TD Economics: Manufacturing Industry in North Carolina Transitions to High Tech

TD Economics, a TD Bank affiliate, finds in its latest report that the economy of North Carolina continues its transition period and, while the economy diversifies, it will gradually become increasingly resistant to economic downturns.

The author of the TD Economics report, economist Christos Shiamptanis, said that the transition is a necessary evil, as the state’s manufacturing sector moves from traditional industries like apparel and textiles to biotechnology, high-tech and services. He added that the state’s economic output is boosted by the improved productivity and the enhanced efficiency of high-tech businesses. These businesses also require high-skilled workers, and high-skill jobs are more resilient to negative economic evolutions than middle-skilled positions.

The report identifies several growth opportunities for the state of North Carolina, which include a shift to industries with high potential, such as pharmaceutical and electronics, the strong research universities with world-class educational programs and the development of technology business clusters.

Shiamptani, explaining the potential of North Carolina, said that the decade of 1999-2009 the output of electronics and computer manufacturing increased by 569 percent, way above the national average, while production of chemicals grew by 9 percent, in the context of national production dropping 3 percent. He added that high-tech manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies tend to stay above the floating line even in crisis times. If the state’s economy were to transition to these types of businesses, the manufacturing jobs in this area of the country should not be as volatile as they currently are.

The transition to pharmaceutical, biotechnology and high-tech production is even more necessary since the traditional manufacturing businesses have a much less optimistic outlook and declines will most probably persist.

 

The Top New Vehicles by Fuel Economy from Consumer Reports

The most effective way to cut spending on gas is buying a new, fuel-efficient car, an investment that becomes more attractive as gas prices continue to climb, suggests Consumer Reports.

The recommendation comes with a list of the most fuel-efficient vehicles, which includes Ford Escape Hybrid, Volkswagen Golf TDI and Honda Fit.

According to Consumer Reports, these three vehicles are the best in their class in terms of real-world fuel efficiency.

The Senior Director of Consumer Reports’ East Haddam test center, David Champion, explained that, while hybrid and diesel vehicles provide increased fuel efficiency, they are also more expensive. Nonetheless, he added, with the continuous increase of gas prices, these cars become a viable alternative, as the return on investment will come in a less time. David Champion added that the fuel efficiency of a car could also be improved by 1-2 miles per gallon through the use of manual transmission.

Following real-world tests, the best subcompact vehicle in terms of fuel efficiency is Honda Fit, with 30 miles per gallon, which costs around 16,020 dollars, while the worst in this class is Chevrolet Aveo LT, with 25 miles per gallon.

In the small wagons class, the best fuel economy was achieved by Volkswagen Golf TDI, with manual transmission and Diesel engine. The car achieved an efficiency performance of 38 miles per gallon. Prices are around 24,764 dollars. At the opposite end, with 23 miles per gallon, sit Subaru Impreza and Scion xB.

For families, the best car appears to be Toyota Prius IV, with a performance of 44 miles per gallon, while Mazda 6 V6, Chevrolet Impala, and Ford Fusion achieved less than half that performance – 20 miles per gallon.

The full list of vehicles is available in the July issue of the magazine, starting with June 7, and to website subscribers of Consumer Reports.

Survey: Many Americans Believe Father’s Day Isn’t Getting the Attention It Should

A large portion of both men and women think that Father’s Day is not getting the attention it should, reveals a recent survey conducted by the independent research company Toluna on behalf of Buy.com.

The difference between the two groups is not too high, a mere 4 percent. Specifically, 36 percent of the surveyed women agreed that Father’s Day was under appreciated, while, in the men’s group, 40 percent had the same opinion.

The survey was conducted through Toluna’s online omnibus on May 18, with the participation of 1,035 adults from the US, aged 18 or older.

Another finding of the survey was that 41 percent of fathers would like to get a new car as a Father’s Day present, if money were not a problem. Fifteen percent of the participating fathers said they would like a yacht or a boat.

Realistically speaking, 20 percent of fathers said they wanted more time with their families, 12 percent opted for computer, netbooks or laptops, and 11 percent – for sports items.

In USA, UK and Canada, Father’s Day will be celebrated on June 19 this year. Father’s Day has been an official holiday since 1966, and it is celebrated on the third Sunday of June. New Zealand and Australia celebrate fathers on the first Sunday in September.

Buy.com is a leading online retail store, focusing on providing products at affordable prices. The store is owned by Tokio-based Internet company Rakuten. Buy.com has it’s headquarter in Aliso Viejo, California. The two companies combined, distribute more than 70 million from approximately 35,000 producers worldwide.

 

No Healthy Food Plate without the Favorite Protein Source – Beef

Beef DinnerAs the US Department of Agriculture released MyPlate, the new national icon for a healthy and complete diet, the associations of cattle ranchers and farmers show eagerness to help American families use the new dietary icon to create healthy diets that include lean beef.

MyPlate offers visual guidelines to building a healthy diet, by balancing nutrients from a wide variety of sources. Lean beef, along with other types of lean meat, have been recognized by the advisory committee of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines as food dense in nutrients. Furthermore, lean beef make enjoying food easier, while also eating less.

The government’s guidelines are met by 29 beef cuts, which include T-Bone, Tenderloin, Sirloin, as well as the Ground Beef containing 95 percent lean beef.

Moreover, 67 percent of the beef sold in stores is lean beef, which means that most consumers are already using healthy meat in their diet.

Data indicates that most Americans already consume meet on a regular basis – more than 90 percent. Studies show that 3 ounces of lean beef, containing no more than 150 calories, can provide for up to half of the daily protein requirements as well as nine other nutrients.

Among the nutrients in lean beef are Vitamin B12, iron, zinc and protein, which are not found in vegetables and fruit in sufficient quantities.

Furthermore, beef can easily be associated with grains and vegetables, as well as dairy products, amplifying the nutritious effects, while ensuring the food is tasty and enjoyable.

Digital Textbooks Likely to Be Highly Favored by Students with Tablets

Majority of students would like to own a tablet and those who already do are more likely to adopt the use of textbooks and other educational material in digital formats, revealed a new survey commissioned by the Pearson Foundation. Furthermore, the students that own tablet devices believe that they are very valuable tools in the education process.

According to the results of the survey, 70 percent of high-school seniors and college students would like to own a tablet PC, and 20 percent plan to buy their own table in the following six months.

The survey was made in order to get an insight into the opinion students have on ownership of digital devices and their intentions of purchasing such devices in the near future. The survey also looked into how students perceived tablets, how they would use them and what features they are most interested in. The students were also interviewed about whether they preferred to study on digital textbooks or printed ones.

The current levels of tablet ownership among students are still low, at merely 4 percent of high-school seniors bound for college and 7 percent of college students. Nearly 90 percent of the interviewed students who already owned a tablet PC said that the devices made the study process more effective, while 76 percent said that tablets improved performance in class.

Mobile technology has high potential to transform the educational experience in colleges and high-schools, as shown by the enthusiasm that students manifested towards tablet PCs, underscored the president of the Pearson Foundation, Mark Nieker.

The survey included more than 1,200 students in college and 200 high-school seniors, and it was conducted online by Harris Interactive in March 2011.

Future Moms Want Information on When Flying Is Safe For Their Pregnancy

For many couples with a baby on the way, the holiday season can represent a last chance for spending time in two. As such, the season poses some problems for pregnant women, as travelling, flying especially, can be very stressful.

Future mothers are very confused about how risky flying is for their pregnancy, with 20 percent of them being unsure whether flying is at all safe when a baby is on the way. The finding comes from a new survey made by the Ultrasound Center in London and Netmums.

The survey also revealed that 85 percent of mothers to be want clear, standardized guidance to help them plan for holidays before the baby is born. Currently, the safety guidelines of airlines vary from 34 to 37 weeks of pregnancy as the most advanced term.

According to the founder of Netmums, Siobhan Freegard, explained that mothers-to-be wanted clear information, and standard guidelines from airlines would help them reduce the time spent on planning pre-baby holidays, as well as the associated stress.

Instead of relying on the varying guidelines of airline companies, 61 percent of the surveyed mothers took precautions before travel by checking the health of their pregnancy. Furthermore, 81 percent of mothers-to-be also consulted with their midwives before making any travel plans permanent.

Darryl Maxwell of the UItrasound Center in London recommends that women who plan to travel before the arrival of the baby find out if there is any chance of early delivery. He added that their pregnancy should be safe for flight before the 37th week or, in the case of twin pregnancies without complications, before the 34th week. ObGyn Maxwell further recommended that airlines respect these recommendations as well when issuing their guidelines.

 

TractorLife.com Assists Farmers With the Protection of Their Expensive Equipment

One of the websites under the umbrella of agricultural brands at Penton Media, TractorLife.com, announced that the website is featuring information aimed at helping farmers select the best products for the maintenance of their farm equipment.

The website presents an instructional video, as well as the differences between low-cost and high-quality hydraulic fluids for tractors. The reasoning behind the action is the fact that low-cost fluids have increasing presence in the stores all over the US, making it difficult for farmers to make a choice.

The checklist presents key features that buyers should look for in the product labels when they purchase hydraulic fluids. TractorLife.com also warns farmers against going for the bargain products, which could lead in time to bigger repair bills for their farm equipment.

Among the most common reasons for tractor failure is the improper lubrication of moving parts. The inadequate lubrication of these parts with low-cost, low-quality fluids, can lead to oxidation, excessive wear, corrosion, reduced break performance, and failure at cold temperatures.

These effects lead to decreased performance and shorten the life of farm equipment. Furthermore, the products that fail to protect tractor parts against low temperatures can impair proper lubrication of hydraulic pumps, braking, steering and transmission.

By using high-quality products for their tractors, farmers can benefit from resistance to extreme temperatures, higher performance, water resistance, anti-wear protection, and resistance to oxidation. This way, farmers can extend the life of their farming equipment. Furthermore, high-quality fluids can reduce the downtime needed for repairs and maintenance, thus helping farmers to increase their productivity.

BioAmber Becomes the Exclusive Supplier of Succinic Acid to Mitsubishi Chemicals

US-based renewable chemicals producer BioAmber has become the exclusive supplier of bio-based succinic acid for Mitsubishi Chemical together with BioAmber’s distribution partner for Asian markets, Mitsui&Co.

As part of the partnership, the trio will also look into the feasibility of a production facility of succinic acid close to one of Mitsubishi’s future production plants in Thailand.

Mitsubishi Chemical and BioAmber will also work on incorporating some of the Mitsubishi technology for succinic acid into BioAmber’s platform for bio-succinic acid, in a move to develop low-cost production processes for the bio-degradable and renewable polymer patented by Mitsubishi – polybutylene succinate.

The chief executive officer of BioAmber, Jean-Francois Huc, explained that, by combining the succinic technologies of the two companies, their costs of producing bio-based succinic acid will decrease, while the inclusion of Mitsui&Co in the partnership will ensure rapid global delivery of succinic technology.

The general manager of Mitsubishi Chemical’s division of business development in the field of sustainable resources, Shigeru Handa, said that BioAmber’s bio-based succinic acid technology is the best of its kind and it can be improved even further. Moreover, he added, the partnership will lower Mitsubishi Chemical’s costs considerably, and the polybutylene succinate will become more than 50 percent renewable.

BioAmber is a company that produces various chemicals from renewable resources, and it is the leader of the bio-based succinic acid and derived products, including, but not limited to, biodegradable plastic. The company is involved in partnerships with other reputable corporations, such as DuPont and Cargill. The company operates the only production plant in the world dedicated to the production of bio-based succinic acid, located in Pomacle, France.

Basketball hoop with adjustable height turns 25

basketball hoopNowadays, a basketball hoop that can be raised or lowered in order to allow people of all heights to play is a common thing. Two decades and a half ago, the adjustable basketball hoop was one of the products that revolutionized the industry of basketball products.

The manufacturer of the basketball hoop with adjustable height, Lifetime Products, celebrates the silver anniversary of their product with giveaways of 25 of their renowned product through 2011. Those who want their own adjustable hoop will be randomly selected to receive one for free on the manufacturer’s website.

Lifetime Products, the company that created the first adjustable hoop in the world, was established in 1986, when it introduced the adjustable basketball pole Quick Adjust. The product was a full system that could be adjusted easily to the needed height in seconds. Since then, the company has evolved to being the largest producer of basketball hoops for family residences worldwide.

The adjustable hoop’s height can be anywhere between 7.5-10 feet, or highly adjustable, depending on which model the clients choose. All models of the product are equipped with various mechanisms for adjusting the height, and they have become a standard in the industry of residential basketball.

Lifetime Products president, Richard Hendrickson, said that the impact of the company’s adjustable basketball hoop on basketball is simply humbling. He added that the innovation brought to customers have turned the game into a fun family activity at home, instead of basketball being the privilege of athletes in gyms and sports courts.

Since its establishment, the company has produced more than 10 million products, which have been sold in 58 countries.

WANO: Safety Levels of the US Nuclear Energy Operations Were High in 2010

In the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi has led to growing concerns regarding the safety of nuclear energy plants. New data released by WANO – the World Association of Nuclear Operators – reveals that nuclear energy plants are safe and reliable in their operations.

The nuclear energy industry is one of the main providers of low-cost electrical energy in the US. Data compiled by WANO shows that, in 2010, the nuclear energy industry was one of the safest industrial sectors. The sector’s performance in terms of safety was at an all-time high.

Some of the key aspects are the fact that the more than 90 percent of the industry’s backup safety systems were available nearly all the time. The number of automatic unplanned shutdowns industry-wide was at the second lowest level in history, with only 0.21 shutdowns for every 7,000 hours of operation and every power plant.

At the same time, the nuclear power plants had their online electricity production, measured through the reactor capability factor, above 91 percent. This means that the 104 American reactors operated at highly efficient levels.

Furthermore, the nuclear energy sector was one of the safest industries to work for. The rate of accident for every 200,000 work hours was 0.09.

In 2010, the nuclear power plants in the US produced some 806.3 billion kW/h, at low costs. While the cost of production per kW/h is not available for 2010, in 2009, nuclear energy costs per kW/h were lower by 31 percent than those from coal-based plants and by 59 percent than production costs at gas-fueled plants.