Industry News for 03/2017

New technology brings higher precision, faster production to make small parts more efficiently than is possible with traditional micro machining technology and equipment, according to a whitepaper from GF Microlution Inc.
FANUC America has marked the 35th anniversary of manufacturing its line of painting robots at the company’s Rochester Hills, Mich., headquarters. In 1982, FANUC America produced its first NC Painter, a hydraulic paint robot using key components from parent company FANUC Corp. in Japan. Now, 35 years later, FANUC America remains globally responsible for all paint robots and door openers of the FANUC robot lineup.
Yamazaki Mazak Corp. and Murata Machinery, Ltd. (Muratec) have collaborated in the development of the MAZATEC SMS, an advanced manufacturing system designed to provide efficiency by performing unmanned machining. It incorporates the internal factory material handling technology of Muratec with the advanced horizontal machining centers and multi-tasking machine tools of Mazak Corp.
In the 1987 movie "Wall Street," the archetypal corporate villain Gordon Gekko memorably argues that “greed is good”—and that the bottom line is the only good a dutiful company need pursue. Thirty years on, Ethisphere Institute has announced 124 companies spanning five continents, 19 countries and 52 industry sectors as the 2017 World’s Most Ethical Companies honorees. Of these, four are in the category of Industrial Manufacturing: 3M Co., Deere & Co., Milliken & Co. and Timken Co. Kennametal Inc., Latrobe, Pa., is the only honored company in the category of Machine Tools and Accessories.
On Robot introduces grippers for cobots
On Robot ApS, a Danish manufacturer of grippers for collaborative robots (cobots) that was founded in 2014, is introducing its technology to the North American market and has appointed Gary Eliasson as its general manager for North America. He will be based in Charlotte, N.C. “My goal is to set up a North American distribution channel,” he said.
Sources tell Reuters that Plex Systems Inc, a privately held U.S. maker of software used to run manufacturing plants, is exploring a potential sale that it hopes will value it at more than $1 billion, including debt. The move comes as the world's largest industrial companies, from General Electric Co. to Siemens AG, seek to snap up software assets to modernize their manufacturing processes, improve their supply chains and cut costs.
U.S. factory output increased for a sixth straight month in February while consumer sentiment rebounded in early March, underscoring the economy's resilience even as growth appears to have slowed significantly in the first quarter. That was supported by other data on Friday showing a gauge of future economic activity rose in February to its highest level in more than a decade.
Programs at high schools provide manufacturing skills
SMTCL USA Inc., City of Industry, Calif., received an award at the Digital Manufacturing Showcase event Feb. 10 from Galesburg High School for the machine tool builder's part in a new partnership bringing manufacturing training to high school students. This program gives students an opportunity to learn CAD, CNC programming and CNC operation. Students from six local high schools will be able to take the classes.
Donald Trump promises to bring factory jobs back to the U.S. from overseas, but many blue-collar workers are hurt more by a lack of skills than by globalization.
The U.S. manufacturing industry is rushing to embrace technology as a critical part of its processes and plans to make new technological investments in 2017, but barriers to Industry 4.0 adoption still exist, according to Automation Alley’s 2017 Technology Industry Report. According to the report, 85% of national manufacturing executives said their company plans to increase budgets for technological advancements; nearly a third of them plan to increase their budgets by 10% to 15%.
At Manufacturing Tomorrow, Greg Dyer of Randstad Commercial Staffing writes about “The hottest jobs in manufacturing in 2017.” He notes “new technology, innovative production systems, a growing preference for American-made goods and a decline in offshoring are transforming U.S. manufacturing. There is an increased demand for technology-savvy workers to not only capitalize on the next industrial revolution, but to fill a critical void left behind by retiring workers.” The hottest manufacturing jobs this year are: “production supervisor, maintenance mechanic, driver, machine operator and warehouse supervisor.”
A deeper look at precision toolholders
Although toolholders are known to be critical components in the precision machining process, the unique details that differentiate a “standard” toolholder from one that is designed for more precise, high speed work can be subtle. Like the parts they are used to create, precision toolholders are machined to exacting tolerances to create the optimum fit within the spindle, concentricity and balance. The more precise the work, the more these factors come into play.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly employment report, 28,000 new manufacturing jobs were added in the U.S. in February—more than double the January number. Over the past 3 months, manufacturing has added 57,000 jobs. The rate of increase in February marked the fastest pace of manufacturing job creation since late 2014.
Global machine tool business set to gain momentum
Economic pundits anticipate global machine tool consumption will increase 2.1 percent in 2017, reaching a market value of $73.6 billion, according to the German Machine Tool Builders’ Association, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The group released the machine tool business data at a March 9 press conference in Chicago for the EMO trade show, which takes place Sept. 18 through Sept. 23 in Hanover, Germany.
Worldwide manufacturing business conditions showed the largest improvement for more than five-and-a-half years in February, with global trade expanding at the fastest rate for just under six years and optimism about the future continuing to improve. Manufacturing input prices meanwhile continued to rise markedly, albeit with the rate of increase easing slightly during the month. The JPMorgan Global Manufacturing PMI, compiled by Markit, rose from 52.7 in January to 52.9 in February; its highest since May 2011.
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in February, and the overall economy grew for the 93rd consecutive month, say the nation's supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business. The February PMI registered 57.7 percent, an increase of 1.7 percentage points from the January reading of 56 percent. The New Orders Index registered 65.1 percent, an increase of 4.7 percentage points from the January reading of 60.4 percent. The Production Index registered 62.9 percent, 1.5 percentage points higher than the January reading of 61.4 percent.
Mastercam 2018 Public Beta
Mastercam 2018 Public Beta is now open to all currently maintained Mastercam customers. Shops all over the world, from small job shops to Fortune 100, get a chance to test-drive Mastercam 2018 before it is released and provide valuable feedback to help shape the final product. Participants in the Public Beta get an early look at dozens of powerful new tools for simple to complex jobs.
mHUB celebrates grand opening
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and mHUB’s board of directors announced the official grand opening of mHUB, a physical product innovation center and microfactory designed to galvanize the manufacturing ecosystem by generating innovative ideas, attracting world-class talent and fostering collaboration. Born through the combined efforts of Chicago’s leaders in business, innovation and research, mHUB offers Chicago’s burgeoning product manufacturers access to state-of-the-art facilities, along with resources to develop and bring new products to market.
To a certain extent, other countries have taken advantage of the United States since the turn of the last century. Beginning with World War II and the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after much of it was destroyed, the United States insisted in promulgating our version of democracy and continued to fund economic assistance to underdeveloped countries, and not-so-underdeveloped nations as well.
Cerasis, a transportation-management company that works with the manufacturing industry, recently shared a list of manufacturing-technology trends that it says are growing in importance. Among them are green manufacturing, IIoT and computer analytics.