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On Verge of Structural Changes, Industry Still Strongly Performs

Mark L. Michalski
By Mark L. Michalski 2019 SME President, SME Member Since 1992

As the second-largest producer of automobiles in the world, second to China, we saw the U.S. auto industry post the “…fourth-biggest year on record thanks to December gains” (; worldwide, there were some 70.5 million cars produced (

This year’s overview article by Kevin Tynan of Bloomberg Intelligence contends that “…the global automobile manufacturing landscape is one on the verge of structural change,” largely driven by autonomous and battery-operated vehicles.

The article discusses the buildup surrounding electric vehicles, i.e., no pollution, less congestion and so on; however, it contends that the hype is disconnected from consumer demand and manufacturers that are caught in the middle trying to decide if the technology investment will be worth the return on investment. Regardless of which stance you take, I believe we can all agree that the motorized vehicle industry is important and impactful to the overall global economy.

SME’s 2019 Motorized Vehicle Manufacturing Yearbook will look at what’s ahead for the industry as well as provide comprehensive technology, process improvement, workforce development and system features including:

In its quest to ensure quality, Universal Robots is utilizing its UR10 collaborative robot, equipped with a vision camera, to reach 100 percent quality in the subassembly of automotive engines.

Achates Power’s $9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program will be utilized to create the company’s new gasoline compression ignition opposed-piston engine. We provide the backstory on the Achates’ efforts to make a greener engine.

German metrology developer Jenoptik is shifting from metrology and laser processing standalone equipment to integrated automation solutions for the automotive industry. Get a deeper look at its expansion plans.

BigLever Software outlines its approach to feature-based Product Line Engineering (PLE) to change the way manufacturers address the challenge of finding and fixing defects.

EMAG LLC (North America)’s CEO, Peter Loetzner, shares how self-driving vehicles will create a new mobility class, predicting that, as the industry as well as the general population’s behavior patterns change, it will create new opportunities and challenges for all.

Auto supplier Kiekert discusses its efforts to digitize door latches. The company’s ReactiWake locking system guarantees a failsafe door latch without a lock cylinder, reducing complexity in the aftermarket and freeing designers to better position the latch and exterior handles.

Vivek Furtado, head of CNC software business at Siemens, offers his viewpoint on how the cloud helps manufacturing by leveraging the use of data and IOT integration.

This year’s workforce development article by Terni Fiorelli, an analyst with the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), draws on recent research conducted by Case Western Reserve, New York University and Boston University, with assistance from CAR and the Precision Metalforming Association. The consensus from this study reiterates that companies need to master the talent portion of the manufacturing equation in addition to technology to ensure success.

This year’s Motorized Vehicle Yearbook is an invaluable tool to utilize as it provides a glimpse into an important segment of manufacturing that continues to evolve and change. I hope you find it useful and informative.

As always, thank you for being part of the SME community. We’re here to help you succeed in the ever-evolving world manufacturing. Visit to view our resources.

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