The Converting Blog (http://www.convertingblog.com)
The Converting Blog is the property of Maxcess International, the parent company of such well known industry names as Magpowr, Fife and Tidland. The blog was the brainchild of Stephanie Tuggle, the marketing director for Maxcess who wanted to expand her company's presence online.
The main contributor is Tim Walker, an internationally recognized expert in web handling and winding processes, who works as an independent consultant. He deals with many technical converting topics such as coating and laminating, web guiding and wrinkling, slitting and cutting, web tension, and winding/unwinding issues. Sometimes he deals with questions that have been asked by readers and other times he just picks a topic that interests him.
The Converting Blog began in April 2005, and it was the first blog devoted to technical issues in the converting industry. Posts are done somewhat regularly - it is typically updated around once per week. Recently, Tim Walker has been away in Japan, so Keith Hevenor has done most of the writing. Keith is the editorial/conference director for CMM International. He doesn't have the technical expertise of Tim Walker, so recent posts have had more of a general business focus.
The Labelexpo Vlog
Maxcess likes to push the envelope when it comes to the internet. Not only do they have the longest continually running blog in the industry, recently they achieved another first. When you go to the Converting Blog you will see a link to something called the Labelexpo Vlog. A vlog is a video blog, and the people at Maxcess created several short videos at Labelexpo this year in Chicago and posted them to a special web site.
There are 14 videos here, all shot from the trade show floor, and most featuring the products from the Maxcess family of companies. If you are looking for a comprehensive video roundup of Labelexpo 2006 you will be disappointed. The videos feature various products from Magpowr, Fife and Tidland. Even so, I applaud Maxcess for being on the cutting edge and bringing us the first vlog for the converting industry. You can see they put quite a bit of work into the production of the Labelexpo Vlog.
National Association of Manufacturers Blog (http://blog.nam.org/)
Most of us in the narrow web converting industry are manufacturers; this is something we all have in common. So the second blog I am featuring in this issue is the National Association of Manufacturers blog. Called ShopFloor.org, it is one of the most visited business blogs on the internet. It is also one of the oldest and most active US association blogs, dating back to late 2004. The blogger-in-chief is Pat Cleary, a senior vice president of the NAM, and he is assisted by several other writers who make regular contributions. They are all prolific writers and most of them post every day, so on a busy day there can easily be more than five new posts.
A large selection of topics is covered on Shopfloor.org, obviously focused on manufacturing, but also covering free trade, global warming, innovation and legislation. The NAM is based in Washington, DC, so the blog can be a little political at times. The authors are certainly not shy about voicing their opinions of certain politicians and publications that they do not agree with.
If you want to find out about any pending legislation that may impact manufacturers you will read about it here. They also cull the relevant statistical data that is regularly released from government agencies. On the day I wrote this column there was an excellent post about the growth of manufacturing in the third quarter in the USA. It was the fourth consecutive quarter that the manufacturing sector has grown faster than the economy as a whole.
Being a manufacturer's blog there is a definite emphasis on the health of the manufacturing sector. There are plenty of manufacturing success stories (often of NAM members) that are discussed. One of my favorite parts of the blog is the weekend video series titled Cool Stuff Being Made, which claims to have the internet's largest collection of manufacturing videos. Recent videos have shown everything from beer to trumpets to an aircraft carrier being made.
It would be very time consuming to read every post that is written on ShopFloor.org, so I usually just scan the headlines and read what interests me. A vibrant manufacturing sector is in all of our best interests, and the NAM blog provides not just relevant information, but also presents ideas and opinions on topics that impact us as manufacturers.