Having the opportunity to attend many of the international shows, a common theme continues to play out: the improvement of the global economy and the positive impact to the manufacturing world. As many companies enjoy these good times, they are also confronted with the impact to their supply chain since many are depending on the same suppliers and the lack of component supply. The other area that is impacted as well is the shortage of skilled personnel available to meet the growing demands.(more)
Brazil's economy, by far the biggest in Latin America, faces a brighter future after several difficult years. Consumer demand and investment will help Brazil post performance outpacing the rest of the region this year while the politics are finally left behind.(more)
Just the other day I received an email from a friend/business acquaintance who asked a simple question about an upcoming conference. I quickly replied with a short response and, me being me added a quip about the only time I hear from him is when he wants something. I even added LOL at the end. It wasn’t two minutes later that I got his heated response, tearing me a new one, saying that if answering his question was such a burden, no worries, he’ll ask someone else.(more)
Over the last year or so I’ve had a lot of conversations with members about their business use of social media. Responses and activity level vary up and down the scale, from “yeah, we’ve got someone dedicated to that” to “I’m just not sure I see how useful this is for our industry.”(more)
In recent months, there has been very good news on the jobs front in manufacturing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing has averaged an increase of 18,000 jobs per month over the past twelve months. Wages have been increasing in recent quarters as well.(more)
This year is rocking the USMTO order books. October is on track to produce a third month in a row with $500 million in orders or better, which hasn’t happened in the history of USMTO program. The supply chain has not caught up with demand pushing backlogs on orders out further. Two other first-time developments also occurred in September as the medical equipment sector became the third largest market by dollar volume and the South East became the largest region by dollar volume for the first time since USMTO began. As 2018 comes to an end, let’s look at other areas that producers, distributors and service providers in our industry might find as interesting opportunities.(more)
When the dust finally settled on the mid-term elections, Democrats gained a net 39 seats, shifting control of the House of Representatives to the democrats. Republicans strengthened their majority in the Senate with a net pickup of three seats. Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Mitch McConnell will lead their respective bodies in the 116th Congress. How will the new faces and a divided leadership impact the policy agenda? Here’s a look at several topics being discussed:(more)
Phillips Corporation is now utilizing the potential of augmented reality technology to improve training to its worldwide team of field service engineers, including initial training of new engineers and supporting seasoned engineers, while also directly supporting customers working on their own equipment.(more)
Wish #1: Obtain a qualified list of potential customers with quantifiable communication management.
Gift: IMTS Exhibitor Passport
IMTS Exhibitor Passport gives you exclusive access to all contact information for IMTS 2018 and IMTS 2016 visitors. Equipped with built-in analytics and communication tools for sending targeted emails and downloading addresses, IMTS Exhibitor Passport automatically matches exhibitors’ product categories to the visitors’ self-selected interests, which is the magic of this product.(more)
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)
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)