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NewsDesk: Worker Shortage is Getting Worse

The shortage of qualified production workers in the United States is getting worse, according to results from a March 2013 survey released on June 6 by the Manufacturing Leadership Council and Frost & Sullivan.

The report, entitled “The Manufacturing Workforce: A Deepening Crisis,” says: “The issue of attracting people with the right skills to manufacturing jobs, both hourly and salaried, is not only real, but is growing more severe despite numerous efforts by many organizations to develop skills certification programs, initiatives such as STEM programs to raise educational levels, and report-laden campaigns to refute the public perception that manufacturing is not an attractive career choice.”

The survey was developed by the Manufacturing Leadership Council Editorial Department and was approved by the Board of Governors. The survey was fielded to the Manufacturing Leadership Community audience, including members of the Manufacturing Leadership Council, in March of 2013. These findings are based on 226 completed responses:

  • In North America, 80.6% of companies reported a medium or high level of difficulty finding qualified workers. In the next 5–10 years, however, the number that expected a high level of difficulty finding workers jumped to 35.9% from 27.3% today.
  • More than half, 51.5%, of respondents said that candidates for hourly positions are coming to them underqualified and not “workforce-ready.”
  • Only 31% of survey respondents said they have devised a formal strategy to identify their long-term workforce needs, including skill types.
  • The skills identified as high or medium priority recruiting areas were: engineering (92%); technical skills, such as welding and mechanics (90%); management (89%); and computer science (77%).

“The bottom line on the manufacturing workforce,” the report concludes, “is that manufacturers face significant challenges in attracting the people they need to run their production facilities and operations. Absent major changes and improvements to the educational system as well as the public perception of manufacturing and the career opportunities it can offer, individual manufacturing companies will bear most of the responsibility for providing for their future workforce needs.” Download the report at ME


Obama Takes on “Patent Trolls”

The Obama Administration on June 4 unveiled a package of executive orders and recommendations for legislation that takes aim at patent-holding firms, or so-called “patent trolls.”

Among the seven key legislative proposals: Require patentees and applicants to disclose the “Real Party-in-Interest,” by requiring that any party sending demand letters, filing an infringement suit or seeking PTO review of a patent to file updated ownership information, and enabling the PTO or district courts to impose sanctions for noncompliance.

In a blog post, Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, said these “patent trolls” essentially use “litigation tactics as a business model—costing the economy billions of dollars and undermining American innovation.”

“In the last two years,” he wrote, “the number of lawsuits brought by patent trolls has nearly tripled, and account for 62% of all patent lawsuits in America. All told, the victims of patent trolls paid $29 billion in 2011, a 400% increase from 2005—not to mention tens of billions of dollars more in lost shareholder value.”

The administration’s proposals and a link to a study on the issue can be found at ME

Latest ISM Report: Manufacturing Contracts, Hits 4-Year Low in May

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector contracted in May for the first time since November 2012, and the overall economy grew for the 48th consecutive month, according to the Manufacturing ISM Report on Business, which was released June 1 and surveys the nation’s top supply executives.

The PMI registered 49%, a decline of 1.7 percentage points from April’s reading of 50.7%. Readings below 50 indicate contraction, while those above 50 indicate expansion. The May reading was the lowest level since June 2009, when it registered 45.8%.
July 2013 ISM Report

Overall, the ISM report for May was largely down. Aside from the PMI, seven of the 10 indices showed contraction, including new orders, production, supplier deliveries, inventories, customers’ inventories, prices and backlog of orders. Areas that continued to show growth were employment, exports and imports. Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 10 reported growth in May. The May report can be found at ME

Mergers and Acquisitions

Sap AG (Walldorf, Germany) and hybris (Zug, Switzerland) on June 5 announced that SAP plans to acquire Hybris, a rapidly growing and widely recognized leader in e-commerce technology. The acquisition positions SAP to deliver the next-generation e-commerce platform, with the choice of on-premise or cloud deployment, as enterprises around the world seek to optimize the customer experience for businesses and consumers across an ever-growing number of delivery channels, devices and touch points.

Amada Co. Ltd. (Kanagawa) a leading Japanese company, has completed a takeover of Miyachi Unitek Corp. (Monrovia, CA), a leading manufacturer of welding equipment and laser processing systems. Miyachi is now a consolidated subsidiary of Amada, which develops, manufactures, sells and services products and systems for metal sheet processing, metal cutting, pressing, and machine tooling. The combined companies have formed a strong global alliance, and are expected to extend existing technology into new areas, collaborate on business systems, and better adjust to market fluctuations. Amada was established in 1946 and has 60 subsidiaries (17 in Japan and 43 overseas) and 6467 employees as of March 2012.


The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT; McLean, VA) on May 15 announced it is increasing its presence in Brazil with the opening of its AMT Sao Paulo Technology Center, located in the city of Sorocaba. The Technology Center is a place where AMT members can establish operations within Brazil to build relationships and explore the market’s potential. Services include sales and marketing assistance for reaching customers in Brazil; HR services such as employee proxy hiring for sales, service, and engineering positions; field service support for equipment in Brazil; and in-depth assistance for navigating Brazilian business practices.


Mazak (Florence, KY) on May 21 announced the certification of DP Technology Corp., a developer and supplier of computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software, as the newest member of its Value Inspired Partners (VIP) technology program. DP Technology is well known for its flagship product ESPRIT, a high-performance, full-spectrum programming system for milling, turning, wire EDM and multitasking machine tools.

CIMdata Inc. (Ann Arbor, MI), a leading global PLM strategic management consulting and research firm, on June 6 announced a new white paper investigating Dassault Systèmes’ Industry Solution Experience “Target Zero Defect” for the Transportation and Mobility industry. It can be downloaded at

Workforce Development

Hexagon Metrology (North Kingstown, RI ) on May 29 unveiled HexagonMetrologyU, the first eLearning portal designed to engage and support the metrology industry.

During their Northeast Technology Expo this spring, Hyundai WIA America President, IC Lee announced the company’s intent to donate two CNC Machine Tools worth $250,000 for use in a training program run by GW Lisk Co. and Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC). Hyundai WIA America Corp. (Carlstadt, NJ), a core division of the Hyundai Motor Group, and Excel Machine Technologies Inc. of Rochester donated a CNC turning center and vertical machining center to GW Lisk to support their program which addresses the shortage of skilled machinists in the Northeast region. “The shortage of skilled machinists hurts not only manufacturers, but companies that supply high-tech machine tools as well,” Lee said, adding: “Manufacturers are hesitant to buy equipment if they can’t be sure they will have employees to operate it.”


The third annual Women in Manufacturing (WiM) SUMMIT will be held Oct. 22–23 in Dearborn, MI. The conference will feature manufacturing plant tours, educational tracks, best practices panels, roundtable discussions, keynote presentations and social events to expand your network of women in the industry. Nearly 300 participants with titles ranging from production to CEO are expected to attend. A tour of the GM Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant is slated for Oct. 22, and Robert Rasmussen of LEGO Serious Play has been confirmed as one of the keynote speakers. Visit the WiM website at for ongoing updates. Contact Kristin Davis at 216-901-8800 or with questions or suggestions.


The Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI; Colorado Springs, CO), a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI; Washington, DC), announced May 17 that William M. Heenan, Jr. is the recipient of the 2013 Steel Market Development Institute Lifetime Achievement Award. Heenan was president of the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI) from 1990 until December 2010, when he retired after nearly 40 years of service in the steel industry. The SMDI Lifetime Achievement Award, established in 2004, recognizes steel industry professionals who have made significant contributions over the course of their careers to advancing the competitive use of steel in the marketplace.

Johnson Controls Automotive Seating (Plymouth, MI), a global leader in automotive seating and seat components, was recognized by Manufacturing Executive, a global association for manufacturing executives, with its Manufacturing Leadership 100 (ML100) Award in the Global Value Chain category. Johnson Controls was honored for implementing a new business initiative that integrated logistics and operational processes across its plants using Systems, Applications and Products in Data Processing (SAP) software.


Throughout the year, and culminating at the FABTECH 2013 Expo in Chicago, Victor Technologies (St. Louis, MO) will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of its Victor brand of cutting and gas control equipment. Victor’s founder, L.W. Stettner, suffered the loss of an eye in a welding accident and set out to design and build safer products for cutting and welding. Today, Victor Technologies provides solutions for cutting, gas control and specialty welding equipment under brand names that include Victor, VictorThermal Dynamics, VictorArcair, VictorTurboTorch, Tweco, Thermal Arc, Stoody, Firepower and Cigweld. Visit for anniversary details.

NewsDesk is edited by Editor-in-Chief Sarah A. Webster. Please email NewsDesk submissions to

This article was first published in the July 2013 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.  Click here for PDF

Published Date : 7/1/2013

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