Sunday, July 29, 2012

Trade and Money

Trade is the exchange of goods and services, buying and selling. Coins were invented when overseas trading began and merchants used weights of precious metals, such as silver, to buy and sell. The world today survives on trade. Few countries are self-sufficient so they sell what they have to raise money to buy what they need. Products are visible items such as food or automobiles, or 'invisible' items such as the labor or manufacturing expertise that makes a product, or a financial service, such as insurance. In international trade today little actual money changes hands, as transactions take place on a paper or over the telephone and are managed using computer systems.
Money is a recognized form of payment. Today units of money are represented by notes and coins, but they have taken many other forms. Other forms of money include copper rings, salt, beads, stone dishes, cocoa beans and axes. When the first coins were issued, it was the weight that determined the value. At first paper money was simply a handwritten receipt, but later receipts of fixed values were issued by governments. Markets are still at the heart of communities all over the world. Every day people travel to the village markets to buy and sell, to meet friends and exchange news.
Early people could make, find, or grow most of the things they needed for every day life, but as civilization developed and communities grew, people began to need more things. Craftsmen, such a potters or weapon-makers, developed business. In the middle ages people did not use money. But bartered or exchanged items they judged to be of equal value or worth a quantity or wood, or food, an ax, or a day's labor. Today we calculate the value of something in terms of units of money, but the value of something may not be fixed, and haggling over prices is still very much part of buying things in markets the world over. Trade centers have traditionally grown up in places where transportation is good and there is no shortage of materials, goods or labor.
The goods and services that a country sells abroad are its exports, and the goods and services that it buys in are its imports. Imports and exports are compared to calculate a balance of payment between two countries. If one country exports more to another country than it Imports from it, it is said to have a trade surplus. If it imports more than it exports, that is called a trade deficit.
The world as we know it today has been shaped by trade. The first so-called explorers were in fact traders sent on missions to find new trade routes, markets, and products.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Facts About the Natural Gas Industry

Every time we turn on a washing machine or stove, or check the water heater to make sure the temperature is set, we probably don't give thought to what powers the things that bring convenience to our lives. Many homeowners may think electricity runs the show, but for many it is natural gas that keeps the lights glowing and the fires burning.
Quick Facts About the Industry
  • Refined, it burns cleanly, and is mined from the ground through a process called "fracking." Here rock layers in the earth are fractured to release the gas for extraction.

  • According to the Natural Gas Caucus, natural gas accounts for powering nearly a quarter of the electricity and power vehicles in the United States. The International Energy Agency reports that natural gas represents about twenty-two percent of global energy in use.

  • Natural gas is one of the most versatile power resources in the world, and produces less emissions than other fuels.

  • Pacific Gas and Electric Company reports that of the natural gas used annually, the United States and Russia combined use roughly half.
Top Exporters and Importers
Each year, over seven hundred billion cubic meters of this fuel are exported around the world. The World Factbook currently lists the following countries as the lead exporters:
  • Russia - Russia is home to some of the largest reserves in the world. A good percentage of their output is sent to Europe to power heat and electricity.

  • Canada - The United States is perhaps Canada's largest customer when it comes to this resource, as nearly all of the US's natural gas imports come from their northern neighbors.

  • Norway - Norway's major partners in this trade include Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Belgium. Sales over the last two decades have more than doubled, according to the Norweigan Petroleum Directorate.

  • Algeria - Algeria exports almost exclusively petroleum and gas. The United States, Spain, and Canada rank among their top trade partners.

  • Qatar - The bulk of Qatar's national revenues comes from sales of gas extracted from their reserves. Japan and Korea rank among their largest trade partners.
The CIA World Factbook lists the United States, Germany, Japan, Italy and France among the top importers of this resource. Collectively, they take in over four hundred billion cubic meters annually.
Challenges in the Industry
While this fuel is considered a cleaner burning fuel than most resources, environmentalists are concerning that the method of extracting this resource - fracking - may do more harm than good in the future. Researchers from Cornell University have proposed that in the next twenty years, methane released during fracking into the atmosphere could contribute to problems associated with global warming. Some have even contributed pollution and earthquakes to this activity, and protests against fracking have increased in recent months. Experts in the natural gas industry, however, have dismissed such claims that extraction is endangering the planet.
As more states and countries approve of extraction, one may find the percentage of use growing in the future. Natural gas not only powers homes and plants, but some makes of automobiles and vehicles operate on this fuel. As the diversity of usage grows, so does the probability of this resource becoming a highly valuable export.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dear Chinese Workers - This Is No Time To Get Too Demanding

It seems that there are a number of labor movements around the world where workers feel they are working too hard for not enough money. They are upset because they believe the companies are making huge profits, and they want more. Of course humans always want more, so none of us are really surprised about this. Nevertheless in the summer of 2012 we've seen worker violence in several European Union countries such as Greece, Italy, and Spain as well as those involved in the Arab spring where workers angry at their social position and poverty levels took it out on their places of employment.
In South Africa police had to shoot violent protesters at a palladium mine, and in India managers of an automobile company were attacked. In China there have been protests even though they haven't made the Chinese media were people have been killed. In the US there have been workers who have trespassed, physically harmed managers and those replacing their jobs, as well as acts of sabotage. It might be wise for the workers of the world to realize that if they get too demanding they will all be replaced by robots. That day is coming, and it's coming fast to a country near you.
There was an interesting article in the New York Times on Sunday August 19, 2012 titled; "Skilled Work, Without the Worker - New Wave of Deft Robots Is Changing Global Industry," By John Markoff which discussed the "iEconomy and Artificial Competence" which goes a long as to explaining the future of manufacturing. Perhaps in the future angry mobs or unemployed workers might storm the factories, setting fire to the assembly line manned by only robots, only it won't be in a Science Fiction flick, it will be in real life, and we will be watching it on the Nightly News.
Whereas, it is true that the robotics will take over the jobs in the first world nations first due to the high cost of labor and the better chances for return on investment for sophisticated robotic equipment, it will also affect those workers in China because corporations and first world nation that are engaged in manufacturing will not ship those jobs to China because it isn't worth the problems associated with labor strikes, violence, or an entire factory being burned down.
Therefore, a message to the Chinese worker might be; "this is no time to get too demanding," and of course they need to be thinking there as well as the labor unions here in our own country. As robots become less expensive, more proficient, and better able to make all of the products or do all the services that we need there will be fewer opportunities for demanding workers to hijack the flows and efficiencies of modern-day corporations. Please consider all this and think on it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

3 Benefits of Climate Controlled Containers

When shipping perishable goods, few technologies are as valuable as climate controlled containers. Using refrigerated freight containers can help you preserve your time-sensitive goods during shipment or storage, allowing you to save on costs due to goods lost or damaged during shipping. This specialized technology guarantees your perishable imports and exports sustain the omnipresent hazards associated with long-distance freight travel. Here are a few of the primary benefits to using this type of container.
1. Convenient for Shipping or Storing Perishable Goods
One of the biggest advantages of using a container as opposed to a trailer is that it can double as a storage solution, in addition to protecting your goods during shipment. After placing the order for your container, it will be easily delivered on a flat-bed or roller-bed trailer. These containers can be shipped on any freight carrier, and depending on the size used, can be stacked up to three units high. Depending on the size used, you can achieve up to ten different temperatures ranges with multiple containers, all on the same flatbed trailer. With capacities ranging from 30 to 120 cubic feet, you are guaranteed to find the perfect container, or combination of containers, to preserve your goods in any climactic condition.
The refrigeration unit on each container plugs easily into any standard wall socket, allowing you to store and preserve your goods indefinitely, whether in your warehouse or in your driveway. Additionally, most units host batteries than can hold a charge for up to 72 hours, and recharge in as little as four hours, making this the perfect tool for transporting goods at highly specific temperatures during each component of the supply chain.
2. Temperature, Humidity, and Pest Control
The most obvious benefit to using a refrigeration enabled container is its ability to regulate the interior conditions of the container, despite the exterior climate. These containers can maintain temperatures as low as twenty degrees to over one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Some goods, such as furniture, wood, or cigars tend to swell and shrink as humidity levels fluctuate. This can cause certain fibers to decompose rapidly. All controls for the heating and cooling unit are placed on the exterior of the container, so the warehouse attendant or driver never has to disturb its pristine interior atmosphere.
High levels of humidity, warm temperatures, and still air create the perfect conditions for mold, mildew, and fungi growth. In addition to temperature controls, each unit also has a fan unit that circulates air inside the container. This makes it virtually impossible for your goods to become infested with any type of bacterial or fungal pest.
3. Safer Loading and Unloading
A final benefit to these specialized shipping containers is that it is far easier to load and unload for the simple reason that they can be placed directly on the ground. As compared to a trailer, which requires the use of a ramp and dolly, this is much better at preventing accidental falls and spills of goods or workers.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Working With Air Freight Shipping Dimensions

Packing properly is the only way to ensure that your long-distance freight shipments arrive at their destinations on time and damage-free. Proper packaging does not have to be difficult, and simply requires a thorough understanding of your product's packaging requirements, the environment your cargo will go through during shipment, and the materials used to house it. Here are a few things you should know about working with air freight shipping dimensions.
Understand the Hazards
When your product is being transported, it will likely be carried through a wide variety of different environments. Whether from natural elements, or from lack of care when moving, hundreds of thousands of dollars of merchandise is deemed unusable when it arrives at its destination due to any number of accidents that occurred during shipment. For instance, a package can shift in a container, resulting in puncture or abrasion of the product or the packaging materials. Varying levels of temperature, humidity and atmospheric pressure is another likely hazard. Finally your goods may have been crushed if they were not stacked or handled properly.
Choose the Right Materials
In general, when shipping products of any degree of delicacy requires packaging the goods in an outer casing, and filling any empty space with 'dunnage' such as foam peanuts, bubble wrap, or Kraft paper to keep the product stationary inside the case, and provide greater compression strength to the case. Corrugated cardboard is the container of choice for most shipping operations since it is incredibly sturdy given its low cost.
When designing packaging, use the minimum amount of packaging material possible to safely house your product. Spend some time testing different types of packaging to see which provides the best protection from the above hazards. This not only lowers the cost of packaging, but also allows you to fit more units in each shipment, lowering your transportation costs dramatically.
Be Aware of the Different Stacking Configurations
When stacking cardboard cases on a pallet, be aware of the different forces involved with each stacking configuration. For instance, stacking in cases in single file columns can increase the compression strength of the cartons by as much as fifty percent. Using an interlocking stack method creates a more stable load, making it difficult for boxes to fall or tip, a common problem in the column method. Finally, avoid situations where your cases hang over the side of the pallet, as this can lead to greatly reduced compression strength, tears, punctures, and other shocks to the product.
What About Oversize Freight?
When you have particularly large items to ship that will not fit inside a standard freight container may need special packaging to protect the goods during transit. Shipping over-sized freight poses a particular problem in that it often takes a forklift or two to even package it. The test for over-sized goods is to pick up the package from both ends, if it sags at all, more reinforcement is needed before shipping the item.
By understanding the specific packaging requirements of your goods, you are guaranteed to keep them safe throughout even the lengthiest routes to the most remote locations.