As I write, winter is releasing its grip on Chicago and half of Americans are at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19. I’m one of them. As I contemplate the rest of the year, the words “restore,” “renew,” “refresh” and “reconnect” — our 2021 media kit’s theme — has new meaning.
No, we’re not out of the woods yet. Recessions take time to overcome. However, signs bode well for manufacturers of metal parts, components, and assemblies.
In March, the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) logged the tenth consecutive month of growth at 64.7% (the highest was 77.5% in July 1950; the lowest, 29.4% in May 1980). Orders, production and employment are up. Of the 18 industries the PMI tracks, Fabricated Metal Products showed the second-strongest growth.
As of March 1, more Precision Metalforming Association members anticipated improved economic activity, orders and shipping levels over the next three months. Layoffs are virtually nil and customers are paying their invoices.
Companies brought work back to the U.S. in record numbers last year, driven in large part by the pandemic, according to the Reshoring Initiative. One-fifth of middle-market manufacturers plan to reshore, according to BDO’s 2021 Manufacturing CFO Outlook Survey, and half plan to identify secondary backup suppliers. While reshoring’s not the first line of defense against faltering sales, the U.S. has the opportunity to reclaim markets — such as the semiconductor chips our automakers can’t get enough of — from overseas competitors.
The one cloud on the horizon is the steel shortage that’s squeezing profit margins by driving up raw-material prices. The 30,000-member Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users and other groups are urging the Biden administration to roll back steel and aluminum tariffs, but whether that will happen remains to be seen.
AND TRADE SHOWS ARE BACK!
Well, almost. I’m sure I’m not the only one who can’t wait for FABTECH in September. Many vendors held impressive virtual events over the last year, but nothing builds relationships like face-to-face contact. While safety remains a concern, I think we’re all ready to physically interact with equipment and tools instead of watching them on a screen.
Do you plan to go? If so, as an exhibitor or attendee? What’s your No. 1 goal for the show? And in the meantime, stay well.
AIDA-America’s 300-Ton Servo Press Increases Productivity at Graham Stamping
AIDA-America Corp. (Dayton, OH) provided Graham Stamping Co. (Hermitage, PA) with a 300-ton unitized frame servo press, the DSF-N2-3000 press.
Beckwood Delivers Hydraulic and Servo-Electric Presses to Supplier of Solid-State Batteries
Beckwood Press Co. (St. Louis, MO) has delivered a 500-ton, 4-post hydraulic press and a 50-ton servo-electric press to a U.S. manufacturer of solid-state batteries.
ATI Industrial Automation Acquired by Novanta
As of August 31, ATI Industrial Automation (Apex, NC) was officially purchased by Novanta Inc. (Bedford, MA). Novanta provides laser systems, vision systems, and motion-control components to manufacturers of medical equipment and advanced industrial equipment.