With a reading of 53.4, Gardner’s metalworking business index showed that conditions in metalworking continued to expand at a significant rate in February. The industry has grown four of the last five months, although February’s rate of growth was slightly slower than the rate of growth in January. The index was 7.7 percent higher than it was one year earlier, which is the sixth straight month that has happened.
New orders and production grew for the fifth consecutive month. While the rate of growth slowed slightly for both indices in February, they remain on uptrends that started in August 2013. The backlog index contracted slightly after growing in January for the first time in nearly two years. The trend in backlogs indicates that capacity utilization and capital equipment spending in the metalworking industry should increase in 2014. Employment grew at the same strong rate as January, while exports continued to contract, although at one of the slower rates in the last 18 months. Supplier deliveries have been lengthening at a slightly increased rate since August 2013.
Material prices increased at a faster rate in February and are growing at their fastest rate in a year. Prices received increased for the third month in a row; however, they are increasing at a much slower rate than material prices. Future business expectations were unchanged from January and are at their highest level since March 2012.
The rate of growth increased at facilities with 20 or more employees, while shops with fewer employees contracted once again after growing in January.
Future capital spending plans fell 20.4 percent compared with one year earlier. This was the second month in a row that the month-over-month rate of change contracted. The annual rate of change contracted in February after growing the previous three months
The March spotlight highlights machining centers from builders including Makino, Mazak, Doosan
and Chiron (pictured above).
The Modern Equipment Review Spotlight section in our March issue delves into the world of machining centers, including machines ranging from compact VMCs to the large five-axis T1 machine from Makino (top image, above). Click through the slideshow for more on this month’s featured products or visit the Machining Centers & Milling Machines Zone for additional content.
With the iconic Art Deco façade of the Arizona Biltmore in the background, AMT's 2014 IMTS and Smartforce Rally Fighter sports cars bask in the bright Southwest sunshine.
For many of us in manufacturing, it seems that the industry is enjoying a figurative springtime of renewed vitality and growth. So it is appropriate that The MFG Meeting, an important event that brings together machine builders, distributors and end users from all areas of the manufacturing technology industry, opens today at the Arizona Biltmore near Phoenix.
This setting represents a fitting convergence of history, style and flowery splendor that reminds visitors from wintry regions of the country that springtime (the warming season of the year, that is) is not far off. The MFG Meeting is a joint event for members of AMT-The Association For Manufacturing Technology, the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) and the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA). Conference presentations, technical sessions and activities at the event are designed to help attending members maintain the momentum that has been propelling the manufacturing industry in recent years—a welcome turnaround that many pundits only a few years ago predicted would never happen.
The Arizona Biltmore is an historic resort hotel, the design of which was heavily influenced by America's most original architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, who helped oversee construction of the complex in the late 1920s. The hotel's bold, yet intricate, styling still seem fresh, hopeful and appealing—exactly the sort of image that manufacturing is projecting to a new generation of entrepreneurs, technicians, engineers and apprentices.
The hotel and its lush landscaping proved to be the ideal setting for a pair of the daringly different vehicles brought to the event by AMT. The 2014 International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) and Smartforce Rally Fighters are characterized as the world's first open-source production vehicles, designed and developed by a collaboration between Local Motors and a global community of designers, fabricators, engineers and auto enthusiasts. The vehicles represent a new era in manufacturing that is based on the latest advances in digital manufacturing, one of the trends being discussed and promoted at The MFG Meeting.
PMPA Member President Darlene Miller (center) reported at a recent PMPA conference that PMTS has been recognized as one of the 50 fastest growing tradeshows by Trade Show Executive magazine. Right and left photos were taken at PMTS 2013.
Trade Show Executive magazine has recognized the Precision Machining and Technology Show (PMTS) in its “Fastest 50 Class of 2014,” a list of the fastest growing tradeshows across multiple industries. The magazine compares shows’ growth percentages in three distinct categories: total square footage, total number of attendees and total number of exhibotors. PMTS, which is managed and produced by MMS publisher Gardner Business Media and co-sponsored by MMS and its sister publication Production Machining, was one of the elite shows that qualified in all three growth categories. Winners of each category will be announced at the Fastest 50 Awards & Summit in Chicago May 20-22.
PMPA Member President Darlene Miller reported this news during the recent Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) Management Update Conference. She recognized Gardner, Production Machining and PMTS for their support and development of the precision machining industry.
Ms. Miller encouraged every company at the conference to exhibit or attend PMTS, which is positioned to be even bigger in 2015. The show will take place April 21-23 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. Find out more about PMTS.
There are advantages to having a single operator tend multiple machines and/or performing other tasks while a machine is making chips. However, if the operator isn’t aware that a machining cycle has been completed, the machine could potentially sit idle for an extended period of time. This can be especially true when jobs have long cycle times.
One shop came up with a simple solution to prevent this from happening, and it offers the solution to others facing similar situations. Produced by C&C Manufacturing, the “Short Stop” wireless device minimizes machine downtime by alerting a machine operator that a machining cycle has been completed.
The video above shows how it works. After a cycle has ended, a Short Stop transmitter is installed in the machine’s spindle. The machine moves the transmitter to trigger an actuator button that sends a signal to a receiver that is located somewhere near an operator to alert him/her that the cycle has ended.
When not being used, the transmitter can be stored in the machine’s ATC magazine like any other tool. Its circuit board is coated to prevent damage due to vibration during changeout and its housing is sealed with an o-ring. The transmitter can also be moved from one machine to another as needed.