We did NOT see this coming!  Who on this Earth could have seen a global pandemic AND a three-year trade war with China with NO end in sight?  I don’t think Nostradamus could have foretold this event.  We have been told we are possibly eighteen (18) months away from a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus AND there is no real end in sight for any solution to the trade problems we have with China.  Of course, this is the year 2020.  This MUST serve as a wake-up call for American manufacturers and all manufacturers previously dependent upon the far East for products.  Over the past twenty-five (25) years globalizations, lean-manufacturing, the need for cost-cutting, establishing new markets, and other considerations have been at the fore-front of thinking for many CEOs, CFOs and COOs in the United States.  Make for less, reduce your labor costs, open new markets: all have been considerations for manufacturers.

Let’s take a very quick look at the top ten (10) products China exports to the United States.

The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Chinese global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from China.

  1. Electrical machinery, equipment: US $671 billion (26.9% of total exports)
  2. Machinery including computers: $417 billion (16.7%)
  3. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $99.5 billion (4%)
  4. Plastics, plastic articles: $84.4 billion (3.4%)
  5. Vehicles: $74.4 billion (3%)
  6. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $73 billion (2.9%)
  7. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $71.4 billion (2.9%)
  8. Articles of iron or steel: $69.6 billion (2.8%)
  9. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $66.8 billion (2.7%)
  10. Toys, games: $62.8 billion (2.5%)

China’s top ten (10) exports accounted for approximately two-thirds (67.6%) of the overall value of its global shipments.

Last month, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission held a hearing on the United States’ growing reliance on China’s pharmaceutical products. The topic reminded many of a spirited discussion described in Bob Woodward’s book, Fear: Trump in the White House. In the discussion, Gary Cohn, then chief economic advisor to President Trump, argued against a trade war with China by invoking a Department of Commerce study that found that ninety-seven (97) percent of all antibiotics in the United States came from China. “If you’re the Chinese and you want to really just destroy us, just stop sending us antibiotics,” he said.  Imagine ninety-seven percent (97%) of all the antibiotics we purchase and consume come from a country that really does not like us and from a leader, Xi Jinping, who has openly stated that he wishes we would “go away”. 

If we look at several reasons U.S. companies wish to “reshore” we see the following: (NOTE: This list comes from the publication “Logistics Management”.)

  • International logistics costs:  69.7%
  • Production delays:  63.2%
  • Proximity to customers and markets: 55.3%
  • Total costs of ownership evaluation: 51.5%
  • Risk mitigation: 50.0%
  • Quality issues: 48.7%
  • Latency in supply chain: 44.7%
  • Time to market: 43.4%
  • IP theft and other issues:  34.2%
  • Currency exchange:  30.3%
  • Rising labor costs: 30.3%
  • Political instability:  19.7% (I thought this one would be much higher.)
  • Communication problems:  18.4%
  • Opportunity to automate and redesign factory floor: 14.5%

One other item, according to the New York Times, almost sixty-six thousand (66,000) businesses have closed permanently since March of 2020.  The decision to close has been made by individuals in retail establishments but also many businesses. Now, most of this is due to the COVID-19 virus problems we have right now.  Many of these companies may not return, but many also receive products from China and other countries in the Pacific Rim.  Once again, logistical nightmares.

In my opinion, just from the pharmaceutical issue alone, it’s time to re-think our dependence upon products from the “Rim”.  Let’s once again start looking at a great degree of independence upon others.  Just a thought.

As a private pilot, it is my opinion that the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) does a fantastic job.   The “guys and dolls” in the tower have amazing responsibilities for air safety and perform in an extremely admirable fashion. There are approximately fifteen thousand (15,000) federal air traffic controllers on the job every day at three hundred and fifteen (315) FAA air traffic facilities around the country, managing more than eighty-seven thousand (87,000) daily flights across U.S. airspace.  There is an FAA requirement that trainees begin their training at the Academy no later than their thirty-first (31st) birthday, and face mandatory retirement at age fifty-six (56). However, retired military air traffic controllers may qualify for appointment after reaching thirty-one (31) years of age.  You may ask, why retirement at such an early age? STRESS, that’s the reason.  Also, why the minimum age of thirty-one?  They do NOT want kids in the tower playing around, chasing skirts, popping bubblegum.

 I would ask you to look at the chart below and you will get some idea as to the number of passengers traveling in today’s world. Please note that in this list are four (4) airports in the United States.  Number one—Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta with 107.4 million passengers coming and going in 2018.  Can you imagine the number of flights twenty-four (24) hours a day needed to transport this many passengers?  The coordination and attention to detail is staggering.  The people in the tower do it all. 

We want to look at what will be the newest international airport – China’s Beijing Daxing International Airport.  Before we look at the digitals, let’s get background information on the airport itself. (NOTE: Information comes from ChinaDaily.com web site.)


Construction of Beijing Daxing International Airport has been completed after five years of frenzied activity. When the mega-airport begins operation on September 30 of this year, it will be the world’s largest single-terminal airport at 700,000 square meters – the size of ninety-eight (98) soccer fields. The eighty (80) billion-yuan ($11.7 billion) facility, which is forty-six (46) kilometers south of downtown Beijing, will serve as a second international airport for the capital. It is designed to relieve the pressure of rising demand for air travel on Capital International Airport in northeastern Beijing.

With seven runways planned, including one for military use, the new airport will ultimately handle more than 100 million passengers a year, matching Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the United States. The US airport is currently the world’s busiest, receiving more than one hundred (100) million passengers per year, but across two terminals.  We see this from the chart above.  For Atlanta, there are two terminals, one domestic and one international.

Guo Yanchi, chief engineer in charge of construction work at the new Beijing facility, said: “The Daxing airport is the world’s largest integrated transportation hub. The terminal building is also the world’s largest built with a seamless steel structure, boasting the world’s first design of double-deck departure and double-deck arrival platforms.” This is a marvelous engineering feat and demonstrates China’s ability to create world-class structures.  We got a glimpse of that from the Olympic Summer Games a few years ago. 

In barely seven decades, China has transformed from a nation with a handful of shabby, makeshift airports to being home to aviation super-hubs – the result of the country’s rapid economic development and greater openness to the outside world.  According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, there were thirty-six (36) airports in 1949, most of which could handle only small aircraft. The number had soared to two hundred and thirty-six (236) by the end of June, with about seven new airports coming online each year in the past decade.

Beijing Capital International Airport, the first airport for commercial flights after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, featured just one 2,500-meter runway when it opened in 1958, and had a terminal covering about 100,000 square meters.

“Even during peak time, the airport was only able to handle fewer than two hundred and fifty (250) passengers per hour, most of whom were government officials,” said Liu Zhaolong, a consultant with the China Civil Airports Association, adding that ordinary citizens at that time had to buy tickets to visit the airport.  Last year, the airport, which now has three terminals but is hitting full capacity, handled more than 100 million passengers, making it the second-busiest in the world after Atlanta’s airport. (Again, please take a look at the chart above.)

China has been gearing up to boost its general aviation industry as the country undergoes a huge expansion into the world of flying, with an increasing number of Chinese taking to the skies.

Chinese airports handled 1.26 billion passenger trips in 2018, compared with four hundred and eighty-six (486) million ten (10) years ago, a year-on-year increase of eleven (11) percent, said Zhang Rui, deputy director of the administration’s Airport Department. Thirty-seven of the country’s airports handled more than ten (10) million passengers in just one year, he added.

China has built an international air network with 844 routes, connecting 167 cities in 61 countries. It has also signed intergovernmental civil air transportation agreements or established civil aviation connections with 125 countries and regions, according to the administration’s statistics in September last year.

“Historically, China’s domestic market dwarfed international services, but airlines have been rapidly stretching their wings in the past decade, thanks to the country’s reform and opening-up policy, as well as people’s soaring outbound tourism demands,” said Li Xiaojin, a professor of aviation economics at Civil Aviation University of China in Tianjin.  According to the International Air Transport Association’s forecast, China will become the world’s largest civil aviation market by 2024-25, and the air passenger volume in the Chinese market is expected to reach 1.6 billion by 2037.   Li Xunlei, chief economist for the financial institution Zhongtai Securities, said in a report that about 1 billion Chinese people have never boarded a plane, which serves as strong evidence that the country’s current airports will not be able to meet demand in just a few years. China must step up its efforts to renovate existing facilities and build new airports, the report said.

Beijing Daxing International Airport

Let’s now take a quick look at what will be the newest airport in the world.  As you will see it’s expansive.

Given below shows the basic layout of the terminal with runways on either side to facilitate access to the gates.

The drawing below is a rendition of the internal design showing the various traffic patterns and elevations. 

If you saw any of the Summer Games from China, you will recognize the “bird cage” design.  This design has been adopted for the “super-structure” for the main terminal.

Once again, we see the smooth lines and basic traffic flow internal for the terminal.

You must admit, this is a striking design using the latest engineering and architectural concepts.  I hope to travel to China some day and I certainly will book the tickets to arrive at Daxing.


February 1, 2019

I always marvel at the pace of technology and how that technology fills a definite need for products only dreamt of previously.   We all have heard that “necessity is the mother of invention” well, I believe that to a tee.  We need it, we can’t find it, no one makes it, let’s invent it.  This is the way adults solve problems.  Every week technology improves our lives giving us labor-saving devices that “tomorrow” will become commonplace.  All electro-mechanical devices run on amperage provided by voltage impressed.   Many of these devices use battery power for portability.   Lithium-ion batteries seem to be the batteries of choice right now due to their ability to hold a charge and their ability to fast-charge.

Pioneer work with the lithium battery began in 1912 under G.N. Lewis but it was not until the early 1970s when the first non-rechargeable lithium batteries became commercially available. lithium is the lightest of all metals, has the greatest electrochemical potential and provides the largest energy density for weight.

The energy density of lithium-ion is typically twice that of the standard nickel-cadmium. This is a huge advantage recognized by engineers and scientists the world over.  There is potential for higher energy densities. The load characteristics are reasonably good and behave similarly to nickel-cadmium in terms of discharge. The high cell voltage of 3.6 volts allows battery pack designs with only one cell. Most of today’s mobile phones run on a single cell. A nickel-based pack would require three 1.2-volt cells connected in series.

Lithium-ion is a low maintenance battery, an advantage that most other chemistries cannot claim. There is no memory and no scheduled cycling is required to prolong the battery’s life. In addition, the self-discharge is less than half compared to nickel-cadmium, making lithium-ion well suited for modern fuel gauge applications. lithium-ion cells cause little harm when disposed.

If we look at advantages and disadvantages, we see the following:


  • High energy density – potential for yet higher capacities.
  • Does not need prolonged priming when new. One regular charge is all that’s needed.
  • Relatively low self-discharge – self-discharge is less than half that of nickel-based batteries.
  • Low Maintenance – no periodic discharge is needed; there is no memory.
  • Specialty cells can provide very high current to applications such as power tools.


  • Requires protection circuit to maintain voltage and current within safe limits.
  • Subject to aging, even if not in use – storage in a cool place at 40% charge reduces the aging effect.
  • Transportation restrictions – shipment of larger quantities may be subject to regulatory control. This restriction does not apply to personal carry-on batteries.
  • Expensive to manufacture – about 40 percent higher in cost than nickel-cadmium.
  • Not fully mature – metals and chemicals are changing on a continuing basis.

One amazing property of Li-Ion batteries is their ability to be formed.  Let’s take a look.

Researchers have just published documentation relative to a new technology that will definitely fill a need.


Researchers at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in Korea have developed an imprintable and bendable lithium-ion battery they claim is the world’s first, and could hasten the introduction of flexible smart phones that leverage flexible display technology, such as Samsung’s Youm flexible OLED.

Samsung first demonstrated this display technology at CES 2013 as the next step in the evolution of mobile-device displays. The battery could also potentially be used in other flexible devices that debuted at the show, such as a wristwatch and a tablet.

Ulsan researchers had help on the technology from Professor John A. Rogers of the University of Illinois, researchers Young-Gi Lee and Gwangman Kim of Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, and researcher Eunhae Gil of Kangwon National University. Rogers was also part of the team that developed a breakthrough in transient electronics, or electronics that dissolve inside the body.

The Korea JoongAng Daily newspaper first reported the story, citing the South Korea Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, which co-funded the research with the National Research Foundation of Korea.

The key to the flexible battery technology lies in nanomaterials that can be applied to any surface to create fluid-like polymer electrolytes that are solid, not liquid, according to Ulsan researchers. This is in contrast to typical device lithium-ion batteries, which use liquefied electrolytes that are put in square-shaped cases. Researchers say this also makes the flexible battery more stable and less prone to overheating.

“Conventional lithium-ion batteries that use liquefied electrolytes had problems with safety as the film that separates the electrolytes may melt under heat, in which case the positive and negative may come in contact, causing an explosion,” Lee told the Korean newspaper. “Because the new battery uses flexible but solid materials, and not liquids, it can be expected to show a much higher level of stability than conventional rechargeable batteries.”

This potential explosiveness of the materials in lithium-ion batteries — which in the past received attention because of exploding mobile devices — has been in the news again recently in the case of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which has had several instances of liquid leaking lithium-ion batteries. The problems have grounded Boeing’s next-generation jumbo jet until they are investigated and resolved.

This is a very short posting but one I felt would be of great interest to my readers.  New technology; i.e. cutting-edge stuff, etc. is fun to write about and possibly useful to learn.  Hope you enjoy this one.

Please send me your comments:  bobjengr@comcast.net.

Data used in this post come from the following sources: 1.) Industry Week and the 2.) International Trade Administration.  

Unless you have been living in a cave, you know the United States has, for the most part, lost much of its manufacturing base.  I personally think this is a travesty, but that’s just me.  Think about those items you purchase with some degree of regularity and the “MADE IN _________” tag you find prior to that purchase.  Consumer goods such as: electronics, textiles, shoes, clothing, not to mention commercial products such as machine tools, hand tools, medical equipment, etc have gone “overseas”.   Made in China is much more common than made in America.   If you don’t believe that, take a stroll through Wal-Mart or Toys-R-Us.  There is good news relative to individual states exporting to other countries. We are in the process of seeing “re-shoring” or a return to manufactured goods produced in our country also.  Industry Week published a fascinating article indicating that in 2013 our country exported $2.3 trillion in goods to other countries.   The top twenty-five recipients of those goods are as follows:



If we look at the percentages, we find the top five (5) are:

  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • China
  • Japan
  • Germany

The top ten (10) states exporting to other countries may be seen by the spreadsheet given as follows:

1.)    TEXAS  with $279.7 Billion

2.)  California with $168.1 Billion

3.)  Washington St with $81.9 Billion

4.)  Louisiana with $63.1 Billion

5.)  Michigan with $58.5 Billion

6.)  Ohi0 with $50.5 Billion

7.)  Georgia with $37.6 Billion

8.) Tennessee with $32.4 Billion

9.) North Carolina with $29.3 Billion

10.) South Carolina with $26.1 Billion

Let’s take a look at what each state contributes to the total $2.3 trillion dollar figure.

  • TEXAS: Texas merchandise exports increased 5.7%, growing from $264.7 billion to $279.7 billion.  Key merchandise export categories include: petroleum products; computer and electronic products; chemicals; machinery manufactures; and transportation equipment.
  • CALIFORNIA:  California merchandise exports increased 3.9%, growing from $161.9 billion to $168.1 billion. Key merchandise export categories include: computer and electronic products; transportation equipment; machinery manufactures; miscellaneous manufactures; and agricultural products.
  • WASHINGTON:   Washington merchandise exports increased 8.4%, growing from $75.6 billion to $81.9 billion.  Key merchandise export categories include: transportation equipment; agricultural products; petroleum products; computer and electronic products; and food and kindred products.
  • LOUISIANA:  Louisiana merchandise exports increased 0.3%, growing from $62.9 billion to $63.1 billion. Key merchandise export categories include: petroleum products; agricultural products; chemicals; food and kindred products; and machinery manufactures.
  • MICHIGAN:  Michigan merchandise exports increased 2.6% growing from $57.0 billion to $58.5 billion. Key merchandise export categories include: transportation equipment; machinery manufactures; chemicals; computer and electronic products; and primary metal manufactures.
  • OHIO:  Ohio merchandise exports increased 3.9%, growing from $48.6 billion to $50.5 billion. Key merchandise export categories include: transportation equipment; machinery manufactures; chemicals; computer and electronic products; and fabricated metal products.
  • GEORGIA: Georgia merchandise exports increased 4.2%, growing from $36.1 billion to $37.6 billion.  Key merchandise export categories include: transportation equipment; machinery manufactures; chemicals; paper; and food and kindred products.
  • TENNESSEE:  Tennessee merchandise exports increased 4%, growing from $31.1 billion to $32.4 billion.  Key merchandise export categories include: transportation equipment; chemicals; computer and electronic products; miscellaneous manufactures; and machinery manufactures.
  • NORTH CAROLINA:  North Carolina merchandise exports increased 1.6%, growing from $28.8 billion to $29.3 billion.  Key merchandise export categories include: chemicals; machinery manufactures; transportation equipment; computer and electronic products; and textiles.
  • SOUTH CAROLINA:   South Carolina merchandise exports increased 4%, growing from $25.1 billion to $26.1 billion.  Key merchandise export categories include: transportation equipment; machinery manufactures; chemicals; plastics; and paper.

Every $1.00 billion creates 5,000 jobs in our country with ninety-five percent (95%) of the potential consumers lying outside our borders.  I personally believe the work ethic demonstrated on a daily basis by men and women in our country is the best in the world.  It always amazes me that many people never take ALL of the vacation time they have available, consequently losing a considerable number of days that cannot be “rolled over” into the next year.  These days are simply lost, which is absolutely unique to our country.  Many Western European countries take their “summer sport” and “winter sport” no matter what.  I have dealt with companies in Germany, Italy, Austria, Holland and others that literally close down during August of each year.  Everyone dealing with them knows that and plans for that certainty.

We could see a huge improvement in unemployment IF just the FED would agree to “buy American”.  Can you imagine the boost in employment?  It would be astounding and I can tell you from experience, the quality of purchases would improve tremendously.

I would love to get your thoughts on this topic.  Please drop me an e-mail and let me know what you think.


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