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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
Jan 25, 2023


Do You Even AI, Bro?

Automation has embraced artificial intelligence on the manufacturing floor for some time now – including everything from measurement to AMR. But what about the rest of the organization? It looks like AI is sneaking its way into everyday office work. Grammarly uses various AI techniques to provide text corrections and recommendations based on the context of the sentence. Microsoft uses AI for cybersecurity. Have you clicked on Design Ideas in PowerPoint? AMT uses online AI tools for text summarization, topics, and keyword analysis. AI is a means to an end. It is easy to focus on the means and lose sight of the organization’s goal. As with any manufacturing technology, defining the problem statement and then backing into the solution will drive costs downs and revenue up.


Automation Driving Output

Government stimulus and easy money have contributed to soaring financial asset prices, burgeoning savings accounts, and wage inflation that has inspired workers to look for greener pastures. Manufacturing job openings are more than double the level seen during the first quarter of 2020, which would normally drag down output as job hoppers adjust to their new roles. However, industrial production for durable manufacturing has grown 8% despite the turnover. Moreover, employment and hours worked have only increased 0.9% and 1.5% respectively. How is this possible?

Adoption of automation is likely the answer. Since the first quarter of 2020, North American industrial robot orders have increased 82% through the second quarter of 2022 as reported by the Association for Advancing Automation. In contrast, metal-cutting machine tool orders have increased just 26%. Interestingly, the average value of metal-cutting machine tool units has increased 20%, indicating a higher ratio of units sold with automation included.


National Teacher Shortage Also Impacts CTE

The national shortage of teachers across the United States is impacting every level of education, including career and technical education (CTE). The gap in our nation’s ability to attract, recruit, train, and retain teachers will continue to negatively affect our industry’s ability to show progress in filling the skills gap, especially in automation, robotics, and smart digital manufacturing technologies.

In AMT’s Manufacturing Mandate, we have recommended that action be taken at the federal, state, and local levels to address this issue. Solutions include improving teacher pay scales; developing broader-reaching, public servant student loan forgiveness programs; easing state-based certification requirements; and launching long-term programs like the Department of Education’s Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program. Keep in touch with us about what’s happening in your local community to address this issue by contacting AMT Vice President of Smartforce Development Greg Jones at gjones@AMTonline.org or Smartforce Development Director of Education Catherine Ross at cross@AMTonline.org.


Will New Balance in the House Signal Compromise?

The 118th Congress convenes under new leadership in the House and a shift of the balance of power in Washington. Much is still unknown about how these new dynamics will impact policymaking. However, House GOP leaders have already indicated they’ll begin investigations into the January 6th committee and various administration officials. That, along with posturing from both parties for the 2024 presidential election, could get in the way of significant legislation reaching the president’s desk. Members of Congress must find areas where they can agree and compromise to advance their priorities. Look for efforts to extend the many 2017 tax cuts, including income tax rates which expire in 2025, and a push for a more active trade agenda.


The Onshoring Project Is Here To Help

In the wake of ongoing global supply chain disruptions, AMT and a consortium of North American innovators, practitioners, and supply chain experts from across the manufacturing industry launched The Onshoring Project. During IMTS 2022, The Onshoring Project hosted the inaugural Smarter Sourcing Symposium. Consortium members and supply chain leaders shared strategies for sounder and more financially beneficial North American part production.

OEMs, tier suppliers, and contract manufacturers alike benefited from firsthand demonstrations and panel discussions on new tools and proven techniques for leaner, more agile, more profitable domestic sourcing. Specific tools and topics covered included Manufacturing Critical-Path Time (MCT), Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), and Supply Chain Interoperability Specification (SCIS).


Robots of the World, Unite!

In this issue, while talking about robots, Gary Vasilash hits the nail on the head when he states that “your competitors are not necessarily down the street or across town, but likely somewhere else on Earth.” Well, so are your potential customers, with more than 85% of the world’s manufacturing technology consumed outside of the United States.

Anyone who visited a major global manufacturing technology exhibition in 2022 (IMTS, JIMTOF, MACH, METAV, etc.) could not avoid the standout theme of the day – factory automation through robotics. As Dave Burns reflected on JIMTOF, “It was difficult to walk 100 feet and not see a functional robot performing a task.” The trend is global. If your product or service is related to automation and robotics, the world is your oyster. AMT’s international tech centers can help you open that up.

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