A Unified Supply Chain

The merger of two key trade organizations is good for U.S. manufacturers and, ultimately, for ordinary consumers.

Columns From: 3/22/2012 Modern Machine Shop, ,

Editor's Commentary

The new AMT is well- positioned to enable its members to guide their end-user customers.

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Mark Albert

Mark has been writing his Mark: My Word column every month since January, 1981.

 
Last month, AMT—The Association For Manufacturing Technology and the American Machine Tool Distributors Association (AMTDA) announced that their planned merger had been finalized. The consolidated organization will retain the AMT name, but a new logo symbolizing the resulting synergy has been adopted.
 
What is emerging is a stronger, larger trade group that represents companies positioned along the breadth of the manufacturing technology supply chain. AMT’s traditional constituency has been OEMs that develop and market machine tools and other manufacturing equipment. AMTDA has served firms involved in the distribution, implementation and support of machine tools and related equipment or supplies. The roles of these member companies were once rather distinct (yet complementary), but they have become increasingly blended over the years. All are involved in providing industry with manufacturing technology, that is, the physical pieces of equipment as well as the know-how to apply it effectively. Likewise, all have a stake in protecting and promoting a favorable environment for U.S. manufacturing.
 
For this reason, the merger is a welcome development for their customers—the end users of manufacturing technology. Their needs and interests are now likely to influence machine design and technology innovation more directly. Support of equipment throughout its entire life cycle is likely to be seamless and more consistent. Integration of diverse systems into comprehensive solutions is likely to be streamlined and more coherent. End users can expect timely and more finely focused trade events such as exhibitions and educational conferences. Most importantly, support for training initiatives and skills development programs will be unified and more intense.
 
The landscape of manufacturing is changing. American shops and plants are busy again, so resolving bottlenecks such as equipment capacity constraints or shortages in the skilled workforce is a persistent short-term challenge. However, other, more fundamental, shifts are now underway. For example, inventors, designers, engineers and entrepreneurs will be entering the manufacturing industry as close collaborators and even as direct competitors. Processes such as additive manufacturing and on-demand digital production are removing barriers, and redefining the when, where and how of manufacturing. The new AMT is well-positioned to enable its members to guide their end-user customers in this transition and capitalize on opportunities only glimpsed today.
 
Finally, this merger is likely to benefit the ordinary U.S. consumer. Ultimately, the strength of a country’s manufacturing industry can be evaluated by how it improves consumer access to affordable, high-quality goods—the cars they buy, the planes on which they fly, the appliances on which they rely and so on. Because the merger promises to help strengthen American manufacturing, it is bound to benefit the consumer. Even on the retail level, this will be reflected on both the price tag of the goods and the country-of-origin sticker on the bottom.
 

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