IMTS 2018 and the U.S. Machine Tool Industry today. Age has its privileges and having attended four NMTBA shows, the first in 1955 at the stockyard, and 26 IMTS shows, the first in 1972 at McCormick Place East when it opened its doors, and with a little more wisdom and years in the business the following is my perspective of IMTS 2018 and the U.S. machine tool industry.(more)
Smart manufacturing revenue will grow substantially during the next eight years, from $4.5 billion this year to $51.5 billion in 2026.(more)
Last month’s column title “Will this IMTS be one for the record books?” was clearly a rhetorical question that deserved an exclamation point rather than a question mark. By any measure, IMTS 2018 was the best ever – square footage, number of visitors, weight, number of exhibitors, value of equipment shown and, most importantly, business generated.(more)
With no time to spare before the deadline, the United States, Mexico, and Canada reached an agreement to replace the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement. The new deal, called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), is expected to be signed by the countries’ leaders in November.(more)
Our industry’s task of doing battle against the skills gap has been underway for decades now. Are we showing any signs of progress? Yes. I think that we can point to the recent Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS 2018 to find very concrete signs of progress.(more)
When most of us are asked what our greatest fear is, we usually rattle off one of the obvious choices: Heights. Public speaking. Flying. Creepy-crawly things. (Personally, I don’t much care for large flying insects. I don’t really like balloons either, but we can talk about that some other day. I’m not saying it makes sense.)(more)
A strong economy, dynamic advances in technology, and an energized manufacturing industry all came together to make IMTS 2018 the largest show of all time. The 32nd edition of the show drew a record registration of 129,415 people and featured 1,424,232 SF of exhibit space, made up of 2,123 booths and 2,563 exhibiting companies. IMTS 2018 ran from Sept. 10-15 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.(more)
Ethyl, a mechanical engineering graduate student, is composing a research paper for her Metrology for Precision Manufacturing class. As she writes about abrasive jet finishing, she struggles to find manufacturing technology papers on ambiguous terms like material removal, surface integrity, and polishing tools. Fortunately, she has downloaded AMT’s app that sits inside Microsoft Word.(more)
Concerns about relations with China, including tariffs, were priority topics at the latest Materials Processing Equipment Technical Advisory Committee meeting in Washington, D.C. In its August 7 meeting, the committee discussed Wassenaar Arrangement signatories and export controls surrounding additive manufacturing. The Wassenaar Arrangement is a voluntary export control group whose members exchange information regarding export control for conventional weapons and sensitive dual-use goods and technologies.(more)
The future manufacturing workforce convened at the Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS 2018, which saw a record-breaking 24,469 attendees. This was the 11th Student Summit, an event aimed at encouraging young people to pursue STEM education and careers in advanced manufacturing as a way of solving the industry’s skills gap.(more)
When people talk about robots these days, so many different images come to mind. Hollywood has their vision of our robotic future — from Wall-e to Terminator, the future is full of robots. In industrial automation there are many options: six-axis robots, SCARA robots, mobile robots, Cartesians, Delta robots, wall mounted, rail mounted, inverted and the list goes on. It is sometimes hard to know what makes sense.(more)
What do you think of when you think workholding? A vise, hydraulic clamps, vacuum plates, toe clamps, magnets, glue? Absolutely, but this is only half of the equation. What about the interface between these components and the machine tool? This is equally important, if not more important because it dictates the time it takes to change your workholding, which in turn has a significant impact on your spindle up-time. By investing in a quick-change pallet system (aka zero-point clamping system), most companies report a return on their investment in only a few months! From then on, it is pure cost savings year over year.(more)
Looking back to the beginning of March and the recent MFG Meeting in Miami, an increased clarity came to me sometime during and right after the meeting. The clarification was one for the question “WHY?” Why be involved in an association? Why spend the money to go to the MFG meeting? Yes, Miami is great in early March. Yes, the MFG Meeting speakers and sessions offer beneficial pieces of information for me to use. Yes, the food and music at the closing event are great. But there must be more to make the investment worth it. The answer is yes there is.(more)
The MTConnect Institute has been approved as an American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-accredited Standards Developer, elevating MTConnect’s status in the national and international standards communities. The move comes in response to increased interest in the MTConnect standard from industry and significant growth in membership in the MTConnect Institute. This accreditation indicates that the Institute’s standard development procedures adhere to ANSI’s Essential Requirements for due process, which include openness, coordination and harmonization, and compliance with normative policies and procedures, among others.(more)
New Year's resolutions aside, as marketers, we are always looking ahead, thinking about projects, sales, the next big idea, the next breakthrough innovation, the next event. We’re thinking about our to-do lists, about the reports we have to provide, about our return on investment. The point is, we're always planning, but are we always planning well?
Your list of priorities might include:
• Increase sales.
• Grow market share.
• Raise awareness.
• Build my brand.
• Generate leads at IMTS.
• Be seen as a thought leader.
Sounds good, right? These bullet points make for great slides and make us feel warm and fuzzy in our executive meetings. If we accomplish these things by the end of 2018, we’ll all be delighted.
The real questions are how do we get there and how do we know if we did?
While the priorities listed above are all desirable outcomes for any business, they are not specific enough to be fully understood by your team, nor are they stated in such a way that they can be measured. They also reflect a mix of business goals and supporting objectives, which are very different things and should be treated as such. In the simplest terms, business goals are big, they affect the entire organization and its place in the market. Objectives are smaller (marketing, finance, human resources, sales, support, etc.), but nonetheless essential to the outcome - big picture goals cannot be met unless the supporting objectives are achieved.
Think of it this way:
Goal - Future state of being.
Objective - Measurable target for achievement and step toward achieving your goal.
Business is a multi-faceted enterprise and requires input and effort from everyone - from human resources, service and operations to marketing, sales and finance - it’s a team effort. Each team needs to clearly understand its role in the process. A 30,000-ft. view of key roles might look something like this:
Marketing communications - Create a favorable climate for sales and other business functions.
Sales - Sell and generate revenue for the company.
Finance - Enable sales.
Support - Enrich customer relationships, solve problems.
Human Resources - Assemble and maintain talent and cultivate culture.
Operations - Convert material and labor into goods and services.
Very different things, right? If you look at it this way, you can easily see why the initial list of priorities is utterly meaningless without context.
As you dig into 2018, think about setting measurable objectives for your teams. Endeavor to provide clarity on their purpose and the role they play in achieving your bigger picture business goals. After the dust from IMTS settles and you settle in to report progress on your plans for the year, you’ll be glad you did.
Stay tuned for my next installment where I’ll suggest ways to ensure that you’re writing measurable objectives. (more)
SMARTFORCE - It's a jungle out there
Greg Jones, AMT Vice President - Smartforce Development
We also need to continue to change perceptions about careers in manufacturing. An excellent opportunity for that is coming at the Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS 2018,
Years ago while traveling on a business trip with a company executive, we had a lot of driving time that we used to discuss various topics, including business. The executive said something that caught me by surprise. He used the phrase, “trust, but verify.” At the time, I wasn’t really sure what to make of it. It seemed like a contradiction to me. In the context of the discussion, it seemed analogous to “trust, no one.”(more)
It’s no secret that manufacturing struggles with its public image and perception. It’s one of the top reasons why the industry has a hard time attracting young people to its workforce. While solutions to the problem are multifacted and wide-ranging, one way that individual companies can work to improve the industry’s image is by brushing up their efforts in digital marketing and PR.(more)
Money, time, training, risk of change, and lack of opportunity are all roadblocks that have historically stood in the way of advancement for machine shops of every size, shape, and certification level. It takes years for new tech to become widely adopted by the manufacturing industry.(more)
As more and more white papers are written these days about changes in workforce needs and the future of workforce development brought on by disruptions in technology (driven by Industry 4.0, smart manufacturing, etc.), we’re seeing more authors conclude that robotics and automation will be doing away with the majority of low-skilled jobs.(more)
Thousands of manufacturers looking for new ideas attended WESTEC 2017 in Los Angeles, where 538 companies exhibited advanced manufacturing and machine technologies. From the buzz on the show floor to the presentation Q & As, California’s local and state officials, public-private partnerships, and businesses are committed to the future and expansion of the manufacturing industry in the Golden State.(more)
The message from the September show in Hannover, EMO 2017, is clear: The European industrial scene is one of prosperity; the Eurozone has recovered and demonstrates a healthy growth; and overall, markets of the EU are again attractive for manufacturing technology suppliers. In fact, results of a survey conducted after the show predict an optimistic €20 billion (U.S. $23.4 billion) could be invested in new technology over the next 24 months.(more)
A few weeks I returned from EMO in Hannover, Germany, and reflected on the very connected history between EMO and IMTS.(more)
Over the past eight weeks, AMT members have been very upbeat when sharing information about how the markets are doing here in North America and across the globe. While visiting members’ booths and attending market update conferences during EMO, the tone was clearly positive with expectations that business was trending up and would for the next several quarters.(more)
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) finally introduced the Republican leadership’s long-awaited tax reform bill, entitled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1). It is expected to cost about $1.5 trillion over the next decade. The President praised the bill as one that will stimulate the economy and create jobs. The Senate is expected to introduce its own version of tax reform soon. Enacting a bill before the end of the year is still a long shot, given the complicated budget process and the opposition of powerful constituencies. If legislation is eventually enacted, it may look very different from the current proposal.(more)
The sales process for many products, including machine tools, has changed. Thanks to easy access to information, customers who want to purchase a new machine today can narrow their choices to a few machines that will meet their needs before ever speaking with an actual sales person. After just a few clicks on a computer mouse, these customers can quickly research and compare data and machine specifications from several builders. They can also easily find and read reviews or social media posts from other manufacturers who are already using the machines to learn more about the pros and cons of each.(more)
The winds have shifted in Washington since Congress returned from the month long summer break. There is a new sense of urgency to get something done from both sides of the aisle. It's true that it took an act of nature to bring the parties together, but it took an act of bipartisanship to enact a disaster relief package that included: a down payment for rebuilding after the hurricanes, a short-term spending deal to keep the government open through December, and a three-month increase in the debt ceiling necessary to fund the spending.(more)
In today’s ultra-competitive manufacturing industry, planning workholding in conjunction with a machine tool purchase has become more important than ever. Gone are the days of ordering a machine, having it installed, and then mounting whatever workholding is laying around the shop on the machine.(more)
Is the auto industry forecast closer to a sci-fi or horror film for advanced manufacturers? Why is there optimism for mining, off-road & construction (MOC) industry?(more)
AMT will soon have a new address for our Shanghai Tech Center (STC) in China. In 2004, AMT opened its first foreign Technology and Service Center in Shanghai’s Waigaoqiao Pilot Free Trade Zone. For more than a decade, AMT’s Shanghai Tech Center has helped more than 100 AMT member companies increase their sales and distribution in China.(more)