Total MoldMaking Business Index for July 2013
Our latest survey of the North American moldmaking industry indicates that overall activity levels held mostly steady again in July when compared with the previous month. The MoldMaking Business Index for July 2013 is 49.6 (a value less than 50.0 indicates a decrease in business levels for the month). The latest index value is a 0.5-point decrease from the June value of 50.1, and it is a 3.7-point decrease from the 53.3 value posted in July 2012.
Our total Index dipped below the breakeven level in July when compared with the previous month, but some of the underlying indicators suggest that conditions were best described as flat-to-better. And we remain encouraged that the overall index has hovered around the 50-line through the first seven months of 2013. Many of the major indicators (i.e. the ISM Manufacturing Index) that measure overall manufacturing levels in the U.S. were gathering strength as the third quarter began. Demand for autos surged upward in June and July, and the recovery in the residential construction data is still robust.
As we progress through the third and fourth quarters of 2013, the momentum created by a steadily improving economy will become more obvious. Both consumers and businesses are becoming more confident. And the really good news is that the hijinks of policymakers in Washington are much less of a drag on the economy than they have been in the recent past.
Taking a closer look at the categories that comprise our Index, the New Orders component was exactly 50.0 in the latest month, which means that the level of new business was stable. New orders increased for six straight months prior to this, so a flat reading does not dampen the mood too much. The Production sub-index of 53.0 indicates that work levels increased for the seventh consecutive month. With new orders flat and production levels modestly higher we should expect a small decline in backlogs. And that’s what we got—the Backlogs sub-index slipped to 43.2 in July. The Employment component was 53.0, which means that moldmakers added new hires to their payrolls for the seventh straight month, and the rate of expansion is holding steady.
The prices received in the moldmaking sector strengthened again in July, as the Prices Received sub-index was 52.3. Unfortunately, the upward momentum in materials prices also clicked up a notch, as the Materials Prices sub-index came in at 64.6. Supplier Delivery Times continued their recent trend of gradual expansion. This component posted a 53.1 in July. Offshore orders remain weak with the Exports sub-index coming in at 45.2.
Using aluminum tooling instead of traditional tools steels reduces cycle time and costs, but requires up-front, open communications between moldmaker, molder, material supplier and hot runner manifold supplier.
Reducing changeover times will eliminate waste, moving a shop closer to becoming lean.
A Series of International Standards for Quality Management and Quality Assurance