Recently, FlexTrades was recognized with a ‘Risk Control Award of Merit.’ Companies receiving this recognition account for only the top 25% of all businesses considered. Grading was applied for critical statistics such as loss frequency, and loss severity, in addition to proactive measures taken by participants to reduce risks within facilities and maintain the safety of all employees.
FlexTrades is honored by this recognition and proud of the way it reflects on how our company constantly champions a safety-first culture in manufacturing. This unwavering commitment is integral to our efforts to move the line in American manufacturing while being amazing partners for our employees and clients every day.
“I’m incredibly proud of our team for receiving this recognition and continuing to move the line by providing as safe of a workplace as possible for our technicians. This could not have been achieved without the efforts of all of our different operational teams, led by our safety team, to establish best practices for screening, training, communicating and managing safety risks and expectations,” said Amy Grussing, FlexTrades’ CEO. “I hope this award helps demonstrates to our clients, prospective clients and the industry at large our commitment to bringing the highest level of safety to their work sites and our partnerships.”
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!
In the world of manufacturing, where precision and expertise are the bedrock of success, having the right skilled tradespeople on your team can make all the difference. But what happens when you’re facing a shortage of these essential workers and your production demands are soaring? This is where FlexTrades steps in to save the day.
The Skilled Workforce Dilemma
Manufacturing companies across the United States are grappling with a common challenge, a shortage of skilled tradespeople. The demand for expert welders, machinists, electricians and other specialized professionals continues to grow while the supply struggles to keep pace. This shortage can lead to production delays, increased labor costs and missed opportunities.
The FlexTrades Advantage
FlexTrades is your strategic partner in overcoming the skilled labor shortage. We understand the unique needs of manufacturing companies, and we specialize in connecting you with the skilled workforce you need, precisely when you need it. Here’s why FlexTrades is the solution you’ve been searching for:
Immediate Access to Talent: Say goodbye to long hiring processes and waiting for the right candidate. FlexTrades has a vast network of skilled tradespeople ready to step into your production process, keeping your projects on track.
Expertise Across Industries: Whether you’re in aerospace, automotive, construction materials or any other manufacturing sector, FlexTrades has a diverse pool of professionals, ready to deploy, with expertise spanning various industries.
Cost-Effective Solutions: With FlexTrades, you only pay for the skilled labor you use when you need it. This means reduced overhead costs and improved cost management.
Flexibility and Scalability: Our manufacturing workforce solutions are adaptable to your changing needs. Whether it’s a short-term project or long-term partnership, FlexTrades can scale to meet your demands.
Quality Assurance: We take pride in our commitment to quality. All of our tradespeople are rigorously vetted and come with the experience and skills required to excel in their roles.
Your Path to Seamless Production
At FlexTrades, we’re not just about providing skilled talent, we’re about ensuring that your production process remains seamless and efficient. By partnering with us, you’re not just filling gaps in your workforce, you’re gaining a competitive edge in the manufacturing industry.
Take Action Today
The skilled labor shortage is a challenge, but it doesn’t have to hold your company back. FlexTrades is your strategic ally in meeting your production demands and achieving your business goals. Don’t wait until the shortage impacts your bottom line even more. Contact us today and discover how FlexTrades can transform your manufacturing operations.
Your Trusted Partner
In a manufacturing landscape defined by precision, timing and expertise, FlexTrades is the partner you can rely on to navigate the skilled labor shortage successfully. With immediate access to top-tier talent, industry expertise, cost-effective solutions and unmatched flexibility, FlexTrades empowers your company to thrive in any market conditions.
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!
The winter season up north may conjure images of icy roads and cold temperatures, but for FlexTrades’ Technicians, it presents a unique set of advantages. These advantages stem from the increased demand for winter-related products and the specialized skills required to meet the needs of the season. In this article, we’ll explore why FlexTrades Technicians should consider going on assignment up north during the winter months.
Increased Demand for Winter Products
Winter brings a surge in demand for items such as snowmobiles, winter clothing, and heating equipment. Manufacturing facilities up north ramp up production to meet this demand, creating numerous opportunities for FlexTrades Technicians.
Seasonal Spikes & Overtime Pay
Orders and demand tend to spike during the winter months for many manufacturing employers in northern regions. Generally, these spikes result in increased opportunities to work overtime hours (at increased payrates). This can substantially boost your per-project income, making it an economically advantageous choice for FlexTrades Technicians.
Industries like agriculture or tourism often experience significant seasonal variation, but the manufacturing sector in northern regions tends to maintain more stable employment throughout the year. FlexTrades Technicians can rely on manufacturing jobs as a consistent source of income during the winter months.
Comfortable Indoor Facilities
Modern manufacturing facilities up north are equipped with well-insulated and heated indoor environments. This means that FlexTrades Technicians can work comfortably and safely, even in harsh winter conditions.
Winter manufacturing jobs often require specialized skills, such as working with cold-weather materials or winterizing products. FlexTrades Technicians can gain valuable experience and expertise in these areas, thus enhancing their skillset and gearing them up for future projects.
Working up north during the winter season provides FlexTrades Technicians with opportunities to connect with industry professionals specializing in cold-weather manufacturing. These connections can be valuable for future projects and collaborations.
Adventure & Exploration
For those who enjoy winter sports and outdoor activities, working up north during the winter can be an opportunity to explore and experience the region’s unique winter culture and recreational opportunities during downtime.
FlexTrades Technicians who embrace the challenges of working up north during the winter can develop valuable personal attributes such as resilience, adaptability, and the ability to thrive in diverse environments. These skills can be beneficial for both personal and professional growth.
The combination of higher pay rates, bonuses, and the potential for year-round employment can provide FlexTrades Technicians with financial security. This stability allows them to save, invest, or plan for their future with confidence.
The winter season up north offers FlexTrades Technicians a range of advantages, from increased income and job stability to skill development and personal growth. While it’s important to consider personal preferences and family commitments, working up north during the winter can be a rewarding choice for those seeking unique career opportunities and experiences in the world of manufacturing.
Our clients find us, and we find them the skilled technicians they need to support their in-house talent. But where can you find FlexTrades online?
The easy answer is, “Everywhere.” We’re on virtually every social media platform you can think of, so here’s a handy guide to help you catch us on your platform of choice.
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!
The year is almost halfway done, but there is still time to take advantage of the knowledge, technology, and value that manufacturing trade shows and expos bring to US manufacturing for both employers and employees.
Design-2-Part has many shows throughout the year (in spring and fall) and across the US, so find one near you! The greatest thing about Design-2-Part is the story behind Founder, Ben Edwards and how he began Design-2-Part shows.
Start planning now because this one is happening in Denver, CO August 7-9th in 2024. In fact, 2024 will be the 63rd annual show! Put on by the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), the goal of this show is to bring together safety professionals for three days of educational sessions. There also are educational exhibits regarding the safety profession as well as safety innovation in the workplace. It’s called “the conference that’s by safety professionals, for safety professionals”.
Happening August 9 and 10, 2023, in Grand Rapids, MI, you could join 3000 manufacturers and manufacturing experts to explore all things automation, metalworking, or mechanical. If there is one to go to in 2023, this might be it!
PACK Expo is a show with multiple events across the United States (as well as the world). At these shows, it’s all about packaging and processing solutions. Join Pack Expo Las Vegas from September 11th through the 13th this year!
During this two-day FREE expo, you’ll find a multitude of suppliers with expertise in molding machines and auxiliary equipment, equipment parts, molds and runners, design & molding software, and many other support services. Get to Novi, MI to experience this event on September 20 and 21 of 2023.
Coming to Indianapolis during the fall of 2023 (October 10-12), are the big thinkers thinking about IIoT, 5G, cobots, and other Industry 4.0 technology as it relates to all types of manufacturing industries. You’ll find a little bit of everything related to automation, robotics, industrial data, AI, supply chain software, IIoT, as well as smart infrastructure.
From October 17-19, top manufacturers and businesses from the aviation industry will come together in Las Vegas to showcase the best of the best in aviation technology and aircraft.
Southtec / Westtec
Southtec is one of four Manufacturing Technology Series events and it’s happening in Greenville, SC from October 24-26th. Westec is another one of the four series events only it’s happening in Long Beach, CA from November 7-9, 2023. Houstex and Eastec have already come and gone in 2023 but don’t worry, all four will be back in full for 2024 because this one is backed by some of the biggest industry advocates, The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) and
We just missed this one for 2023 (it was April 18-20th) but they are already planning for 2025 (in Cleveland, OH) and so should you. This is the place to be when it comes to precision machining and precision machined components.
Skills USA is a great event with a different goal than most manufacturing expos. This one is about bringing together workers, leaders, students, and teachers to promote careers in trade and technical occupations. This one wrapped up June 23rd of this year, but they’ll be back again next year!
With over 1 million square feet of exhibit space, this expo is the largest plastics tradeshow in America. Make it a point to register in 2023 for the five-day event happening in Orlando, FL from May 6-10, 2024.
The Modex Show is happening March 11-14 in Atlanta GA next year (2024). Promat is show similar to Modex that has come and gone for 2023. However, both are shows put on by MHI (The Material Handling Industry) with the goal of connecting professionals in the supply chain industry.
That’s a Wrap:
Find one you like and give it a whirl. You’ll likely meet great industry contacts, be able to talk about yourself and your products, as well as learn a little (or a lot) something new!
Every technician has a toolbox, but what do you NEED to have in it? While there’s no “right” answer, here is a list of tools that FlexTrades’ most successful technicians always have in their toolboxes – and some recommendations for the average Joe, too.
Chisels & Punches
Files & Deburring Tools
Drills & Drivers
Cutters & Saws
Grinders & Sanders
Calipers & Micrometers
Indicators & Edge Finders
Markers & Soapstone
Hand Tools for Your Toolbox
Machinists and maintenance technicians need a good set of wrenches, ratchets, and sockets in typical SAE and metric sizes. A good adjustable wrench and a set of Allen wrenches are also must haves. Most also carry a quality torx set because of their prevalence in industrial settings.
Hand drivers may be the toothbrush of tools; rarely appreciated though used every day, but that’s what makes them essential. Every technician prefers a power tool for any job, but sometimes you can’t get power tools where they need to be. A good selection of hand drivers with varied lengths and a multitude of heads (slotted, Philips, square, etc.) can often be a big job saver.
Whether used for holding work pieces, trimming and stripping wires or turning the nut a wrench can’t reach, a technician can never have too many pliers. From slip-joint to locking and needle-nose to linesman’s, make sure this tool is well represented in your bag.
Technician or not, everybody knows about hammers, but those used in manufacturing aren’t your father’s claw hammer. It doesn’t matter if you need to set tooling and fixtures, make repairs, fine adjustments, or just knock something loose. A good collection of specialty hammers such as ball peens, brass, and dead blows will more than pull their weight in the shop.
Sets of up to 1” for chisels and punches can go a long way for working on tooling, fixtures and finished work pieces. Having them may also be the difference between saving the machine, the tool, or your fingers from unnecessary damage in the process.
Files and deburring tools are integral for finish work on parts and features for both machinists and welders. Owning a great set of both is often all that separates a tedious job from an impossible one especially when dealing with fine materials or high tolerance pieces.
Drills and drivers replace hand tools, where appropriate, to save time and physical strain. Recent advancements in battery technology now allow many companies to make great entries in this field. However, regardless of brand, the choice will always be between power and physical profile (smaller drills = smaller, less powerful batteries). Be honest about the work you do most or be prepared to see this collection grow quickly.
Cutters and saws help make faster, more accurate, cuts more often than hand tools. You can choose from corded or cordless varieties, and both have their advantages. The convenience and portability of cordless versions normally win in most scenarios. Remember though, it’s still a battery tool. The same considerations apply to these as mentioned for drills and drivers.
A quality belt sander and an angle grinder, with both cutting and grinding heads, are essential for rough maintenance and fine finish work. It doesn’t matter if you’re a welder, machinist, or maintenance technician – you will have to clean up weld slag or tool chatter at some point. Pro tip, if you need to use either for more than a few minutes at a time, go with the corded version. Cordless sanders and grinders drain batteries quickly!
A quality 0-1” micrometer and a good 6” caliper will take any machinist a long way by accommodating most typical sized work pieces and features. If you need a bigger range for your daily work, then your toolbox is probably already in great shape without this list. Pro tip: Analog dials never have batteries die, but digitals have fewer parts that need cleaning to maintain accuracy over time.
Machinist square or combo square, both will help you start and check your work. You won’t get far without one or the other. When buying, go for sturdy over fancy.
A 6” scale is standard, and I recommend sticking with metal for durability and accuracy. Indicators and edge finders are essential for setting your axis, finding the edge of your part and fine-tuning settings. A scale is often overlooked, but you’re simply not a machinist without it. *Pros can get their measuring tools piece by piece or in a kit to meet all needs, like this one from Insize. But most Joes can get by with just a good tape measure like this classic from Stanley.
Flashlights make it easier to do work when you can see it. Get a few and make sure at least one has a flexible head. Magnetic bases frequently come in handy too.
Don’t use your phone as a calculator – there’s a greater chance you’ll wreck it. A calculator capable of performing trig functions is a must for multi-axis machining.
Being able to read your markings on greasy, oily metal is essential in production environments and being able to remove the markings after is a plus.
This is your most important tool as a technician because it allows you to reference work you’ve done and make sure you can apply that previous knowledge to the current job at hand.
When you go to the job, your tools need to come with you. FlexTrades’ traveling technicians all need a quality toolbox that is portable, adjustable, and lockable. This 22-inch rolling system from Husky is a great option! If you’re wondering what to do with the tools you decide to leave at home, they need to be stored properly as well. We suggest you watch this interview with Stor-Loc, a great American-made option, before deciding on your next tool chest!
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
Every work site has its own requirements for PPE, but they all begin with boots. Steel or composite safety toes are the standard, but built-in internal metatarsal protection boots are becoming more common all the time. Waterproofing, slip resistance, and electrical ratings are other things to consider when buying boots. Something like this pair from Red Wings checks all those boxes.
Hard hats or helmets, safety glasses, and hearing protection are often provided by the employer, but every technician has a favorite that works best for their job. When you find yours, buy two immediately!
Position specific equipment like auto-darkening visors for welders and respirators for painters are also PPE worth considering.
While this list is not definitive, it’s a great start to building your kit. See what your toolbox is lacking and consider adding some missing items.
If your collection already includes everything mentioned above, and you know how to use it, you’re probably ready for a career in the manufacturing industry. Send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you started!
How It’s Made – Plastic
Plastic has been around for much longer than most of us know. In its earliest form (some say as early as 1600 B.C.), plastic was produced by Mesoamericans who harvested latex from the Panama Rubber Tree and processed it with liquid from the Morning Glory Vine. However, the production of plastic (as we now know it) started many years later when Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) was invented during the 1930s. Since then, there have been other types of plastic discovered and invented with each having its own strengths and weaknesses, which ultimately determine the end use.
So, how is it made?
Step 1: Raw Material Extractions
Crude oil and natural gas are extracted (drilled) from the ground then transported to a refinery.
Step 2: Refining
During the refining process, these natural materials are turned into multiple products including ethane and propane (which are the foundation of plastics). The refining process is very similar to how gasoline is made. With the assistance of a high-temperature furnaces, as well as pressure, ethane and propane are broken down into smaller molecules creating ethylene and propylene.
Step 3: Polymerization
In this stage, catalysts (a.k.a. chemicals) are added into the process and bond individual molecules into a polymer. When heated, polymers are incredibly moldable, making them great for plastic products. There are two ways in which this polymerization process can occur, and each way makes its own polymer (or resin), and each resin has its own set of pros and cons (which ultimately determines the end product it’s used in). You can find resin types in the Resin Identification Codes (RICs) on plastic products. Resins include Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE), Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and Polystyrene (PS) among others. PET is the most commonly used plastic in the world.
Step 4: Nurdle Making
You read that right… now it’s on to nurdle making! Nurdles are little plastic pellets made from the resins created in the polymerization process. The process to do so is through melting and cooling operations. Once these lentil-sized pellets are produced, they are shipped from a petrochemical refining facility to manufacturing facilities where they are melted down and formed into a final product.
Step 5: Plastic Forming & Fabrication
Manufacturers compound, mix, and melt the plastic pellets with other ingredients to very specific recipes. When followed, these recipes determine the characteristics and properties of the plastic product. The melted plastic is then formed into shape by plastic forming machinery, which is determined by the application of the product.
Common Machinery Used to Form Rigid Plastic Products Includes:
Rotational (Roto) Molding
If you are a plastics manufacturing company, or someone who has worked in a plastics manufacturing facility, you likely fully understand this process. If not, check out our blog page to see what else we can help you understand better. Regardless of where you rate your plastics knowledge, keep reading because did you know that FlexTrades can help you find the right people for your company and/or the right job for yourself, too, regardless of industry? Check us out online at FlexTrades.com to learn about all that we can do for you.
Manufacturing as an industry has taken some hits over the years, but it’s always proven to be very resilient. Even with the pandemic, the threat of a recession, a retiring (and limited) workforce, as well as supply chain issues, manufacturing came out stronger on the other side of it all. In fact, Deloitte forecasted a 2.5% growth in GDP for 2023. How about that for resilience?
Listed below are four ways manufacturing will stay strong and come out ahead in 2023… and beyond.
5G networks, cyber security, cloud adoption, IOT (the Internet of Things), AI (Artificial Intelligence), AR (Augmented Reality), and VR (Virtual Reality) are all investments that manufacturers are finding value in. The implementation of this technology enhances efficiency and effectiveness across the production floor.
Supply Chain Review:
The pandemic really brought out flaws in supply chain management as it relates to manufacturers. As a result, companies are reassessing their supply chain and looking toward ways to become more supply chain resilient. By diversifying vendors and vendor locations, manufacturers will still experience disruptions but not at the levels witnessed in 2020.
Manufacturers are seeing that implementing smart technology in their production process reduces operating costs while also improving efficiency. And rather than implement it piece-by-piece, manufacturers are adopting the technology system-wide, wherever possible.
Data & Analytics:
Manufacturers are focused on collecting data. Data, when combined with analytics and technology, provides manufacturers with an opportunity to understand their operations more accurately than ever before. This allows them to see actionable insights in real time without high costs and long waits. In fact, this market is forecasted to grow by 16.5% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) between 2019 and 2026.
What It All Means:
So, what does this mean?
In short, it means that skilled trade work isn’t going away. It means skilled trades workers will still be needed because manufacturing will continue to prove its resiliency and, as a result, continue to grow.
Join the FlexTrades team today to experience top notch pay, the opportunity to travel, and the ability to work and learn new skills with some of the greatest manufacturers in the United States. If you’re new(er) to manufacturing, don’t worry – we have that covered too. Join our ReTool team for the opportunity to upskill and train for the dream job you desire. And if you’re a manufacturer yourself, consider FlexTrades as a labor solutions provider.