Company in Madison, Wisconsin. They produced traction engines which coined the term “tractor”, and the first commercially successful tractor rolled off their assembly lines in 1901, kicking off the 20th century and so much more in tractor technology.

1902: This was a big year for farm tractors and agricultural machines as a whole. It was this year that five agricultural equipment manufacturers merged to form International Harvester. And, in 1905, International Harvester manufacturers its first tractor.

1904: Benjamin Holt develops the first crawler tractor, out of California. The change with this tractor is that rather than wheels, it was equipped with tracks. They named this tractor the “Caterpillar” which would also be the name by which his company was named!

1920: Massey Harris purchases Wallis Tractors to create the first four-wheel drive tractor. Fun fact – Wallis Tractors was founded by Henry Wallis who was actually the son-in-law of Jerome Case, the founder of the Case Corporation, a major player in ag equipment manufacturing.

1923: John Deere produces their legendary Model “D” Tractor, one they produced for nearly 30 years. During this same year, the International Harvester Farmall tractor was produced, another legendary tractor because its rear wheels were set further apart while the front wheels were narrow.

1928: SAME, an Italian tractor manufacturer secures credit for producing the first diesel powered tractor. Two short years later in 1930, it can be said that 15% of farmers are using tractors on their farm operations.

1931: Caterpillar manufactures their first diesel-powered track-type tractor.

1932: Allis-Chalmers (a company first formed in 1901), collaborates with Firestone to introduce pneumatic rubber tires to tractors, changing the tractor game as it relates to traction and fuel economy. Within five short years, these tires replaced the majority of steel wheels used up until this time.

1935: International Harvester combines diesel engines and wheeled tractors into one.

1941: Minneapolis-Moline introduces the world’s first factory-produced LPG (liquified petroleum gas) tractor, claiming 10% more power but fewer operating costs.

1954: Tractors officially outnumber horses and mules on farms.

1958: Minnesota farmers John Steiger and sons designed and built a tractor in their own barn and painted it lime green. Soon after they were officially in business by 1963 and had developed the very first tractor with a rear PTO option on articulated four-wheel drive tractors. They even pioneered electronic control systems for tractors, as well. After 32 years in business, Tenneco (parent company of Case International Harvester) purchased the Steiger brand.

1959: Allis-Chalmers creates technology for electric fuel cells. Although it didn’t take off in tractors, it can be considered technology that gave NASA the ability to “put a man on the moon”.

1960: Case creates the first tractor cab. Later, in 1963, Steiger introduces the first 4WD tractor with an enclosed cab. Enclosed cabs became a very popular addition to tractors in the next few years.

1961: Allis-Chalmers introduces their D-19 tractor, the first mass-produced tractor with a turbocharged diesel engine.

1966: Versatile is the first to mass-produce 4WD tractors and are able to price them out at a rate similar to the cost of smaller 2WD tractors that are currently being sold.

1969: Kubota Corp. introduces it’s very first tractor in the United States with instant success. Kubota Tractor Corp. is formed in 1972 to expand its presence in the market.

1973: Allis-Chalmers designs and manufacturers load-sensitive hydraulics for two of its tractor designs.

1985: Case and International Harvester merge to form Case IH.

1986: Massey Ferguson introduces the very first electronic lift control 3-point hitch, and it comes standard on all of their tractors. This technology gives farmers much more control over height, rate of drop, and depth (as well as speed) for implements and attachments.

1987: Caterpillar manufacturers tractors with rubber tracks, greatly reducing soil compaction.

1988: The first tractor engineered by newly combined Case IH is released with 100,000 produced in the first 15 years. What tractor was it? The Magnum tractor.

1990: AGCO is formed after a buyout of Deutz-Allis from KHD, starting the first of many acquisitions, leading AGCO to become the third largest producer of ag equipment worldwide.

1991: This was the year that the world’s first tractor with a full suspension system, and the ability to operate at 35 mph road speeds, came to be with JCB’s Fastrac tractor in Great Britain.

1992: RTK (real-time kinematic) technology debuts this year, one of the most important pieces of technology aiding in agricultural equipment guidance and movement.

1994: GPS and satellite technology is introduced. Case International rebrands to Case IH.

2004: Fendt introduces the Tractor Management System, software that monitors and controls engine speed relative to ground speed.

2010: Case IH manufactures and ships the Magnum series tractor which is the first unit from all manufacturers to meet EPA Tier 4A emissions standard for ag equipment.

2013: CNH Global N.V. and Fiat Industrial S.p.A. merge, making CNH Industrial N.V.

2020: Monarch Tractor showcases the world’s first fully electric smart tractor which is operated on a single electronic platform and with or without a driver. At the same time, Soletrac comes onto the market with a battery-powered tractor specific for orchards and vineyards.

2022: John Deere lets the world know that they have a fully autonomous tractor ready for production.

2023: New Holland is the first of the major ag OEMs to introduce an all-electric-powered tractor.

As we look back over the centuries, it’s clear that the fields of agriculture have always been a fertile ground for innovation. From the rudimentary stick plows of ancient Mesopotamia to the high-tech autonomous tractors of today, farming equipment has undergone a remarkable transformation. Each advancement reflects not only technological progress but also a deeper understanding of efficiency, sustainability, and the needs of both the land and those who work it.

As we venture into the future, with a vision sharpened by Industry 5.0 and its focus on societal values, the next chapters of agricultural innovation will likely be even more transformative. The ongoing evolution from mechanical beasts of burden to intelligent companions in the field highlights a pivotal shift in our relationship with technology and nature. These tools, once simple extensions of human effort, are now partners in a dance of productivity and stewardship.

In embracing these changes, we not only continue the legacy of innovation that defines human progress but also ensure that the future of farming—and by extension, our world—is as fruitful as the fields our forebears once tended. Let’s continue to watch, learn, and grow as the next generation of tractors and beyond redefine what it means to work the land.

FlexTrades might be considered one of the top travel agents in the United States based upon all the flights, road trips, and hotels we book and advise on year after year for our technicians. As a result, we know the tips and tricks for making travel easier and cheaper, and we’re sharing that list with you.

Tips & Tricks for Travel

Cheap Flights

  1. Don’t choose a destination, then your travel dates, and then find a flight. Rather, first find low-cost flights (from your departure airport) and then decide the destination that intrigues you the most on the dates that work well.
  2. If the above doesn’t work for you, then book your flights with strategy. There are windows of time that seem to work best depending upon whether your flying domestically or internationally.

  1. It used to be said that there were specific days of the week that were better than others when booking a flight but that’s now considered a myth. However, there are days considered cheaper to fly thanks to business travelers.

Departure Days

  1. Google Flights is considered by many as the best way to find flights and there are best practices for using Google Flights too (find them here). But it’s not necessarily the best way to book flights. Always try to book flights directly with the airline.
  2. Finally, if you’re not against credit cards, using an airline credit card can score you additional dollar savings with perks like free checked luggage or complimentary Wi-Fi in addition to lower cost or free flights if you secure enough points or miles.

Cheap Road Trips 

  1. First and foremost, if you’re driving by car, try not to travel on peak traffic days or during peak traffic hours. Peak traffic days like holidays (or even weekends) often bring higher fuel costs (and lodgings costs).
  2. Gas can be one of the biggest costs when traveling by car, but it can also be the easiest way to save money. Google Maps will not only help you plan your route, but you can also view all the gas stations along the way and their current fuel price.


  1. If that’s not your thing, consider a fuel rewards app like Gas Buddy, which helps you not only save money but also earn rewards. And, if it’s helpful, Gas Buddy will calculate an estimate of the cost of fuel for the entire ride, too.
  2. Focus on fuel efficiency. You can do this by driving at the speed at which your vehicle gets the greatest fuel economy (typically around 55 mpg) or by getting a tune up on your vehicle prior to travel.
  3. Whether you have a personal vehicle or not, public transportation is a great alternative to traveling in your car. Whether you do it for your entire trip (Amtrak here we come!) or you do it once you’re at your final destination, you’ll likely find costs are lower than they would be with a vehicle. Public transportation avoids parking fees, fuel costs, and wear & tear on your vehicle. Another plus to public transportation? Seeing everything that’s around you as a passenger, rather than a driver.
  4. Last but not least, save money on food. Here’s some tips and tricks on how to not only eat within budget but also eat well while road tripping.

Cheap Lodging

No matter what type of lodging you prefer, you can always find a good deal on it. There is no need to sleep in your car to save money or blow your budget somewhere to lay your head.  Below are some options to stay within budget but remember, it’s not just about budget it’s also about traveling safely and securely.

  1. Hotels are, of course, great places to stay. Here’s some tips & tricks for finding hotels within your budget and remember to use these best practices when booking a hotel. And don’t forget to earn rewards with hotel chains by signing up for their loyalty programs.
  2. Airbnb or VRBO
    • Some may say these aren’t cost efficient but if you’re real about what you need vs. don’t need and/or where you stay, you can find some budget friendly options!
  3. Hospitality Exchanges
    • This “exchange” allows a traveler to stay in the home of a local either for free or very minimal reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses. As someone using this option, you too, must be willing to host when others need a place to stay.
    • Couch Surfing
    • BeWelcome
  4. Hostels
    • Just like any other lodging, hostels vary in terms of cleanliness, available amenities, and quality. However, they can still be a very budget-friendly lodging option.
  5. Home Exchange
    • Is a great place for this. Additionally, with websites like,, and, you can match with homeowners who need house sitters. For watching over their home, pets, and minor cleaning, you can secure a free place to stay at your intended destination.
  6. Stay on a Farm or at a Monastery
    • Staying at a farm or monastery is definitely a unique approach to lodging but it’s one type of lodging that allows for a lot of learning!

The proof is in the pudding. You don’t have to save money for years on end to travel, rather you can save money while traveling and still get the adventure you’re looking for!

As we navigate through 2024, there’s still ample opportunity to immerse yourself in the wealth of knowledge, technological advancements and unparalleled value that this year’s manufacturing trade shows and expos have to offer. From employers to employees, these events are a goldmine for anyone looking to elevate their presence in the US manufacturing scene.

The Top Manufacturing Trade Shows of 2024


Scheduled for March 11-14 in Atlanta, GA, Modex stands out among 2024’s top manufacturing trade shows. While Promat has already passed and won’t return until 2025, Modex continues to shine, thanks to MHI (The Material Handling Industry). It’s a pivotal gathering for supply chain professionals seeking to network and grow.

Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo 2024

This supply chain expo, happening May 6-8, delves into lessons learned from the pandemic and strategies for long-term success in supply chain management. It’s a must-attend for those in procurement, manufacturing management and logistics.


Mark your calendars for May 6-9 in Chicago for Automate, the automation event of the year. Covering the spectrum of automation in manufacturing sectors, it’s one of the key automation events for industry professionals.


The largest plastics tradeshow in America takes over Orlando, FL, from May 6-10. NPE is an expansive event that showcases the latest in plastics technology and innovation.

Skills USA National Leadership & Skills Conference

Focusing on promoting technical and trade careers, the Skills USA National Leadership & Skills Conference, happening June 24-28, is a unique blend of skill-building and leadership development.


For those interested in additive manufacturing conferences, RAPID + TCT in Los Angeles from June 25-27 is the place to be. It’s a deep dive into how 3D printing technologies can revolutionize manufacturing processes.

Safety Conference & Expo

Set for August 7-9 in Denver, CO, the Safety Conference & Expo is organized by the ASSP and focuses on educational sessions and innovations in workplace safety.

Advanced Manufacturing Expo

Don’t miss out on this Industry 4.0 expo in Grand Rapids, MI, on August 7-8. It’s an excellent opportunity to explore advancements in automation and metalworking.


For professionals in metal forming, fabricating, welding, and finishing, FABTECH is the premier event, running from October 15-17.

Association of Equipment Manufacturers

This Association of Equipment Manufacturers event, happening on November 13-15, is perfect for executives looking to gain industry insights on workforce development, data management and leadership.


In Santa Clara, CA, from November 20-21, the BIOMEDevice event bridges Med Tech, Biotech, and Pharma, fostering education and partnerships in medical innovation.

Time to Grow

Choosing the right manufacturing trade show can open doors to new industry contacts, knowledge, and opportunities. Dive in, and you’re sure to learn and grow in ways you hadn’t imagined.

Throughout history, the manufacturing landscape has been dramatically reshaped by groundbreaking designs, inventions and products. At the heart of these transformative contributions are the ingenious, hard-working creators and the visionary leaders propelling these innovations forward. As we celebrate Black History Month, it’s an honor to spotlight the remarkable black inventors and leaders whose ingenuity has left an indelible mark on manufacturing.

charles richard patterson

Charles Richard Patterson (1833 – 1910) was a trailblazer as the founder of C.R. Patterson & Sons, the first and only African American owned and operated automobile company, which began as a humble carriage-making enterprise.

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Elijah J. McCoy (1844 – 1929) revolutionized railway maintenance with his invention of an automatic lubricator for oiling steam engine parts, giving birth to the expression “The Real McCoy” for his unmatched quality.

Lewis Howard Latimer

Lewis Howard Latimer (1848 – 1928) was instrumental in the development of electric light, inventing the carbon filament for incandescent bulbs in 1881 and playing a pivotal role in the urban installation of electric lighting. His contributions extended to assisting in the patenting of the telephone and inventing the first railroad car bathroom and an early version of air conditioning.

Jan Ernst Matzeliger

Jan Ernst Matzeliger (1852 – 1889) significantly impacted the shoemaking industry with his shoe lasting machine, which dramatically increased production efficiency by automating the attachment of soles to uppers.

George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver (1864 – 1943) is renowned for his agricultural innovations, developing techniques to rejuvenate soils depleted by cotton and promoting crop rotation methods alongside pioneering industrial applications for alternative crops.

Madame C.J. Walker

Madame C.J. Walker (1867 – 1919), after developing a unique line of African American hair products to address her own hair loss, established Madame C.J. Walker Laboratories, becoming one of the first self-made millionaire women in America.

Charles W. “C.W.” Chapelle

Charles W. “C.W.” Chapelle (1872 – 1941), the first head electrician of US Steel and an aviation enthusiast, made history with his award-winning airplane design at the 1911 First Industrial Airplane Show and played a key role in founding the first African American airplane company.

Frederick McKinley Jones

Frederick McKinley Jones (1893 – 1961) is celebrated for inventing the first automatic refrigeration system for long-haul trucks and railroad cars, revolutionizing the transport of perishable goods and laying the foundation for Thermo-King Corp.

Otis Frank Boykin (1)

Otis Frank Boykin (1920 – 1982) made significant advancements in electrical resistor technology used in a myriad of electronic devices, alongside inventing a chemical air filter and a burglar-proof cash register.

Craig Arnold

Craig Arnold (1951 – ), as the CEO of Eaton Corporation, emphasizes diversity, equality, and innovation within the manufacturing sector and corporate leadership.

Marian Rogers Croak

Marian Rogers Croak (1955 – ) has transformed communication with her development of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), a pivotal technology that has reshaped global communication networks.

Mark E. Dean

Mark E. Dean (1957 – ) has been a cornerstone in computer technology, contributing to the invention of the color PC monitor and the gigahertz chip, holding three of IBM’s original nine patents.

Alicia Boler Davis

Alicia Boler Davis (1972 – ) broke new ground as the first black woman to serve as a Plant Manager at General Motors and continues to lead in senior executive roles, currently with Amazon.

Shaping the Future

These individuals are not just inventors and leaders; they are pioneers who have paved the way for future generations, demonstrating that innovation knows no bounds. Their legacies remind us of the power of creativity, perseverance and leadership in driving forward the manufacturing industry and beyond.

Check out the following link to learn more about Black History Month, written by Daryl Michael Scott, a Professor of History at Howard University and the Vice President of Program at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

Want more history? Read our post on Women’s History Month!

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  • Machinery 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
  • Food Manufacturing
  • Nonmetallic Mineral Product Mfg.
  • Textile Mills
  • Textile Product Mills
  • Apparel Mfg.
  • 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.

Manufacturers: Schedule a Call with FlexTrades Now!

Skilled Technicians: Browse Our Jobs and Apply Here! 

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:

  1. Wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  2. Allow yourself ample time to ease into the day, and savor the first 30-60 minutes at a leisurely pace.
  3. Try to wake up before anyone else, creating a tranquil environment for you, your space, and the day ahead.
  4. 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.
  5. Consider meditation or soothing music.
  6. Incorporate some light stretching or engage in a full-blown workout – just something to get your body moving differently.
  7. Dedicate a moment to yourself with a cup of coffee, tea, or even an energy drink, while you read, enjoy nature, or practice mindfulness.
  8. 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.

What is Manufacturing Day?

The inception of Manufacturing Day dates back to 2012 when the Fabricators and Manufacturers’ Association (FMA) joined hands with leaders from the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP). The brainchild behind this initiative was Ed Youdell, the President & CEO of FMA. Beginning as a modest concept, they conducted a pilot effort in the Midwest on the first Friday of October in 2012. As the years went by, the success of this day prompted them to collaborate with the National Association of Manufacturing (NAM) in 2016, who took the helm of the initiative. Thanks to NAM’s extensive network through The Manufacturing Institute, the event flourished. In just seven years, it expanded from around 240 events primarily in the Midwest to encompass more than 325,000 students, teachers, and parents participating in over 3,000 events across all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

How Can You Celebrate Manufacturing Day?

For Manufacturers:

  • 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.

For Individuals:

  • 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.
  • Educational Games: Introduce youngsters to educational games like the Manufacturing Institute’s Smart MFG 2 App, where kids can design and manufacture a drone. Additionally, consider playing board games like “The Manufacturing Game.” You can also explore a variety of factory simulation games.

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.

Natural Snow

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!

Man-Made Snow

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?

Key Components

  • Snow Guns or Fan Guns
  • Power Connections and Power Pedestals
  • Air Compressors
  • 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:

  • Jumper cables
  • 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:

  • Extra medication
  • Food and snacks such as mixed nuts, crackers, or granola bars
  • A warm blanket
  • Bottle of water
  • A portable phone charger
  • Hat and gloves
  • Hand warmers

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:

Tire Tread:

  • 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.

Tire Pressure:

  • Maintain your tire pressure at the manufacturer recommended PSI.

Vehicle Fluids: Oil, Antifreeze/Coolant, Windshield Wiper Fluid:

  • 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: