Survey Says

By: Christina M. Fuges 30. September 2016


Prime Advantage, a buying consortium for midsized manufacturers, recently released findings of its annual purchasing and manufacturing survey, which reveals financial projections and top procurement insights of more than 750 U.S. manufacturing companies. Overall, healthy revenue, spending and hiring data for the rest of 2016 and the year ahead were reported.

Specifically, results reveal continued optimism about revenues and employment, increasing demand for flexibility and responsiveness in supply chains and confidence in growing revenues extending into 2017. 

Here are some other key findings:

- The challenges of filling open positions remains a key barrier to growth for nearly half of Prime Advantage manufacturers

- 97 percent of manufacturers’ project revenues will increase or stay at the same level in the next 12 months

- 95 percent of the procurement professionals responding to the survey said that raw materials price pressures were their top cost pressure concern

- 89 percent of manufacturers expect their headcount to grow or remain the same through the end of the year

- Savings on components in certain areas are eluding the majority of manufacturers because of time and resource constraints in engineering departments

According to the Prime Advantgae, the survey shows that 2017 will start out strong for manufacturing, with 97 percent expecting revenue to either increase or stay the same in the next 12 months. Overall revenue expectations for the remainder of 2016 find 84 percent expecting to improve upon or match 2015. Among the 16 percent expecting this year’s revenues to come in under the previous year, the overwhelming reason is decreased customer demand. Among the respondents predicting growth, 58 percent indicated that new products are driving the increase. Bringing on new customers is the second most significant reason for increasing revenues, at 23 percent.

Investing in business operations has been a priority for 2016, as 86 percent of manufacturers are at or above plan for capital expenditures. Most respondents expect to continue spending; as 81 percent believe capital spending will increase or remain at current levels for the balance of the year. 

For the third year in a row, respondents selected a lack of qualified workers as the biggest external barrier to business growth, listed by 48 percent.

An unusual political environment is creating anxiety, as 42 percent of manufacturers responded that uncertainty in the federal elections could stymie growth. Concern over legislative and regulatory pressures continues to crack the top three barriers at 35 percent, although it has become less acute each of the last three years.

Fifty-seven percent of strated 2016 with plans to hire, and almost all of these have already followed through on those intentions, as 51 percent have increased headcounts. More good employment news is to come as 40 percent of participants said they plan to hire before year’s end. Click here for full report.


Throwback Thursday: IMTS Then and Now

By: Christina M. Fuges 22. September 2016


IMTS 2016 just closed its doors last Saturday, so I thought this Throwback Thursday I would revisit what we discovered at IMTS 2014 and then use this slideshow to highlight what we saw this year.

During IMTS 2014 moldmakers were looking for technology to optimize their processes and to help them get a part off the machine with a bench-free finish. They want to save time and money without sacrificing quality. Two main areas of interest for moldmakers were automation and additive manufacturing. These two areas definitely grew in two years. Here is a quick look at 2014 technology



By: Christina M. Fuges 21. September 2016

Last week at IMTS--the largest manufacturing event in North America--I was given the privilege of speaking about our industry in a larger than life way ... on a Jumbo Cam as part of IMTStv Shop Talk and IMTStv Today. I was hoping to do my part--in some small way--to shed light on a few of the strenghs of moldmaking as well as a few of the challenges the industry faces.  I hope you agree.

IMTStv set for Shop Talk.

IMTStv Today with Russ Wilcutt and Chris Felix of Production Machining sharing an IMTS recap.

Since 2005 moldmaking has seen consecutive growth so it has proven to be an established, consistent and safe industry. Mold shops are investing, and we are seeing more technology suppliers focusing on this market with hardware and software designed specifically for moldmaking. Also, Census Bureau data shows that the U.S. mold manufacturing is an $11 billion market. And in terms of capital spending, if we look just at machinery and equipment, the data shows that last year alone the market invested over $285 million in equipment. This means that mold manufacturing is a great place to market and sell technology and equipment.

Mold builders I have spoken to across market segments are saying that business remains “full and steady,” "not quite to 100-percent capacity, but nicely manageable". And, as they look to the third and fourth quarters, the automotive segment seems steady, but they are feeling a little apprehension from the appliance and consumer goods markets.

Outside of data, MMT has shared the stories of many mold manufacturers over the past few years that have expanded facilities and diversified their workload. They are also realizing the real potential of five-axis machining, achieving true lights-out manufacturing, building automation cells, experimenting with additive manufacturing and getting on board with Industry 4.0. All of this shows the preparedness of this industry, in the good times and the rough times.

Cardinal Manufacturing Continues to Inspire

By: Christina M. Fuges 16. September 2016

Cardinal Manufacturing is sharing booth space with us this week in the West Hall at IMTS to promote the continuing growth of its innovative high school manufacturing program. They also opened their doors last month to some molders and mold builders, and two MMT editorial advisory board members were in the room, Andy Baker of Byrne Tool & Design and Mike Walter of MET2Plastics

MAPP (Manufacturers Association of Plastic Processors) held the plant tour event at Eleva Strum High School to show members how the program works and inspire them to help develop their own in their local areas.

Principal Corey Kulig and Cardinal Mfg Director Craig Cegielski helped give guests a tour of the facility and then lead discussions on education support, and student and parent perspectives.

Roger Williams of Royer Corporation was then video conferenced in to show how his company helped the Madison Indiana school district set up a similar program to Cardinal, called Cub Manufacturing.

Click here to see images of the event.


Putting in the Mileage

By: Christina M. Fuges 13. September 2016

                                                Autodesk is showing enhancements to its PowerShape modelling and reverse engineering software that are designed to help users complete complex designs more quickly and more easily. " />                                                 Okamoto is well-suited for grinding large components in demanding mold and die production applications. " />                         Marposs Mida Diamond line of machine tool touch probes and tool setters controls the entire production process in all of its phases, from workpiece setup and inspection to tool presetting and control. " /> Omax is showing off its latest model of the MicroMax abrasive waterjet featuring accuracy-enhancing upgrades and expanded accessory compatibility. " />                         Schunk is demonstrating its Rota NCX, a power lathe chuck with quick jaw-change system. " /> DMG MORI is running its hybrid additive manufacturing machine, the Lasertec 65 3D. " /> Renishaw RenAM 500M additive manufacturing system builds metallic components directly from CAD using metal powder-bed fusion technology. " />                         Sodick 's first hybrid machining center combines DMLS technology with high-speed milling to produce finished components. " />                         Methods 3D booth." />                                                 Trumpf’s TruLaser Robot 5020 provides an easy, cost-effective entry into laser welding for applications ranging from sheet metal parts to bent profiles as well as 3D geometries commonly produced on milling centers. " />

IMTS 2016 is the 31st edition of the premier manufacturing technology show in North America. More than 2,000 exhibiting companies are occupying 1.3 million net square feet of exhibit space at the McCormick Place complex in Chicago. Cyndi and I are here this week for the six-day event to get the lowdown on the products, equipment and services that may have an impact on your current moldmaking operations. Here is a sampling of what we have seen so far.


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