NAFTA renegotiation must be to strengthen US…

NAFTA renegotiation must be to strengthen US…

Dec 7, 2017

“NAFTA renegotiation must be to strengthen US manufacturing competitiveness” By Steve Handschuh and Cody Lusk, The Hill Some might assume that, from an automotive industry perspective, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a “Michigan automaker issue.” But in fact, the positive impacts of NAFTA in the automotive industry touch every state — and just about every neighborhood — in the U.S. Motor vehicle parts manufacturing facilities are located across the country and directly employ more than 871,000 Americans. Of course, many are in or near Michigan, but tens of thousands of motor vehicle parts manufacturing jobs are in states like Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Illinois. Nearly 32,000 motor vehicle parts manufacturing jobs are in California — and that number does not include the fast-growing automotive technology industry that has swept through Silicon Valley and beyond. Just think about automated and autonomous vehicles, smart cities and grid capabilities enabled by vehicle-to-infrastructure communications and vehicle-to-vehicle communications — these current and emerging technologies are motor vehicle parts revolutionizing how we use motor vehicles. NAFTA has made these innovations and job growth possible. Americans learn about and access these incredible technologies in new cars at their neighborhood auto dealership. Last year, 16,708 auto dealers operated in every corner of the United States, providing 1,131,900 well-paid American jobs ranging from supervisors to salespeople to technicians, all while selling a record 17.4 million light vehicles. That’s 2 million more vehicles than were sold the year before NAFTA went into effect. Dealers in all 50 states deliver an important service to their communities, offering a wide variety of competitively priced vehicles and developing strong relationships with their customers, an important factor in effectively executing safety recalls and ensuring that the vehicles on our roads are properly serviced. From parts manufacturers to community dealer showrooms, a free trade environment and an open supply chain have kept the cost of automobiles down while giving the consumer access to safety and other technologies that save lives, reduce emissions, ease traffic congestion and improve quality of life. That is why keeping NAFTA intact is so important and why we are part of the Driving American Jobs community of auto trade associations, manufacturers,...

Thor Industries CEO on the manufacturing boom in the U.S.

Thor Industries CEO on the manufacturing boom in the U.S.

Dec 4, 2017

  Featured on Fox Business Thor Industries CEO Bob Martin on the manufacturing industry and the company’s latest quarterly earnings report.         Watch the latest video at...

Making Manufacturing Great Again Would Add $530 Billion…

Making Manufacturing Great Again Would Add $530 Billion…

Nov 28, 2017

“Making Manufacturing Great Again Would Add $530 Billion to GDP” By Andrew Soergel, Economy Reporter, U.S. News  A new report suggests investments in today’s manufacturing operations could carry hundreds of billions of dollars in economic payoffs. The U.S. manufacturing sector has weathered a bumpy road over the course of the past two decades – but successfully righting the country’s industrial ship would mean an economic windfall of $530 billion, according to a new report from The McKinsey Global Institute. McKinsey put out a lengthy report last week profiling the past several years of U.S. manufacturing malaise – noting that only a few sectors, like “pharmaceuticals, electronics and aerospace” have emerged relatively unscathed. “Some industries staged a modest demand-driven recovery between 2010 and 2015. But growth in overall U.S. manufacturing output has been slowing for two decades, with little net increase during the most recent decade,” the report said. “Today there are roughly 25 percent fewer U.S. manufacturing firms and plants than there were in 1997, reflecting not only closures but also fewer manufacturing startups. Along the way, the sector has shed roughly one-third of its jobs.” The sector’s decline has been bad news for America’s international standing, as “low-cost contract manufacturers in locations such as Mexico, China, Vietnam and Bangladesh” gained market share. It’s also contributed to an erosion of the U.S. middle class, eaten away at economic growth and – along with a rise in automation – contributed to significant job losses. There were more than 5 million fewer manufacturing workers in the U.S. last month than there were 20 years prior in October 1997, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Smaller manufacturers, in particular, have suffered, while larger operations have in many cases managed to navigate the complicated international industrial waters. “Many Americans long for a return to the glory days of the 1960s and ’70s, when manufacturing jobs were the bedrock of the middle class and the United States led the world in industrial output,” the study said, in some ways reminiscent of President Donald Trump’s call to restore manufacturing’s prominent role in the economy. The report makes no reference to Trump or his call for a manufacturing renaissance. But...

Ford, Ekso team up for ‘bionic’ auto workers

Ford, Ekso team up for ‘bionic’ auto workers

Nov 15, 2017

By Nick Carey, Rueters The U.S. automaker said on Thursday that workers at two U.S. factories are testing upper-body exoskeletons developed by Richmond, California-based Ekso Bionics Holdings Inc (EKSO.O), which are designed to reduce injuries and increase productivity. The four EksoVests were paid for by the United Auto Workers union, which represents hourly workers at Ford, and the automaker plans tests for the exoskeleton in other regions including Europe and South America. The cost of the exoskeletons, which were developed as part of a partnership between Ford and Ekso, was undisclosed. The lightweight vest supports workers while they perform overhead tasks, providing lift assistance of up to 15 pounds (6.8 kg) per arm through a mechanical actuator that uses torque to take the stress off a worker’s shoulders. If you try one on, if feels like an empty backpack, but it enables you to hold a weight such as a heavy wrench straight out in front of you indefinitely and without strain. Ekso began by developing exoskeletons for the military and medical fields, but branched out in manufacturing and construction in 2013. Paul “Woody” Collins, 51, a worker at Ford’s Wayne plant, has been at the automaker for 23 years and has worn an EksoVest since May. He attaches bolts and parts to the undersides of Ford Focus and C-Max models, raising his hands above his head around 1 million times a year. Since wearing the vest, he has stopped having to put ice and heat on his neck three or four days a week and finds he has energy after work instead of feeling exhausted. Russ Angold, Ekso’s chief technology officer, said the aim is to get workers used to the technology before moving eventually into “powered” exoskeletons that “will help with lift and carry” work. “The idea is to demonstrate this isn’t science fiction, it’s real and it has real value,” Angold said on Thursday. “As we prove its value, we will be able to expand into other tasks.” The No. 2 U.S. automaker has been studying for years how to lower its workers’ injury rates and the exoskeleton venture is the latest step in that process. From 2005 to 2016, Ford...

3D Print, Peel, & Place

3D Print, Peel, & Place

Nov 13, 2017

By Jeff Reinke, ThomasNet A team at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT was recently able to create a 3D-printed part that can fold up on itself – allowing for a greater number of applications in delicate electronic environments. A key component in the development of this technology was the accidental discovery of new material for printing. Printable electronics are nothing new, but to expand the use of these components, researchers have been trying to find materials that are less susceptible to heat and water. They were also looking to find ways in which they can create precise angles when folding these printed pieces to ensure optimum compatibility. The new material was inadvertently discovered while CSAIL researchers were trying to develop ink that yielded greater material flexibility. What they ended up finding was a material that let them build joints that would expand enough to fold a printed device in half when exposed to ultraviolet light. The new printing material or ink expands after it solidifies, whereas most comparable materials contract. This unusual property allows for the part to form joints or creases for changing its shape after it has been created. This material discovery offers opportunities in both the near and longer term.  First, this ability to construct 3D-printable electronics with foldable shapes could expand the production of customized sensors, displays, and transmission devices. Over the longer term, more complex electronics could become a reality, including electromechanical and power-assisted components, as well as end-products for industrial...