Elon Musk is one of the first customers of Tesla’s Solar Roof

Elon Musk is one of the first customers of Tesla’s Solar Roof

Aug 3, 2017

by Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge Tesla has started installing the first of its Solar Roofs, and Elon Musk is among the initial customers. The Tesla CEO said on a call with investors last night that he and JB Straubel, the company’s CTO, have both installed the solar power roofs on their homes. Musk even claims that two photos released in Tesla’s letter to investors (seen below) are of one of their houses (though the home looks a little small for Musk). “I want to emphasize there’s no Photoshopping on the roof. That is actually how it looks,” Musk said. “It was, ‘take some pics with your phone and send them over.’ That’s what we’re talking about here. Not some special lighting conditions, pro-photographer situation.” There was no update on when customers outside of Tesla will start getting their roofs installed. Preorders were opened on Solar Roofs back in May, and deliveries are supposed to begin later this year. Musk said installations would start slow and then ramp up “exponentially” as the installation process is simplified and production increases. It’s a similar pattern to what Tesla is doing with car deliveries, as the first of its Model 3s went to Tesla employees, too. Musk also seems to suggest that Tesla is using these initial installations to help refine the product. “This is version one,” he said of what was installed on his home. “I think this roof’s going to look really knockout as we just keep iterating.” The Solar Roof product was announced less than a year ago, in October 2016. The product is designed to resemble a normal roof, but contain solar panels hidden among regular tiles. That way, homeowners can get the benefits of switching to solar power, without having the drawback of putting large and often unsightly solar panels on or around their home. The product is also designed to connect to Tesla’s Powerwall, a large battery meant to store enough energy to power a home. Of course, for the benefit of all of that, you’re looking at a pretty expensive up-front cost on a...

Survey Suggests More Growth Ahead For Midwest Economy

Survey Suggests More Growth Ahead For Midwest Economy

Aug 1, 2017

By The Associated Press A monthly survey of business leaders suggests that business conditions worsened last month but that the economy will pick up over the next few months in nine Midwestern and Plains states, according to a report issued Tuesday. The Mid-America Business Conditions Index dropped to 56.1 in July after reaching 62.3 in June. The May figure was 55.5. “The overall index over the past several months indicates a healthy regional manufacturing economy, and points to solid growth for both manufacturing and nonmanufacturing for the second half of 2017,” said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey. The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth in that factor, while a score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota. Economic optimism remained strong despite a decline in July’s number: to 60.2 from 67.5 in June. “Strong profit growth, still-low interest rates, and international sales boosted the economic outlook among supply managers in the nine-state region,” Goss said. The July employment index remained above growth neutral, despite slipping to 56.5 last month from 60.7 in June. “With the recent boost in employment growth, total regional employment growth (year over year) is now 1.4 percent, and slightly below the nation’s 1.6 percent gain over the same time period,” he said. On the trade front, the regional index for new export orders index dipped to 54.3 in July from 56.6 in June, and the import index declined to 50.0 from June’s 56.7. Japan’s recent decision to raise the tariff on frozen beef imports will significantly harm Kansas and Nebraska, according to Goss, because Nebraska ranked No. 1 and Kansas No. 4 in those...

Want to Revive U.S. Manufacturing? Walmart has Some…

Want to Revive U.S. Manufacturing? Walmart has Some…

Jul 31, 2017

“Want to Revive U.S. Manufacturing? Walmart has Some Suggestions” By Ian Wright, Engineering.com Revitalizing American manufacturing has been a hot topic for some time, gaining prominence as a talking point in last year’s election. Donald Trump’s victory led many to speculate about the future of manufacturing in the U.S., particularly whether it’s possible to bring manufacturing back to America. The latest piece of advice on this topic comes from a rather surprising source: Walmart. The retail giant recently convened a meeting of representatives from governments, businesses and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to present a Policy Roadmap to Renew U.S. Manufacturing. “As we’ve worked over the last four years alongside our suppliers toward our goal to source an additional $250 billion [USD] in products that support American jobs, we’ve learned a great deal about the challenges our suppliers face in domestic manufacturing,” said Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart vice president for U.S. Sourcing and Manufacturing. “The good news is we’ve also learned how to overcome the challenges and, because of our experience, Walmart is uniquely positioned to help facilitate broad engagement in accelerating the expansion of U.S. manufacturing.” Before proceeding to the specifics of Walmart’s roadmap, it should be noted that a 2015 study by the Economic Policy Institute estimated that Walmart displaced over 400,000 jobs in the United States between 2001 and 2013 as a result of Chinese imports. The majority of these jobs were in manufacturing. In 2013 alone, the value of Walmart’s imports from China amounted to approximately $45 billion; this is the same year Walmart committed to sourcing an additional $250 billion over the next decade on products that support American jobs. Irony aside, Walmart’s policy roadmap cites four major barriers to U.S. manufacturing growth: Lack of an available, qualified workforce. Lack of coordination and financing in supply chains. Complexity and costs of local, state and federal regulations. Outdated tax system and trade agreements. According to an analysis conducted by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), addressing these policy barriers to domestic manufacturing creates an opportunity to recapture approximately $300 billion in consumer goods that are currently imported, including furniture, cookware and sporting goods, potentially resulting in the creation of an estimated 1.5 million American jobs. Walmart’s roadmap includes ten “policy levers” to address the major...

Apple supplier Foxconn says it will build big Wisconsin factory

Apple supplier Foxconn says it will build big Wisconsin factory

Jul 27, 2017

By Seth Fiegerman and Julia Horowitz, CNN Tech Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturer that makes electronics for Apple and other tech companies, is coming to Wisconsin. The firm will invest $10 billion in Wisconsin to build a new manufacturing plant that produces LCD panels. The project will create 13,000 new jobs and should be completed by 2020, according to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.  Foxconn’s estimate on jobs was more conservative. In a statement, the company said the project will create 3,000 jobs with the “potential” to generate up to 13,000 new jobs. Foxconn announced the investment from the White House. CEO Terry Gou was flanked by Walker, Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan. President Trump later joined them. Walker and Ryan thanked Trump for his work on the deal. “One thing we know about this president is how committed he is to reviving American manufacturing and bringing jobs home. This right here shows actual results,” said Ryan, a Republican who represents Wisconsin. Trump called Gou “one of the great businessmen anywhere in the world.” Shortly after President Trump’s inauguration, Gou began teasing plans to invest more than $7 billion in a plant for producing displays, with the potential to create as many as 50,000 jobs. However, Gou has been talking about shifting some manufacturing to the United States for several years, with little to show for it so far. In 2013, for example, Foxconn announced plans to build a $30 million plant in Pennsylvania. It has yet to be built. Foxconn got some generous tax incentives for its Wisconsin venture. The state’s deal for the new plant, which requires legislative approval, includes incentives totaling as much as $3 billion, Walker said. The details of the incentive package would be announced in the coming days, he said. Walker said the investment could transform Wisconsin. “We’ve named it Wiscon Valley,” Walker told reporters at the White House. “It could be very much like Silicon Valley.” Foxconn had considered building the plant in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, among other states. Foxconn currently has facilities in Virginia and Indiana, each of which employ fewer than 1,000 workers, according to its website. The announcement may give Trump a victory as he looks to bring...

The New American Reshoring Movement By the Numbers

The New American Reshoring Movement By the Numbers

Jul 26, 2017

By Cutting Tool Engineering Magazine Many people are under the impression that manufacturing jobs are only moving in one direction: offshore. While many corporations are shifting certain jobs overseas to reduce manufacturing costs, there’s a lot more to the story. In reality, there are many businesses that have been making strenuous efforts to bring jobs back to the United States, a phenomenon known as the reshoring movement. Want to learn more about reshoring in the United States? Keep reading to see which U.S. companies have brought the most jobs back to the states, plus more information on this important new movement.     Companies reshore jobs in part due to increasing foreign labor costs, but that’s just one reason. Simply put, as automation and tools for engineering have improved, so too has the complexity of the manufacturing industry. And many specialty manufacturing jobs can’t be easily sent overseas. Contrary to popular belief, improvements in automation technology and engineering tools have been major assets to the new American economy. While some manufacturing jobs have been lost in recent decades, the productivity of the U.S. manufacturing sector has actually increased substantially. That means American companies are producing more goods for less cost, which results in better prices for consumers and better wages for workers. Even so, companies in the manufacturing industry are making continual efforts to bring jobs back into the United States. Often, these new manufacturing jobs and the latest tools for engineering require advanced education and highly technical skills that only American workers have to...