The Surprising Key To Keeping The U.S. Expansion Going…

The Surprising Key To Keeping The U.S. Expansion Going…

Apr 2, 2018

“The Surprising Key To Keeping The U.S. Expansion Going: Manufacturing Innovation” By Marco Annunziata, Forbes  The current U.S. economic expansion is already one of the longest on record—it turned 104 (months) in February. The manufacturing sector holds the key to making it the longest. Manufacturing is currently seen as unglamorous, unloved, needing protection just to survive. I believe this view is profoundly misguided, and that it is in manufacturing that we will see the most powerful growth-enhancing technological transformation ahead. The U.S. economy has picked up speed, and the global economy with it. The IMF recently noted that we are enjoying the most broad-based synchronized upswing since 2010. The U.S. labor market keeps expanding at a robust pace and has created over 17 million jobs since the recovery started; the unemployment rate holds at a very low 4.1%, and strong economic activity keeps attracting more people into the labor force. Wage growth remains muted, however, with average hourly wages increasing at a modest 2.6% pace in the last twelve months. This is a problem. Stronger wage growth would give better support to household consumption, and it would make it easier to reduce income inequalities. Slow wage growth is disappointing, but it should not be too surprising. True, a tighter labor market should boost wages—I believe that it will, and that in the coming months we will see more robust wage pressures. But sustainable strong wage growth depends on productivity. Only when productivity rises at a robust pace can workers enjoy faster wage increases without compromising their firms’ competitiveness and market position. Productivity growth has been dismal of late. In the decade prior to the financial crisis, 1996-2005, U.S. labor productivity rose at an average pace of 3% per year. During the recovery, 2011-2017, it averaged a measly 0.7%–over four times slower. Most other advanced economies have suffered a similar fate. What I find most worrying is that manufacturing sector productivity has suffered an even more severe slowdown: from 4.8% to 0.3% a year. From the early 1990s to the onset of the global financial crisis, productivity growth in manufacturing outpaced the rest of the economy by a significant margin; now it is lagging behind....

U.S. Trading Partners, Businesses Say Tariffs Will Backfire

U.S. Trading Partners, Businesses Say Tariffs Will Backfire

Mar 12, 2018

By Lorne Cook & Joe McDonald, Associated Press, Manufacturing Business Technology BRUSSELS (AP) — The Trump administration’s decision to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel imports drew warnings Friday from businesses and U.S. trading partners that the measure could backfire, provoking a trade war without resolving the problems it’s intended to address. President Donald Trump said the tariffs, due to take effect in 15 days, are needed to protect U.S. workers. Businesses say the 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent levy on aluminum will jack up costs, raising prices for consumers and potentially putting people out of work. Trump has long singled out China as being unfair in its trade practices and for dumping cheap steel on the global markets, depressing prices. But experts say the new tariffs will in fact not affect China much, but rather hurt key allies like the European Union and South Korea. The move drew consternation outside the U.S. The Chinese government said it “firmly opposes” the move but gave no indication whether it might make good on threats to retaliate. “These measures could make a significant impact on the economic and cooperative relationship between Japan and the U.S., who are allies,” said Japan’s foreign minister, Taro Kono. The EU said it hoped to be exempt from the tariffs, like Canada and Mexico are, or that the issue might be solved in international arbitration at the World Trade Organization. If not, the EU vowed to retaliate. “We will have to protect our industry with rebalancing measures,” said Cecilia Malmstroem, the EU Trade Commissioner, who this week confirmed that EU states are finalizing a list of U.S. goods — from peanut butter to bourbon — to hit with retaliatory tariffs. The head of Eurofer, Europe’s main steel federation, said Trump’s reasons for slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum were an absurdity and that the move could cost tens of thousands of jobs across the continent. The tariffs would cost lost trade worth $2.6 billion a year for the EU and $1.1 billion for South Korea, according to Chad Bow, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. While that is not a lot for the economy...

Magna Puts a New Twist on Welding

Magna Puts a New Twist on Welding

Mar 9, 2018

Featured in Design-2-Part Magazine TROY, Mich.—Magna has put a new twist on joining thermoplastic materials in order to help automakers cut weight and costs: torsional welding. The torsional welding process, developed by Magna (www.magna.com) for automotive applications at its exteriors plant in Liberec, Czech Republic, presents a new way to join plastics. It features a high-speed twisting motion that creates enough friction-based heat to join a plastic bracket to a thermoplastic fascia. The innovative technology achieves an approximate 10 percent weight reduction because it allows thinner materials to be joined, which, in turn, reduces material costs. Torsional welding is currently used to make the front fascia of the 2017 Skoda Octavia, and it has potential for other applications where materials of similar composition need to be joined.   There may also be uses for torsional welding with the increase of advanced driver assistance systems and the development of self-driving cars. The trend will be for automotive fascias to become heavier with the increase in autonomous features, due to the addition of sensors. With torsional welding, it’s now possible to reduce weight on the outer skin and brackets so more sensors can be added without impacting the overall weight of the vehicle. The Society of Plastics Engineers’ Detroit Chapter recognized Magna’s torsional welding process with an innovation award at its TPO conference last fall in Troy, Michigan. “We seek every opportunity, from design and materials to enabling technologies, to help customers meet their lightweighting goals,” said Magna Exteriors President Grahame Burrow, in a press release. “We appreciate this recognition from SPE and look forward to expanding the use of this innovative process.”...

Which Technologies Should Come First, Second, Third?

Which Technologies Should Come First, Second, Third?

Mar 7, 2018

By Ken Koenemann – VP of Supply Chain and Technologies, TBM Consulting Group Featured on Advancedmanufacturing.org Analytics solutions. The industrial Internet of Things. Robotics. Automation. Manufacturers looking for tech solutions that will help them control costs and gain a competitive edge have many great options. In fact, deciding what type of technology to invest in and why can seem overwhelming. Could you get a better ROI through automation and improved productivity, or through using analytics to identify inefficiencies and streamline processes? To glean the most from almost any new technology, make sure you have: A clear understanding of what’s happening in your business A vision for what you want the technology to do and why The right process structure and skill sets along with team alignment. Before investing in any new technology, ask these questions: What are the key drivers of operational and financial performance for your business? Do you clearly understand performance levels, reasons for misses and have processes for correcting them? Many manufacturers regularly fall short of their strategic goals, and it’s a good bet most of them also struggle with these questions. A lack of data usually isn’t the issue. Most manufacturing environments usually include some combination of ERP, CRM, CMMS, EMS and financial reporting systems and spreadsheets. The problem is the long time it takes to gather and analyze key performance indicators from the various sources. When that’s the case, predictive technology is invaluable and probably your best next investment: It will help you better understand what’s happening in your business and why to keep strategic goals on track, and it will position you to apply new technologies more effectively moving forward. Many cloud-based predictive solutions are also more versatile and relatively inexpensive and easy to implement compared with, say, a behind-the-firewall solution. Moreover, a well-executed solution can delivery similar types of insights quicker due to a shorter implementation timeline. Predictive solutions are helpful because they can help you improve understanding of most facets of your operations, from sales trends to reasons for downtime. One manufacturer with which TBM is familiar was regularly losing a day’s worth of production every few months, which added up to several hundred thousand dollars...

Manufacturing in U.S. Expands at Fastest Pace Since…

Manufacturing in U.S. Expands at Fastest Pace Since…

Mar 1, 2018

“Manufacturing in U.S. Expands at Fastest Pace Since May 2004” By Katia Dmitrieva, Bloomberg Markets   U.S. factories expanded in February at the fastest rate since May 2004, indicating sustained strength in manufacturing as demand remains solid, figures from the Institute for Supply Management showed Thursday. HIGHLIGHTS OF ISM MANUFACTURING (FEBRUARY) Factory index climbed to 60.8 (est. 58.7) from 59.1 in prior month; readings above 50 indicate expansion Employment gauge jumped to a four-month high of 59.7 from 54.2 Measure of new orders eased to 64.2 from 65.4; order backlogs climbed to 59.8 from 56.2 Prices-paid index rose to 74.2, the highest since May 2011, from 72.7 Key Takeaways The latest advance extends a series of healthy readings in the survey-based measure of manufacturing that’s being fueled by improving global economies and firm business investment. It also comes on the heels of a late-year pickup in consumer spending, which advanced in the fourth quarter at the fastest pace in more than a year. The purchasing managers group’s gauge of export orders was the strongest since April 2011. While orders and production were a touch weaker in February than the prior month, the readings are nonetheless robust. The report showed factories are having some difficulty keeping up with demand. The ISM’s index of order backlogs climbed to a more than 13-year high. Delivery times also lengthened in February, with a measure reaching the second-highest level since 2010. That may help explain the rise in the group’s gauge of manufacturing employment, which posted its largest month-over-month gain in more than two years. “All indications are that demand will continue to grow,” Timothy Fiore, chairman of ISM’s factory survey committee, said on a conference call with reporters. “There are a number of issues going on here in the supply chain that’s pushing things up. The net result is there are problems in inventories, which are growing.” In addition to firmer overseas and domestic sales, corporate optimism is getting a lift from the recent tax-cut law and reduced regulation. The ISM report showed 15 of 18 manufacturing industries indicated growth last month, led by printing, primary metals and machinery. What ISM Respondents Said CapEx purchase deliveries are moving...