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What's in a Number?

The January/February issue of Metal Casting Design & Purchasing is one of my favorites of the year because it lays out the statistics of the current industry and looks at what we can expect for the coming years.

The annual World Census of Global Casting Production (p. 22) charts the trends in production and sales of major metalcasting nations, the U.S. census (p. 36) breaks down the types of plants and capabilities at home, and the U.S. metalcasting forecast (p. 27) shares how the industries that use castings might be faring in the future.

It’s a lot of numbers, and for someone who would go home and do pages of long division on her own in grade school, they are fun to explore and stack this way and that to see what kind of story it tells us.

This year, the tale that interested me most, although it was nothing new, was the extent of markets in which castings are used. In our forecast, we share data for the main industries for each metal, but in the full forecast, markets for iron, steel, aluminum and the other alloys go far beyond the four or five listed. There is a NAICS code for the totalizing fluid meter and counting device market, and it buys castings. Office furniture is a metalcasting market, so is electromedical and electrotherapeutic apparatus manufacturing. You, the readers of this magazine, are a collective group of makers that keep our society rolling in an expanding network of industry.

The variety of markets that metalcasters serve is also notable. Unless it is a captive plant, rarely is a foundry tied to a single industry. The chart on p. 31 of the U.S. census shows this breadth of markets. Metalcasting businesses serve niches. This makes them flexible to meet new customer needs, apply new developments, or, as in the case of Goldens’ Foundry and Machine Co. (p. 17), create their own product.

Enjoy exploring the numbers and stories in this issue, and as always, I invite you to share your thoughts or stories of what you are making with metal castings.

Click here to see this story as it appears in MCDP.


Manage Your Time

Time management is one of the biggest issues facing employees and employers today. Whether it’s because of a growing list of tasks, increasingly complicated duties, non-work problems that need to be taken care of, or just an inability to get off Twitter or Facebook during business hours, it feels like managing those precious minutes gets harder by the month for anybody who has even a modicum of responsibility during work.

In his book “Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time,” New York Times bestselling author Rory Vaden writes knowingly and seems all too familiar with time crunches. He spells out in plain language ways to make your time matter more, and how not to waste it with surprisingly simple and intuitive ideas.

(Not that it matters, but the title of the book is ironic and catchy. It’s not iconic like “Steal This Book,” but certainly memorable.)

To get his points across to the reader, Vaden breaks up his advice into five “permissions” on what he calls a “Focus Funnel.” They are:
• Eliminate: The Permission to Ignore.
• Automate: The Permission to Invest.
• Delegate: The Permission of Imperfect.
• Procrastinate: The Permission of Incomplete.
• Concentrate: The Permission to Protect.

All of these ideas have value and Vaden gets them across impressively efficiently. The part that had the most relevance for me (of course, your mileage may vary) was on concentration. I have a habit of, well, wasting time until I need to get on deadline and have to accomplish something. Sometimes that means I’m rushing a lot more than I should be. And even though I end up getting things done, it’s more stressful than necessary.

It turns out, this is healthy, albeit in the reverse. In the chapter that focuses on this topic, Vaden goes into detail about working double-time at the start of a task when necessary, so you can have free time later. He also effectively mentioned farmers and how they harvest when they have to harvest, that at times there’s nothing they can do to avoid it and how it has to be a priority for them.

(Trust me, this makes sense in the context of the book.)

In general, “Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time” is a valuable book for any professional who struggles with managing their precious minutes. I certainly fall into that category and will take many of the lessons with me as I continue my writing. And maybe I’ll be more efficient on my next deadline.  

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