Erosion in American manufacturing has been far more dramatic than commonly thought, with sharp declines in both employment and output, according to a new study released by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF; Washington, DC).
The study, entitled "Worse Than The Depression: What the Experts are Missing about American Manufacturing Decline," debunks widely held myths about productivity gains, restructuring, and a manufacturing renaissance. It reveals the stark reality of a historic decline in US competitiveness and unprecedented deindustrialization. The report said that what the United States is experiencing is not merely another boom-and-bust cycle but a structural decline more akin to what Britain experienced in the 1960s and 1970s when it lost its industrial leadership.
"What we discovered flies in the face of nearly all the reporting and commentary on manufacturing and reveals a disturbing truth," notes ITIF President Robert D. Atkinson, the report’s chief author. "US manufacturing jobs have been lost not simply because the sector is more productive. It is producing less. And unlike some high-wage nations, America is not replacing low-value-added manufacturing with high-valued-added manufacturing or opening new plants to replace closed ones. There is difference between restructuring and decline. American manufacturing is in decline."
From January 2000 to January 2010, the U.S. lost one-third of its manufacturing jobs, almost 5.5 million jobs, the report cites. This is likely the highest rate of manufacturing job loss in American history, ITIF notes, exceeding even the rate of loss in the Great Depression. In addition, economy-wide job losses in the last decade were far more concentrated in manufacturing than during the Great Depression. But unlike the period after the Depression or in the recoveries from recessions after World War II, the recent rebound in manufacturing has been far weaker than portrayed by recent news reports and comes off the steepest decline of any post-war recession, the report contends.
Despite the sobering findings, the report also emphasizes that manufacturing is still critical to America’s economic future. Manufacturing still adds $1.6 trillion to GDP and employs nearly 12 million people. ITIF emphasizes that policy changes such as a more competitive corporate tax code, increases in funding for manufacturing-focused R&D and programs to train manufacturing workers, and increased efforts to fight unfair or illegal trade practices can stem the tide and help restore the U.S. manufacturing base.
"America needs to wake up to the fact that a series of grave policy errors have left us a production foundation that is too weak to support the kind of economy we need to build. We will need new policies to build a new manufacturing foundation," says Atkinson. "This is a central economic task for America for this decade."
ITIF also recently released its "Charter For Revitalizing American Manufacturing," proposed by Atkinson and signed on by 18 organizations’ CEOs, including Mark Tomlinson, executive director/CEO of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), detailing steps for industry to take toward development of a national manufacturing policy.
For more information, visit www.itif.org, or to download the report, go to http://tinyurl.com/memediareport1.
AMT, AMTDA Merge
Machine tool associations AMT-The Association For Manufacturing Technology (McLean, VA) and AMTDA-The American Machine Tool Distributors’ Association (Rockville, MD) have merged and will integrate their products and services to better serve the members of both associations. With the merger, the new AMT will be headquartered in McLean, VA, and all current employees of AMTDA will join the new AMT immediately.
The combined associations will offer several advantages to the machine tool industry, according to AMT, including:
- Strengthened and expanded products and services;
- Access to powerful business intelligence systems;
- Data and information from industry economists and analysts;
- A focus on the priorities and needs of the industry;
- Networking and collaboration through expanded membership;
- Education and "smartforce" development.
"This merger is a logical evolution for the manufacturing technology industry," says AMTDA Chairman Steve M. Wherry. "We are uniting the entire manufacturing technology supply chain from engineering and building machines, to integrating automation and support, to distribution service."
"This move exponentially increases member benefits and services to both organizations," adds Eugene R. Haffely, Jr., Chairman of AMT. "We are now a stronger, more complete organization, representing the entire value chain of the manufacturing technology industry. Most important, this will give our industry a more clarified and unified voice."
Both Boards of Directors voted unanimously for the merger, and an unprecedented percentage of the combined membership participated in the vote to approve the move. As a result of the merger, the organization took on an intensive process to design a new logo and rebranding of the new group.
"It has always been our goal to find better ways to serve the manufacturing industry," says AMT President Douglas K. Woods. "This process, upon which we embarked two years ago, is a natural partnership that will help both organizations as we seek to advance manufacturing in the United States."
Manufacturing Technology Orders Off To Good Start
The machine tool industry got off to a solid start in 2012 as orders for US manufacturing technology totaled $401.69 million in January, an increase of 8.4% compared to orders of $370.46 million during January 2011, according to the latest figures from AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology (McLean, VA).
The January total actually declined 26.5% compared to December 2011 orders. "January’s increase in manufacturing technology orders over 2011 is great in light of lower forecasts by experts," says AMT President Douglas K. Woods. "I think the continued growth highlights manufacturers’ increasing confidence in future growth and that their bottom lines are being channeled into investments in advanced manufacturing technologies."
The United States Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) report, compiled by the trade association representing the production and distribution of manufacturing technology, provides regional and national US orders data of domestic and imported machine tools and related equipment. Analysis of manufacturing technology orders provides a reliable leading economic indicator as manufacturing industries invest in capital metalworking equipment to increase capacity and improve productivity.
Machine tool builder DMG / Mori Seiki (Chicago) has announced expansion of its comprehensive service package, 360 SUPPORT, to be included in every machine tool purchase. The expanded service offering ensures that the same high level of quality that is integrated into every DMG and Mori Seiki machine is also delivered in total support of that equipment.
The 360 SUPPORT goes beyond standard service by providing a value‐added package for customer support including a two‐year warranty, 24‐hour parts shipment guarantee, increased inventory at the American Parts Center in Dallas, DMG / Mori Seiki Qualified Products Program, Mori Seiki certified spindle rebuilding, DMG / Mori Seiki University training, and local and national telephone support.
The company also is continuing to increase the quantity of skilled service personnel with the announcement of the Field Service Trainee Program. The newly announced trainee program further leverages DMG / Mori Seiki University’s (DMSU) advanced training and expertise. With the program, apprentice service engineers complete a three‐year immersive technical training program at the factory before joining a product‐specific specialty service team.
"We are proud to continue the expansion of our total customer support," says Mark H. Mohr, DMG / Mori Seiki USA President. "This service package reflects the growing needs of our collaborative DMG and Mori Seiki customer base and our priority to meet and exceed their expectations."
Cutting tool manufacturer Walter USA LLC (Waukesha, WI) announced plans to expand its North American headquarters with the addition of a new Walter North American Technology Center. The expansion, which includes improved management and administration offices in addition to the new tech center, will be a 40,000 ft2 facility located just west of the Milwaukee metropolitan area. The facility is officially scheduled for opening in the fall of 2012.
The center will be a state-of-the-art facility that will include demonstration and application trial areas devoted to involving real-world applications and Walter cutting tool technology. Walter offers an extensive lineup of cutting tools for milling, drilling, turning, boring and specialized tooling for applications through its brands Walter Valenite, Walter Titex and Walter Prototyp.
Kistler North America (Novi, MI) has announced its ISO/IEC 17025 accredited calibration services for the piezoelectric pressure and force sensors used within the zero-defect plastics injection molding of electronic components, optical lenses, liquid silicone rubber (LSR), medical components and MIM. A supplier of precision sensors, systems and instrumentation for the dynamic measurement of pressure, force, torque and acceleration, Kistler’s pricing is dependent on the services required. Use of properly calibrated sensors and instrumentation is essential for ensuring that measurement and control systems are fully functioning according to manufacturers’ published specifications, with precise data output of only the highest accuracy, the company contends.
All of Kistler’s calibration services are A2LA accredited to the ISO/IEC 17025 standard, with documentation via issued certificate, detailing the date of calibration and the use of a reference sensor with NIST traceability, with 10 business days typical turnaround time. For more information, contact Kistler North America at 888-KISTLER or visit www.kistler.com.
This article was first published in the May 2012 issue of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Click here for PDF.