Friday, December 28, 2012

Top Five Twitter Posts: Flight of the Manufacturing CEOs, Infographics and the Innovation Killer

This is the final Twitter Friday post of 2012 — a fact that brought the year flashing before our eyes in a swirl of year-in-review retrospectives and memories of all kinds of breakthroughs in the world of manufacturing, rotary slides and linear guides, engineering and innovation in general. It's been quite the ride, 2012. Here's a look at some of our favorite moments on Twitter this week, as we gear up for the end of days ... er ... I mean the end of December! All kidding aside, chat us up on Twitter at @BWCnews!

1. The Executive Migration — CEOs Pack Up Their Desks via Manufacturing Executive Blog: An increasing number of chief executives are leaving their offices, a recent report found. Most of those departures could be chalked up to resignation, but 21 percent left had retired and about 17 percent stepped down but stayed on with the company as a lesser-ranking executive. If you're a CEO, do you plan to retire this coming year? Have you started to think about training or scouting for a successor? We'd love to hear your input!

2. New Infographics for Engineers on We made several new additions to our growing collection of infographics for engineers! Among them are a chart that debunks five myths about manufacturing and another that explores the much-talked-about manufacturing renaissance. Check it out, print them out and tell us ideas for future topics!

3. World's Longest High-Speed Rail Line Makes Debut via Shanghai Daily: The farthest-reaching high-speed train in the world made its 1,428-mile debut in China recently, according to the Shanghai Daily newspaper. The massive rail line spans half of China and travels at speeds of up to 186 mph. That super-fast addition to China's existing network of nearly 5,800 miles of railroads means the country now has the world's longest wall, the world's longest bridge and the world's lengthiest high speed rail.

4. The Patent Office — An Innovation Killer? via A recent patent lawsuit filed by 3D Systems against Kickstarter and Formlabs contests the startup's right to manufacturing a successfully financed stereolithography 3D printer. "At first glance, this could easily be shrugged off," the article reads. "Really, patent lawsuits happen all the time, and it is rare that they blow up to anything huge for either side, other than some bragging rights and some lawyer's paychecks (see Samsung versus Apple for a counterpoint)." But lawsuits like this could hearken bad news for crowdsourcing platforms like Kickstarter and, in effect, the small businesses and start-ups that use that form of investment to get an idea off the ground. Your thoughts?

5.  Bringing Manufacturing Back to America on Times Call: "When we buy American, we build America," this columnist quotes a manufacturing as saying. And that's a good way to frame the issue as manufacturing executives consider how to balance a global market and, conversely, a need to become at least majority sourced USA. Click through to read the rest of the speech.

Monday, December 24, 2012

#MotionMonday: The Truth About Green Jobs

A GOOD KIND OF GREEN – Greening up the manufacturing space is obviously an important priority for businesses that value sustainability, lean manufacturing, improved efficiency and being better stewards of the environment. But there's a good kind of green that needs to be the focus, the kind that brings high-wage jobs in the long term to put our growing population to work. But when these "green" jobs require heavy government regulation and rely on subsidies, that ends up hurting the economy and stifling productivity.

The California Lutheran University Center for Economic Research and Forecasting recently released a report titled "The Truth About Green Jobs and California: A Review of the Costs, Risks and Trade-offs of Green Jobs Policies" that examines the difference between positive green job growth and its negative counterpart.

Click here for the original graphic
"Many within the media, academic and the economic development communities have expressed enormous enthusiasm about the prospects for green jobs as a result of strong environmental legislation," the executive summary reads. "Indeed, many claim that increased environmental regulation is a key to a newfound prosperity."

The report's aim is to cut through the hype, it says, to separate fact from fiction in the discussion about green jobs and how to regulate manufacturing to promote sustainability.

"One issue is defining a 'Green Job,'" the review continues. "Since data are collected in a way that makes it difficult to identify green jobs, researchers tend to classify certain industries as 'Green.' This necessarily requires either grossly underestimating the positive impact of green jobs, if one is too selective, or grossly overestimating them if too inclusive."

The California Manufacturing and Technology Association piggybacked on the university study to conclude that the "right" green jobs wouldn't sacrifice California's existing job base.

The right green jobs, per CMTA, are "new green product manufacturers, research and development jobs and service jobs that relate to purchases and installation of new green systems."

The wrong type of green jobs?

"Jobs created by policies that make it harder to retain and grow high wage jobs or that burden consumers with high costs."

What do you think of the report's findings and the CMTA's conclusion about which types are positive for California's economic growth? Tell us in the comment box!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Top Five Twitter Posts: Force of Manufacturing, Solar Panel Stickers and an Engineering Hero

Smack-dab in the middle of the holidays and we're still busy as ever in cyberspace and on the manufacturing floor, making conversation online and guided motion solutions at our Bay Area headquarters. It's an exciting time of year. Let us fill you in on some of the chatter that defined our Twitter conversations this week, from the funny to the fascinating. Make sure to follow our future tweets at @BWCnews!

Credit: Motion System Design
1. The Force of U.S. Manufacturing in Motion System Design magazine: The glossy publication put together a nice piece on the "new normal" of global manufacturing and the role domestic industry plays in the field's worldwide growth. On the panel cited in this article is BWC's very own Pamela Kan, CEO member of various public advisory panels. In it, Kan talks about, among other things, the importance of manufacturing products in the U.S., the meaning of productivity and how we can improve domestic manufacturing.

2. Peel-and-Stick Solar Panels via Product Design & Development Magazine: For the first time, scientists have found a way to create flexible solar cells, bendable enough to fashion into peel-and-stick patches. The developing vastly widens the application of solar technology, the magazine says. We've achieve "the ideal: flexible, decal-like solar panels that can be peeled off like Band-Aids and stuck to virtually any surface, from papers to window panes."

3. Boeing, BMW Join Forces on Manufacturing Executive Blog: Recent advances of new composite materials, namely carbon fiber, to build super lightweight cars and aircraft has led BMW and airline giant Boeing. We look forward to seeing the innovation the partnership will breed!

Credit: Big Beacon
4. The Jackhammer Elegies: A Novel with an Engineering Hero via Big Beacon: A few blogs posts ago, we suggested some pretty cool gift ideas for engineers. But here's another we'd like to retroactively add to the list. It's a book whose protagonist, Scott Carter, is a civil/structural engineer. Click through to read more about the novel in an interview with its author, Stefan Jaeger.

5. Skills Gap to Drive Manufacturing Power Shift via Manufacturing Engineering Media: While we talk about reshoring manufacturing and repatriating domestic profits, here's a piece that reminds us how a shortage of skilled laborers will keep pushing manufacturing overseas unless the U.S. comes up with a policy to counteract that. Do you think we'll see a formal U.S. manufacturing policy in 2013?

Monday, December 17, 2012

#MotionMonday: Gearing Up For the FIRST Robotics Kick-Off

As strong supporters of STEM initiatives, we are always looking for opportunities where we can encourage our local science, technology, engineering and math students to do great things. One of the many ways we reach out to students is through FIRST, an annual robotics competition founded by Dean Kamen. During the 2013 program we are sponsoring three high school teams as Diamond Suppliers to the kit of parts — The Vacaville Robodogs, the Sacramento Fembots and the Brentwood Patriots.

Look for us in the 2013 program catalog
READY TO RUMBLE? — These teams will take part in a national contest that pits robots they design and build against those of other teams. FIRST robotics, the nonprofit organization that facilitates the months-long competition, aims to promote STEM education and foster future engineers and scientists by making STEM education fun and practical. We contribute guided motion components, financial aid and publicity to support some of our local teams.

This year's FRC kick-off takes place on Saturday January 5, 2013. We'll be covering the event at San Jose State University, where hundreds of students will compete in what marks the start of the design and build season. At the kick-off event students will, "compare notes, get ideas, make friends, find mentoring teams, learn the game, pick up the Kit of Parts and get geared up for the exciting competition seasons." (Credit:

VARSITY SPORT FOR THE MIND — The FRC season culminates in an intense competitive event that draws teams from all over the world to compete in large arenas in a competition that requires students' robots to achieve complex tasks. What makes the competition so fierce is that FIRST culls the best and brightest young minds to compete, and then there are the variables on game day: Will the battery run out? Will the machine malfunction? How to tackle those problems on game day while the clock keeps ticking?

The program teaches kids to think on their feet and dream up innovative solutions to immediate problems. That ingenuity lies at the heart of invention and engineering, it provides the foundation for a robust manufacturing sector because it fuels innovation. That's the spirit we aim to foster here. And that's why we support FIRST.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Top Five Twitter Posts: Made in America, Manufacturing Semantics and Facebook's BWC Year-in-Review

Just a few weeks left of 2012 — enjoy the last few days of the year! We've had quite the week on Twitter, sharing an article published by our company president, some manufacturing news, wishing students luck on their engineering finals and lots of other happenings. We'll spotlight a few of our favorite moments right here. Become part of the action by following this linear guide manufacturer on Twitter at @BWCnews!

Credit: Photo Cards Direct
1. December is 'Made in America' Month via Industry Week: Though we recognize the importance of the global economy and our increasing interconnectedness to industry in other countries, we also take pride in our heritage as an American manufacturer. According to Industry Week,  "A recent study by the National Retail Federation revealed that the average American will spend $700 in holiday purchases this year for a total of $465 billion. If that money was spent entirely on U.S. made products it would create 4.6 million jobs."

2. Is Manufacturing Still a Dirty Word? via Ideas Lab by GE: BWC President Pamela Kan shared her thoughts on the negative connotations surrounding the word — and the industry of — manufacturing. Does the younger generation perceive it as dirty, cheap and blue collar? How can we change that view to make them realize it's increasingly advancing, it's high-paying, it's a job to vie for and it's the backbone of our economy? A big thank you to the folks at General Electric for sharing Pamela's blog post this week!

3. Gift Ideas for Engineers via Maybe you've already completed your holiday shopping, but in case you haven't, we've compiled a list of some gifts an engineer might enjoy. From visible-gear clocks to a piston coffee mug, these selections are sure to amuse the receiver ...and may be the talk of the office.

Credit: BWC
4. Bishop-Wisecarver Corporation Fan Page via We celebrated a mini milestone later this week when we finally reached more than 400 fans on our Facebook page. Nice way to wrap up this mid-December week! Join us on there for updates, photo posts, polls and a running log of what we're up to throughout the week. Oh, and an added end-of-the-year bonus: Facebook compiled a Timeline of 2012 highlights for us. Reminisce with us here!

5. Six Things to Know About the Future of Manufacturing via The North Jefferson News: Understanding the evolution of manufacturing in the U.S. and abroad is key to understanding the trajectory of its future. That's why it's important to note that manufacturing is dynamic, it's diverse, that its future consumers live in the developing world as well as other insights shared in this article. Great read!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gift Ideas for Engineers, Builders, DIY Makers

Have you finished all that holiday shopping for the engineer in your life? If not, here's our top five picks so far. In this Motion Monday edition we're featuring some of the coolest gadgets and trinkets shared with us on our social media channels — from the good and the great on to all things found on What sort of engineering fun did you find online this year?

1. Desktop Gear Clock: Got gears? It's a timepiece built out of a bunch of gears in various sizes, and we found it for a few dollars shy of $50 on — a great visual!

2. Piston Mug: Need a gift for a mechanical engineer in your acquaintance? How about a handy coffee mug shaped like a piston? It's chrome-plated, dishwasher safe (but not microwaveable) and insulated to keep your favorite beverages hot or cold. And oh, Amazon, it's so hard to beat your prices ... we found one for $19.99 on the retail giant's online store.

3. Level Cufflinks: How about present that is stylish and practical? Check out these cuff links that double as level. The familiar neon liquid is bound to be appreciated by anyone with experience building things. Click through to find these cuff links offered by CuffCrazy for $30.

4. Ultimate 5-in-1 Pen: "The pen that makes all other pens quiver in inadequacy" — an amazing claim from our friends at Think Geek, right? Hyperbolic as it may seem, you can't help but be impressed the five geek tools crammed into one apparatus. You have a pen, stylus, LED flashlight and red laser pointer all in one convenient pen. Even more impressive? It's less than $10.

5. Pizza "Pi" Cutter: "Cut your pie with Pi," suggests Think Geek. "For such an irrational number, you sure are kind. You help us do all sorts of things — like figure out the area and circumference of our pizza. And now, with the power of future technologies, and combining things with other things, you will also be able to cut our pizza into pieces." We couldn't have said it better ourselves. If you you know a pizza lover who also appreciates the power of Pi, it's likely well worth the $15 to order them this cleverly make cooking utensil.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Top Five Twitter Posts: Linear Guides, Infographics for Engineers and Immortal Jellyfish

A product launch, a manufacturing renaissance, new breakthroughs in science and innovative perspectives on the state of our economy — those and other topics blipped across our radar this week. Just to capture some of that conversation, we've summed some of the most notable tweets here. Become part of the conversation, or suggest nominations for our next Twitter Friday installment, by tweeting us at @BWCnews. Happy holidays!

1. Download a Free QuickTrak® Linear Guide Catalog on We recently announced the launch of our latest product, a linear guide called QuickTrak. It's a line of modular cut-to-length and simple-to-build parts. And now, you can download the product catalog from our website! 
2. Infographics for Engineers on Throughout the year, we've steadily built up our collection of infographics geared for the engineering crowd. These are useful visuals that lay out information in an easy-to-digest printable poster formats. Our latest one explores the much-talked-about manufacturing renaissance. Click through to download, print and hang a copy at your workspace!

3. Jellyfish Might Prove Immortality a Possibility via Discover News: If you picked up a copy of the Sunday New York Times this week, you may have read the feature on how a scientist in Japan is exploring a specific type of reverse-jellyfish that may hold the secret of everlasting life. How much of the story's optimism toward the study is merited? Here's a science writer's interesting take on the phenomenon.

4. The Insourcing Boom in The Atlantic: Here's another story that got our Twitter friends yapping — one about the ever-growing trend of bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. from China. Is outsourcing an outdated business model? You tell us.

5. Is a Manufacturing Revival a National Security Necessity? on Manufacturing Executive Blog: People talk about having to build up a national manufacturing policy because the industry is so vital to the health of the economy as it generates jobs and acts even as a bellwether to the broader health of the nation. A report issued recently further underscores the importance of manufacturing by arguing that it's vital to national security and helps minimize damage in event of natural disaster — or at the very least speeds up recovery. Click through to read the blog and download the report.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Watch, Read, Listen, Do: Engineering Roundtable, Re-shoring Manufacturing and Free Application Stories

Part of what encourages a forward-thinking and innovative culture is how well a business keep tabs on current events, new ideas and the trajectory of modern manufacturing. Every day we scourer social media channels for the good and the great — we're more than just your linear guide manufacturer! Here's a bit of what caught our interest in the world of science  manufacturing, engineering and technology.

Where do you dial in for the latest news?

[ WATCH ] The crew at Design World network held an editorial round table again, another installment in their new series in which the newsroom staff speaks with industry experts on a variety of engineering-related topics. Check it out and stay tuned for future episodes. Great idea, guys!

[ READ ] James Fallows writes in a recent Atlantic article, "For decades, every trend in manufacturing favored the developing world and worked against the United States. But new tools that greatly speed up development from idea to finished product encourage start-up companies to locate here, not in Asia. Could global trade winds finally be blowing toward America again?" What do you think?

[ LISTEN ] Did you know that the National Academy of Engineering has an online archive of audio podcasts related to the field? And they're free too, so tune in!

[ DO ] Designers, engineers and all-around thinkers and makers draw inspiration from many places in the world including from each other. That's why we're so fascinated by application stories — they tell us how someone else solved a solution that may be common to other people. Seeing how other people approach a problem can help us engineer a more refined solution as well. In that spirit of sharing and inspiration, we invite you to peruse our library of application examples and to download any number of them for free! These case studies examine applications in industries such as industrial machinery, medical device manufacturing, transportation, robotics and many more.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Q&A With Territory Sales Manager David Weise

Meet Bishop-Wisecarver's Newest Territory Manager David Weise
David joined the Bishop-Wisecarver team this fall, bringing to the group a lot of enthusiasm! He recently met some of our customers in the packaging industry at Pack Expo in October. If you're in his Midwest region and need help with anything related to linear guides and rotary motion systems, email him at Welcome to the team, David!

Question: Tell us a about your background, your education, how long you’ve been with Bishop-Wisecarver and what you like most about being on the BWC team?
Answer: I’ve spent the majority of my career in sales, marketing, and business development for technical products with service-oriented industrial companies. This has allowed me to work with both OEMs and end users in wide variety of industries from automotive and automation to packaging and pulp and paper. Along with quality products and a family working environment, one of the things that drew me to Bishop-Wisecarver is the market diversity in which our products are used, ensuring the potential for growth even when some markets are experiencing a downturn.

Question: What do you like about sales?
Answer: Sales is about helping the customer find a solution to a problem or a better way of accomplishing a task.  If I’m not adding any value to the customer there is no real reason to pick my products over a competitor's. Working as a partner with the customer helps create a solutions-based sales environment.

Question: What do you enjoy most about working with engineers?
Answer: Engineers usually have a specific and unique way of looking at projects, problems, and products. They need to be creative while often working within predefined constraints. I enjoy working with engineers as a partner to help optimize their process and hopefully remove some of their constraints through the use of my products.

Question: What challenges arise from selling a product based on features and benefits?
Answer: I think the biggest challenge is to not “sell” your product, but rather to listen to the customer to find out his specific needs or problems. Once you know your customer’s objectives, you can talk about the definite features and benefits that address those needs.

Questions: What makes for a good selling relationship with a customer?
Answer: People buy from people. They tend to do more business with people and products they believe they can count on. Trust is the key element, along with follow-up and following through.

Question: If sales were a team sport, what would it be and why?
Answer: Basketball.  Each member on the team, on their own, is capable of scoring. But the true victories come when the team members work together, assisting each other toward the common goal.

Question: Speaking of sports, what’s your favorite team or teams?
Answer: The Green Bay Packers, of course.

Question: What do you like to do outside of work?
Answer: I enjoy spending time with my wife and family, travelling to tropical climates (especially during the Wisconsin winter months), and am a certified scuba diving instructor (during the Wisconsin summer months).

Question: What’s your favorite coffee beverage? Cream, no cream, sugar, no sugar?
Answer: I like my coffee dark roast, black, and plentiful.

Question: Favorite quote?
Answer: “From what we get we make a living. From what we give we make a life.”  — Winston Churchill