Highlights from Day 1 at The MFG Meeting

The MFG Meeting, a gathering of hundreds of manufacturing leaders opened today at the Hilton Waikoloa Village in Waikoloa, Hawaii.

The MFG Meeting, a gathering of hundreds of manufacturing leaders opened today at the Hilton Waikoloa Village in Waikoloa, Hawaii. The joining of AMT (The Association For Manufacturing Technology), NTMA (National Tooling & Machining Association) and PMA (Precision Metalforming Association) for The MFG Meeting links the entire manufacturing chain, from OEM's to distribution to end-user manufacturers, and provides the forum for uniquely collaborative conversations on the most relevant topics affecting manufacturing today.

General Assembly Session One: 100 Years of Innovation and Success
Roland Martel - ITW Executive Vice President, Automotive, Appliance and Industrial
The more than 600 manufacturing leaders attending The MFG Meeting learned valuable lessons from ITW which has celebrated over 100 years of success by continually changing to keep up with its markets. The entrepreneurial-spirited company fosters an atmosphere in which innovation in how a product is made is just as important as the product itself.

Under Martel’s leadership, the division has used the 80/20 rule as a business redesign tool to simplify the business structure. In 2008/2009 he and his team actually decided where not to focus. They devoted all of their resources to the automobile manufacturers where the greatest opportunity existed. He explained that this took tremendous discipline, but has resulted in the company gaining a position as a global supplier to the industry.

Key strategies include developing patentable products that solve a customer problem and will be used in volume, designing and producing locally wherever automobiles are assembled, and investing in manufacturing technology to be able to deliver at a cost that is not prohibitive to the customer.

General Assembly Session Two:  Map Your Market for 2013
John Walker, Chairman, Oxford Economics
Ken Mayland, President, Clearview Economics
The MFG Meeting participants heard from both Walker and Mayland that they do not expect the U.S. economy to sink into recession, and that manufacturing is positioned to remain strong. They also both believe North America will become energy self-sufficient in coming years.

Walker said that in 2013 the world economy looks better than it did in 2012 with Japan recovering from recession, the Eurozone looking more secure and China’s economy stabilizing. The middle class is growing in other countries so those that were once only producers are now poised to consume.

He expressed optimism for the U.S. economy and manufacturing pointing out that housing has turned the corner and can now grow, indebtedness has gone down in the consumer and financial sectors, and manufacturing is very competitive.

Walker told the group that the uncertainty lies in sequestration. He does not believe that a full sequester would derail the economy, but would certainly slow it.

Uncertainty was a theme to which Mayland also turned. He attributed the slow finish for the general economy and manufacturing in 2012 and the slow start to 2013 in large part to fiscal uncertainty and concerns over the Eurozone.

He noted that the reality of higher personal taxes and the certainty of reduced federal spending growth will both be drags on the U.S. economy, but expects that conditions will improve in the second half of 2013 as these blows are absorbed.