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Manufacturing Matters

Check in for the highlights, headlines, and hijinks that matter to manufacturing. These lean news items keep you updated on the latest developments.
by AMT
Feb 05, 2022

Developments in Automation Continue to Accelerate

Automation is catching on in a way only seen previously in science fiction. From drones inspecting the skin of an F-35 Lightning to fast food robot cells frying chicken wings, automation use cases are expanding exponentially. The brains behind the operations and end-of-arm-tooling (EAOT) will continue to drive acceptance. Machine learning and artificial intelligence, coupled with more powerful edge computing, will drive more complex operations. Additionally, with developments in EOAT such as standard interfaces, more dexterous grippers, and sprays nozzles, the industry will see a resurgence in complex, automated tasks. The conversation surrounding the technology is shifting from “Automation is taking jobs” to “Watch what this robot can do!”

Supply Chain Issues Are Killing the Recovery Buzz

Supply chain stories have led the news for weeks as freighters pile up off the coast of China or the United States. Inventories are skyrocketing as manufacturers order in excess to anticipate shortages. Walmart has begun to hire its own freighters. Job shops are requiring their customers supply materials. The United States is suffering a little more in this issue than other nations.

AMT’s economic consultants, Alan Beaulieu of ITR Economics and Mark Killion of Oxford Economics, expect supply chain pressures to ease in 2022. Alan cites inflection points in short-term commodity price indexes as a signal of easing supply chain pressures by the middle of 2022, whereas Oxford Economics’ latest flash survey reveals that only half of global manufacturers expect supply chain constraints to be fully dissipated by then. However, easing is a path to recovery and not the elimination of the issue, which both economists suggest could linger into 2023.

The Smartforce Student Summit Returns to IMTS 2022

Planning has been underway for months, and registration for the Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS opens in February. We have already sent out a save-the-date notice to schools, and the response has been overwhelmingly favorable. On industry advisory council Zoom meetings with schools, teachers who we consider to be very good friends of IMTS report back to us that they and their students can’t wait to return to IMTS to see the latest in manufacturing technology on display.

We have been consulting with our traditional Student Summit exhibit partners, and we are very excited about new additions to the Summit, which always focuses on the manufacturing technology classroom of the future, and we are looking forward to showing the next generation the education and career opportunities our industry has to offer.

Reshoring Creates Opportunities for AMT Members Abroad

Every industrialized country is in the process of reshoring and nearshoring their manufacturing base to minimize future dependence on foreign suppliers. This translates into billions of investment dollars in new factories, expansions, upgrades, and vertical integrations – creating vast opportunities for AMT members to sell (export) their manufacturing technology. Since April 2020, AMT has been publishing a weekly series titled “International News From the Field,” which is a curation of specific, actionable global sales opportunities from our international staff. Keep up on these prospects and review some 75 articles by clicking on “International” at AMTonline.org.

Midterm Elections Will Dominate the Agenda

Campaigning for the midterm elections will distract from the legislative agenda in 2022. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and one-third in the Senate will be on the ballot this November. At stake for the Biden administration are the razor-thin Democratic majorities in both chambers. Most election forecasters predict Republicans will win control of the House and Senate.

AMT’s 2022 policy priorities include extending 100% bonus depreciation, which begins phasing out in 2023 until it expires in 2026. We are also working with government agencies and business coalitions to reduce the mounting compliance and cost burdens of new rules and regulations in areas including toxic chemicals, labor, trade, and ESG. Finally, we continue to support initiatives that increase technology and R&D investment in manufacturing technology, build a manufacturing Smartforce, ease supply chain disruptions, and expand global and domestic market opportunities for the industry.

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In April, Silicon Valley Robotics hosted its annual Robot Block Party in Oakland, California. The event served as a hub for robotics enthusiasts, hobbyists, and makers to showcase their projects and products. Think public school book fair – but for robots.
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