Manufacturers expanding at fastest pace in three years…

Manufacturers expanding at fastest pace in three years…

Apr 25, 2018

“Manufacturers expanding at fastest pace in three years, flash PMI data show” By Jeffry Bartash, MarketWatch U.S. economy is speeding up again, but inflation is warming up too, IHS Markit finds The numbers: American companies grew faster in April, especially manufacturers, in a reflection of a steadily expanding U.S. economy. But inflationary pressures increased as well. The flash IHS Markit U.S. manufacturing PMI climbed to 56.5 this month from 55.5 and touched a three-and-a-half-year high. Readings over 50 indicate expansion. A similar survey of service-oriented businesses that employ most Americans also rose. It edged up to 54.4 from 54. A flash reading is typically based on approximately 85%–90% of responses each month. At the same time, the survey showed the cost of raw or partly finished materials increased at the fastest pace in almost five years. Firms said the recently announced White House tariffs on steel as well as a large basket of Chinese goods were partly to blame. What happened: Businesses boosted production in April to match an increase in new orders. Companies also acted more aggressively to secure materials from suppliers because they are taking longer to deliver them. That suggests companies are running into bottlenecks, a potential hurdle for the economy if the situation gets worse. Tight supplies also mean higher prices — aka inflation. Even with new orders increasing, companies eased back on hiring. They focused more on improving efficiency — no surprise given a growing shortage of skilled labor. Big picture: The economy is ramping up for a strong spring, but shortages of skilled labor, rising inflation and the threat of widespread tariffs could put a cap on U.S. growth despite recent tax cuts and higher federal spending. Higher inflation could also spur the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more aggressively, another potential drag on faster U.S. growth. What are they saying?: “After a relatively disappointing start to the year, the second quarter should prove a lot more encouraging,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS...

Butler Technologies Plays Key Role in Printed Heater…

Butler Technologies Plays Key Role in Printed Heater…

Apr 19, 2018

“Butler Technologies Plays Key Role in Printed Heater Technology for U.S. Olympic Team” By Mark Shortt, Design-2-Part Magazine Butler Technologies, Inc., a specialist in user interface design and printed electronics, has made great strides during its 28-year history. Founded in 1990 by William Darney (now deceased), and Nadine Tripodi, Butler began as a brokerage firm that represented board manufacturers and screen printing companies, before venturing into manufacturing in 1993. Although the company has expanded and enhanced its offerings through the years, it never lost its original core manufacturing focus as a precision printer. “That’s what we started as, and that’s where our true passion lies, in printing, and especially in conductive inks,” said Butler Technologies President Nadine Tripodi, in a phone interview with D2P in February. “We are, in most cases, a contract printer, and on top of that, a solutions provider for those of our customers who aren’t really sure what they want or what the best approach to a print solution might be, especially in user interfaces and different types of graphic overlays.” Today, Butler is heavily focused on printed electronics, a growth market that has the company designing and manufacturing a range of wearable electronics, capacitive touch circuits, and flexible printed heaters, among other products. The company supports its customers’ product design and development goals through the efforts of an approximately 10-member engineering design team that continues to grow. “That’s one place that in the past couple of years, we’ve really added more people, and they’re good—they really are,” Tripodi said. She credited Butler’s head engineer, Mike Wagner, as being instrumental in the company’s ability to offer leading-edge printed electronics. “He is the one who really has a penchant for this and has helped tremendously in getting us more ingrained in the printed electronics world.” Butler’s engineering team offers expertise in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and project management. Its electrical engineers can work with customers to design and integrate custom printed electronics that meet specific size, shape, and functional requirements of a given project, the company said on its website. Sometimes, customers come to Butler with a drawing showing exactly what they need, and don’t make any modifications or alterations to it. But...

US Cutting Tool Consumption Up 7.4% for First 2 Months of…

US Cutting Tool Consumption Up 7.4% for First 2 Months of…

Apr 16, 2018

“US Cutting Tool Consumption Up 7.4% for First 2 Months of 2018” By USCTI, AMT – Press Release Featured on AdvancedManufacturing.org February US cutting tool consumption totaled $190.12 million according to the US Cutting Tool Institute (USCTI) and AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology. This total, as reported by companies participating in the Cutting Tool Market Report collaboration, was up 3.5% from January’s $183.61 million and up 8.7% when compared with the $174.98 million reported for February 2017. With a year-to-date total of $373.73 million, 2018 is up 7.4% when compared with 2017. These numbers and all data in this report are based on the totals reported by the companies participating in the CTMR program. The totals here represent the majority of the US market for cutting tools. “February cutting tool sales show that business continues to grow, gaining 3.5% over January, a very solid start to 2018,” said Philip Kurtz, President of USCTI. “Year-over-year sales posted a 7.4% gain and it certainly looks like the trend will continue. News of tariffs and pressure on raw material prices could have an effect, but with strong market momentum it is certainly not a given that much will change. March may or may not bring winds of change, but it will for sure bring spring.” “Orders for cutting tools have benefitted in recent months from a faster rate of business investment spending, due to recent tax cuts and renewed strength in key markets such as metals, mining and machinery,” said Mark Killion, Director of US Industry at Oxford Economics. The Cutting Tool Market Report is jointly compiled by AMT and USCTI, two trade associations representing the development, production and distribution of cutting tool technology and products. It provides a monthly statement on US manufacturers’ consumption of the primary consumable in the manufacturing process -– the cutting tool. Analysis of cutting tool consumption is a leading indicator of both upturns and downturns in US manufacturing activity, as it is a true measure of actual production levels. Historical data for the Cutting Tool Market Report is available dating back to January 2012. This collaboration of AMT and USCTI is the first step in the two associations working together...

Putting the ‘smart’ in manufacturing

Putting the ‘smart’ in manufacturing

Apr 11, 2018

By Silke Schmidt, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Phys.org “Although smartphones and tablets are ubiquitous, many of the companies that make our everyday consumer products still rely on paper trails and manually updated spreadsheets to keep track of their production processes and delivery schedules,” says Leyuan Shi, a professor of industrial and systems engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. That’s what she hopes to change with a research idea she first published almost two decades ago. During the past 16 years, Shi has visited more than 400 manufacturing companies in the United States, China, Europe, and Japan to personally observe their production processes. “And I have used that insight to develop tools that can make these processes run much more smoothly,” she says. These tools are based on the notion of a “digital twin,” or a computer representation of physical assets (machines and people) and processes that helps managers better operate the systems that connect them. Take, for example, a car manufacturing company with 15 different suppliers, each of which delivers a specific car part. As these parts arrive at the company, they are assembled by people who work in different departments, such as sheet metal cutting, heat treatment, welding, painting and so forth. The overall goal of this manufacturing system is to fill a set number of vehicle sales orders. That’s a classic example of a supply chain: a set of processes that link raw source materials to final consumer products. A company’s goal for making supply chain manufacturing more efficient might include decreasing production downtime due to delivery delays for required parts, and better adjusting to unpredictable events, such as rush orders, machine breakdowns, or defective parts. The technology Shi has developed helps managers meet these goals. With a database system, user software and equipment sensors, it creates a digital twin of what is physically happening at the supply facilities and shop floors. Managers can use that digital representation to visually track the global production progress in real time and adjust workflows as needed. The tool provides continuously updated start times for each assembly stage and constantly refined delivery times for the customers who ordered the cars. “That’s what we mean by smart manufacturing,” Shi says. The technology...

China Lists $50B of US Goods it Might Hit With 25 Percent…

China Lists $50B of US Goods it Might Hit With 25 Percent…

Apr 5, 2018

“China Lists $50B of US Goods it Might Hit With 25 Percent Tariff” By Joe McDonald, Associated Press Featured on Manufacturing.net China on Wednesday issued a $50 billion list of U.S. goods including soybeans and small aircraft for possible tariff hikes in an escalating and potentially damaging technology dispute with Washington. The country’s tax agency gave no date for the 25 percent increase to take effect and said that will depend on what President Donald Trump does about U.S. plans to raise duties on a similar amount of Chinese goods. Beijing’s list of 106 products included the biggest U.S. exports to China, reflecting its intense sensitivity to the dispute over American complaints that it pressures foreign companies to hand over technology. The clash reflects the tension between Trump’s promises to narrow a U.S. trade deficit with China that stood at $375.2 billion last year and the ruling Communist Party’s development ambitions. Regulators use access to China’s vast market as leverage to press foreign automakers and other companies to help create or improve industries and technology. A list the U.S. issued Tuesday of products subject to tariff hikes included aerospace, telecoms and machinery, striking at high-tech industries seen by China’s leaders as the key to its economic future. China said it would immediately challenge the U.S. move in the World Trade Organization. “It must be said, we have been forced into taking this action,” a deputy commerce minister, Wang Shouwen, said at a news conference. “Our action is restrained.” A deputy finance minister, Zhu Guangyao, appealed to Washington to “work in a constructive manner” and avoid hurting both countries. Zhu warned against expecting Beijing to back down. “Pressure from the outside will only urge and encourage the Chinese people to work even harder,” said Zhu at the news conference. Companies and economists have expressed concern improved global economic activity might sputter if other governments are prompted to raise their own import barriers. The dispute “may compel countries to pick sides,” said Weiliang Chang of Mizuho Bank in a report. “U.S. companies at this point would like to see robust communication between the US government and the Chinese government and serious negotiation on both sides, hopefully...