The Global Forecasting & Marketing Conference ended on a high note with positive signs ahead for 2015. With a packed agenda, attendees heard about the forecasts for the upcoming year that will affect their business planning, networked with other industry executives, and learned sales and marketing tactics to jumpstart success.  

To begin the conference, Dr. Marc Raibert delivered a keynote address about the high-tech robots that Boston Dynamics creates to mimic human and animal form and response. Many of his innovative robots are being designed to endure the roughest terrain and the harshest conditions for applications such as assisting military personnel and stabilizing nuclear disasters. Boston Dynamics is currently looking at additive technology for building internal structures that are hard to machine using traditional methods.

Oxford’s perspective on the world economy, presented by Adrian Cooper, is that the global community has taken two steps forward and one step back. The global outlook is for a mere 2.6 percent growth in global GDP in 2014 and 2.9 percent in 2015. However, the U.S. will lead the way with 3.1 percent growth in GDP in 2015. Oxford forecasts manufacturing technology orders in the U.S. to rise modestly in 2015 and marginally in 2016. Customer markets that look the most promising are the auto and aerospace industries. 

Laurie Harbour presented the reasons the automotive industry continues to grow, although manufacturing is very flat. Today’s customers demand high customization. Part of the great success in the U.S. automotive industry comes from the fact that manufacturers have managed to incorporate a high mix into production. Other automotive trends include an uptick in foreign investment in North America because of high production costs abroad, particularly in China, and those investments have mainly been in the southern states and in Mexico.

Focusing on consumer tech, Shawn DuBravac shared his view that although the industry’s share of consumer spending as a portion of durable goods continues to slip, the consumer technology expectations are trending higher compared to consumer expectations as a whole. He believes that consumer electronics will continue to see a rise in its total U.S. shipment revenues in 2015, predicting a growth of 1.1 percent.  

Tanya Bodell’s presentation focused on the shale revolution. She calls shale a “game changer” for the United States that is driving capital expenditures and manufacturing in the energy industry. As the country’s new source for natural gas and oil, shale will have a big impact on growth because every aspect of the supply chain will require more equipment to convert new sources into sales. 

Gardner Research’s annual Capital Spending Survey, presented by Steve Kline Jr., forecasts that North American machine tool consumption will rise 24.4 percent in 2015, and the U.S. alone is forecasted to rise 37 percent. If this proves to be correct, the U.S. could become the number one machine tool consumer in the world. The biggest trends that Kline saw in the capital spending responses was that customers seem to prefer turning over milling, vertical machines over horizontal and smaller over larger machines.

The aviation perspective was presented by Mike Warner of Boeing who discussed their plans and actions to meet the demands of the projected six billion airplane passengers that are expected by 2030. With a current backlog of 8 years, Boeing is pushing harder than ever to increase production and is scheduled to complete 720 deliveries this year. This is a 30 percent increase since 2012. With fuel being the biggest operating cost in an industry with very little margins, new airplanes can save carriers 20 percent on their fuel costs, which are a huge driver for many of these orders.

Attendees also heard from sales and marketing experts who spoke on a variety of topics, including: how to manage individuals’ personalities and place them in positions to sell effectively; how to increase productivity and efficiency in the back office by automating internal processes; and how to manufacture customers using process management to create valuable customers to meet growth goals.

If you attended the conference this year, full session descriptions are available for download in the GFMC mobile app and at If you missed the conference, you can still purchase the content and the additional webinars at

? Mark your calendar for GFMC 2015 to be held Oct. 13-15 in Cleveland, Ohio.