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U.S. manufacturing sector ‘anticipated to grow 8 to 9%’


May 2018

Numerous major economic indicators signal that the U.S. manufacturing industry, the second largest market in the world with a value of nearly US$ 9 trillion, will enjoy its strongest growth in more than a decade leading up to IMTS 2018 (held from 10-15 September 2018 in Chicago). Overall manufacturing growth for 2018 is expected to increase by 8 to 9 per cent compared to 2017, according to Patrick McGibbon, Vice President of Strategic Analytics, AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, which runs the IMTS exhibition.

“Economic indicators suggest a longer term, continued expansion. In the short term, we anticipate immediate acceleration in capital investment among IMTS 2018 visitor and exhibitor companies,” said McGibbon. “Changes to the U.S. tax law should further encourage purchasing during and after the show. Reduced tax rates will increase available capital. R&D tax credits expand innovation and fully expense capital expenditures, which encourages purchasing.”

“The U.S. manufacturing sector is expressing economic confidence at levels not seen since the dot com boom. If there was ever a year to experience the energy, optimism and innovations offered at IMTS, this is it,” said Peter R. Eelman, Vice President – Exhibitions & Business Development at AMT. 

Orders for manufacturing technology in January 2018 were up 44 per cent compared to January 2017, according to the latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) report from AMT. It was the second-largest January in the 22 years recorded by AMT’s USMTO programme. 

The February 2018 Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business® notes that the PMI® (Purchasing Managers Index) registered 60.8 per cent, an increase of 1.7 percentage points from the January reading of 59.1 per cent and the 18th consecutive month of expansion. A reading above 50 per cent indicates the manufacturing economy is generally expanding. 

Other positive indicators include U.S. cutting tool shipments, a metric produced by the U.S. Cutting Tool Institute (USCTI) and AMT. With a year-to-date total of US$ 2.195 billion, cutting tool shipments for 2017 were up 8.3 per cent over 2016. The Michigan Consumer Confidence Index rose to 120 in March, the highest level in over 14 years.

Industry capacity utilisation stands at 78 per cent and is headed toward 80 per cent, which economists consider a key metric that signals full utilisation. At this point, supply chain and labour constraints can hinder further expansion. Some of the strongest U.S. segments include automotive (82.9 per cent capacity utilisation), aerospace (77.6 per cent) and energy and power generation (79.8 per cent) segments.

“Growth-minded visitors will attend IMTS 2018 looking for solutions that remove production bottlenecks,” added Eelman. “For many manufacturers, simply doing more of the same thing in a larger space or adding more people isn’t a viable option. Growth requires change, and visitors view IMTS as a change agent. They come to the show knowing that they can find technologies that not just shave minutes off production cycles, but that can positively disrupt their manufacturing approach.”

As an example, visitors will find solutions that automate previously manual processes throughout every IMTS pavilion, especially as it relates to parts handling, finishing, quality control and data management, as well as subtractive and additive processes. 

As of March, more than 1,800 exhibitors have secured more than 1.3 million sq. ft. of exhibit space at the event, which is ranked among the largest trade shows in the world. IMTS hosted its highest number of exhibiting companies ever in 2016 (2,407). 

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KMF employees save company £500,000


May 2018

UK sheet metal specialist, KMF, has celebrated the success of its eighth Productivity Share Scheme, recognising savings of £505,116.54 over the last twelve months. The scheme, which over the last five years has saved the KMF Group over £2.3 million, pays out an annual bonus to any employee spotting an opportunity for process improvement or cost saving within KMF and implementing that idea into a new process. 

The scheme concentrates on the seven key areas of waste, including: over production; inventory; transport; process; idle time; operator motion and bad quality and aims to bring continuous improvement to KMF’s manufacturing operations. 

189 employees from across the KMF Group have contributed to the cost saving scheme this year. 

Sam Dutton, KMF’s productivity scheme administrator who is responsible for organising the initiative, commented: “PPS8 has seen some impressive cost savings and our manufacturing facilities are already reaping the benefits of the process improvements that have been implemented. Our employees are our greatest asset and have the best understanding of our processes and how they could be improved. I continue to be impressed by the attitude and enthusiasm of our staff and am already looking forward to PSS9!”. 

One profitable project from this year’s programme was introduced by KMF employee, Dean Poole. Dean has successfully reduced machine idle time in KMF’s CNC machining facility by increasing the number of parts being cut per cycle on a particular machine. Cutting more parts means that the overall run time for all parts in comparison is reduced. Before PSS8, a cycle time of five minutes was required to cut two parts. Thanks to Dean’s innovation, CNC machines are now set up to cut six parts within a 10-minute cycle… a huge time saving.

Every employee who participated in this year’s PSS received a certificate at a short presentation on 26 March 2018.

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