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NewsDesk: Manufacturing Network Takes Shape


During his 2014 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama on Jan. 28 again made manufacturing a centerpiece of his economic agenda—calling for the creation of a total of six manufacturing innovation institutes.
  
We have the chance, he said, “to beat other countries in the race for the next wave of high-tech manufacturing jobs.”

The effort is part of Obama’s broader vision for a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) that strengthens US industry. He first proposed the network in March 2012 and renewed calls for it in his 2013 State of the Union address, pledging $200 million to invest in three such institutes.

Under his vision, the full network, which requires legislation from Congress, would be developed over a decade and consist of up to 45 regional hubs of public-private partnership. Each would develop specific manufacturing technologies, skilled workers and spin-off businesses.  

President Obama on Manufacturing and the Economy in Raleigh, NC.

As of presstime, just two of the institutes have been announced. “Bipartisan bills in both houses could double the number of these hubs and the jobs they create,” Obama said. “So, get those bills to my desk and put more Americans back to work.”

In early January, during a visit to Raleigh, NC, Obama announced the selection of the second manufacturing innovation institute. That North Carolina-headquartered institute will include a consortium of 18 companies and 6 universities focused on wide bandgap semiconductor technologies.

The pilot institute, originally known as the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, or NAMII, was established in August 2012 with $30 million in federal funds and $40 million from its members. Based in Youngstown, OH, NAMII, which is now known as “America Makes,” is focused on additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing.

SME had a critical role in getting the pilot innovation institute off the ground, and is providing some support to the manufacturing institutes.

The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation is supported by a report released in 2012, “Capturing Domestic Competitive Advantage in Advanced Manufacturing.”


Manufacturing Barometer Shows Optimism about US

US industrial manufacturers expressed optimism about the economy, and the broader world economy, in the latest PwC Manufacturing Barometer, for the fourth quarter of 2013.

Optimism about the US economy during the next 12 months rose among US industrial manufacturers to 68% in the fourth quarter, up from 60% in the prior quarter. Compared to the fourth quarter of 2012, 20% more executives are now optimistic about the domestic economy.

Overall sentiment about the world’s economic prospects also increased, rising to 47% in the fourth quarter from 40% in the third quarter and just 32% in the fourth quarter of 2012.

For more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/pwcjan.


Manufacturing Growth Slows

Economic activity in the US manufacturing sector expanded in January for the eight consecutive month, while the overall economy grew for the 56th consecutive month, according to the Manufacturing ISM Report on Business released on Feb. 3.

While manufacturing growth continued, however, it did slow down. The PMI registered 51.3%, a decline of 5.2 percentage points from December’s seasonally adjusted reading of 56.5%.

Source: Institute for Supply Management

The ISM report is based on a survey of purchasing and supply executives, and readings below 50 indicate contraction, while those above 50 indicate expansion.

The New Orders Index registered 51.2%, a significant decrease of 13.2 percentage points from December’s seasonally adjusted reading of 64.4%. The Production Index registered 54.8%, a decrease of 6.9 percentage points compared to December’s seasonally adjusted reading of 61.7%. Inventories of raw materials decreased by 3 percentage points to 44%, its lowest reading since December 2012 when the Inventories Index registered 43%.

“A number of comments from the panel cite adverse weather conditions as a factor negatively impacting their businesses in January, while others reflect optimism and increasing volumes in the early stages of 2014,” said Bradley J. Holcomb, CPSM, CPSD, chair of the Institute for Supply Management™ Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

For more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/MfgISMJan. ME


Lightweighting Goes Mainstream: Ford F-150 Goes on a Diet

Ford Motor Co. (Dearborn, MI) is hoping to redefine the way pickup trucks are built with the 2015 F-150. Introduced Jan. 13 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the new truck will weigh up to 700 lb (318 kg) less than its predecessor thanks to high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloys currently already in use in the aerospace, commercial transportation and energy industries. The vehicle’s frame uses high-strength steel rated up to 70,000 psi (482.7 MPa). The amount of high-strength steel in the frame has increased from the 23% used in 2014 and earlier models to 77%. Eight through-welded crossmembers help increase frame stiffness.

Ford resorted to the “diet plan” as a means of meeting upcoming fuel and emissions regulations.

Another lightweighting step was taken in what will be the F-150’s newest engine, a 2.7L EcoBoost V6. The new V6, according to Ford, is the first gasoline engine to have a cylinder block made with compacted graphite iron (CGI). CGI has previously been limited to use in diesel engine blocks. The new engine’s composite CGI/aluminum block, Ford said, saves weight while providing strength where it’s needed most for durability.

The 2015 F-150 will go on sale later in 2014 and will be assembled at the Dearborn (MI) Truck Plant and the Kansas City Assembly Plant (Claycomo, MO). More details may be found at www.sme.org/memedia/motorizedvehicles.


Industrial 3D Company ExOne Updates Expectations

The ExOne Co. (North Huntingdon, PA), a global provider of three-dimensional (“3D”) printing machines and printed products to industrial customers, announced Jan. 14 that it expects 2013 revenue to be in the range of $40 million to $42 million. This compares with previous revenue guidance of approximately $48 million. The shortfall primarily relates to machine sales not yet completed for customers whose approval processes were deferred into 2014. The specific machines to be sold are four S-Max and one S-Print. The Company also noted that it sold its complete inventory of six M-Flex machines in 2013. The first M-Flex was sold in the third quarter of 2013. This machine platform was introduced to satisfy the demand for a large range of industrial customers that are interested in directly printing metals, ceramic and glass products. 


Mergers & Acquisitions

Astronics Corp. (East Aurora, NY), a leading provider of advanced technologies for the global aerospace and defense industries, announced Jan. 21 that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire substantially all of the assets and liabilities of EADS North America’s Test and Services (EADS T&S; Irvine, CA) division for approximately $53 million in cash plus a net working capital adjustment. The agreement is expected to close in February, subject to normal closing requirements.


Openings & Expansions

Toyoda Machinery USA (Shrewsbury, MA) on Jan. 15 announced the opening of the Northeast Tech Center in Shrewsbury. Serving the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states, this facility will act as a regional hub for Toyoda’s Sales and Support departments. Toyoda has also increased its sales and field service personnel in the region. The Northeast Tech Center currently houses Toyoda’s FH550SX horizontal machining center and AQ1050 vertical machining center.


Events

Roll-Kraft’s vice president of Tube Mill Engineering, Robert A. Sladky, and Senior Technical Advisor, Bret Molnar, will be presenting, “Tube and Pipe: Forming and Fabricating - Tooling Management Programs” on Wednesday, March 19th. from 1:15 to 3:15 PM at FABTECH Canada 2014. The conference, Canada’s only exclusive fabricating, welding, metal forming and finishing event, will be held March 18–20, 2014 at the Toronto Congress Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Mazak (Florence, KY) invites manufacturers to its DISCOVER MORE WITH MAZAK Midwest event, taking place from 9 am to 6 pm March 25–27 at the company’s Technology Center in Schaumburg, IL. The event will focus on ways to boost production efficiency through total manufacturing solutions, highlighting advancements in machine tool technology, automation systems, cutting tools and more.


Announcements

Haas Automation (Oxnard, CA) has launched two new websites: HaasParts.com is an online resource where Haas owners can shop online for genuine Haas parts. Meanwhile, HaasCNC.com is the new Haas Resource Center for valuable information about the care and maintenance of Haas machines.

Absolute Machine Tools Inc. (Lorain, OH) has revamped its website, www.absolutemachine.com. The site provides comprehensive descriptions, specifications and application information for the company’s offering of turning, milling, deep hole and gun barrel drilling and EDM machine tools from OEMs that include AccuteX, You Ji, Johnford, Tongtai, Nexturn, and Precihole.

ESAB Welding & Cutting Products (Florence, SC) has formed a partnership with RoboVent Product Group, Inc. (Sterling Heights, MI) for the development of high-performance robotic welding solutions in North America. RoboVent fume extraction equipment will be featured as part of ESAB’s robotic welding systems, including the new Swift Arc Series of pre-engineered robotic welding cells offered as complete ready-to-weld units.

MC Industrial Inc. (St. Louis) has been chosen to manage the design and construction of utility Ameren Missouri’s multi-million-dollar project to build the state’s largest investor-owned solar energy center. The facility will be located in O’Fallon, Mo. Construction is scheduled to begin in April following final design and permitting in late spring. The facility will feature more than 19,000 solar panels.


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

 

This article was first published in the March 2014 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.  Click here for PDF


Published Date : 3/1/2014

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