July orders for autos and auto parts experienced their largest increase in eight years at 11.5%, according to Commerce Department data.

Automakers have also added about 90,000 manufacturing jobs in the past two years, and dealerships have reported increases in sales and hiring.

Precision Machining Shops we talk with are full and the average first shift scheduled for our industry is over 44 hours.

 I spoke with a shop last week scheduling 60 hours- one day off a week.

The U.S. auto industry employs about 1.7 million workers and supports an additional 6.3 million private-sector jobs, according to the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. The center said those positions represent more than $500 billion in annual compensation. [p]

The Precision Machining Industry typically reports 25% of its shipments as “automotive.” There are 3,296 companies and just under 100,000 employees in our NAICS code 332721.

Full story at LATimes

Industry Week’s report on the AISI’s annual meeting in Colorado Springs is the Official report on AISI website.
Here are a few key highlights.

  • U.S. steel shipments will rise 14% in 2011 to approximately 90 million tons as the industry continues to rebound from the recession,  according to Nucor Chairman and CEO Daniel DiMicco
  •  In March finished steel imports into the United States rose to their highest level since January 2009, said DiMicco, who also serves as AISI chairman.
  •  Demand from the commercial and residential construction industry remains weak and is not expected to reach pre-recession levels until 2012 at the earliest, said DiMicco.
  •  Increased demand from infrastructure construction projects has the potential create up to 3 million jobs over the next several years, said Mario Longhi, president and CEO of Gerdau Ameristeel Corp. and AISI director.

PMPA’s own Business Trends shows a recovery in progress. AISI reporting Steel Shipments up 14% and record imports confirm this- Steel is foundational to economic activity.
If you think steel prices are high now wait until  commercial and residential construction recovers in a year or so…

The products of the shops that belong to the Precision Machined Products Association are incorporated in nearly every technology. Automotive, Medical, Aerospace, Home technologies like HVAC,  Gas and Electric Appliances, Plumbing, Electrical, Electronic, and a host of others you might not think of like Food and Beverage Equipment, Munitions, Off Road and Construction Equipment.

A record high for our industry sales index!

PMPA’s Index of Sales of Precision Machined Products in March 2011 jumped to 129, a newrecord high. The previous high value for our Sales Index was 128, achieved and reported only twice before- in March of 2007 and in March 2006. This was a 15% increase over February’s index of 112 (adjusted to 112, originally reported as 110); it reflects a 42% increase in sales from December 2010 levels.

Over 80 shops participated. Sixty-four percent of respondents reported double digit sales increases.

Given the ubiquity of the applications for precision machined components in manufactured goods of all types, the PMPA’s latest Business Trends Sales Index provides compelling evidence of the recovery of manufacturing.

 Media Contact: Miles Free or Mike Duffin at PMPA

And Precision Machining is likely to show a similar pickup when we compile our numbers later this month.

Picking up steam!

Precision machined components are critical to many manufactured goods in many markets including automotive, off road, aerospace, medical, appliance and many, many,  more.
The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) said its survey of purchasing managers nationwide revealed strong gains in new orders and production; its index  rose to to 56.9%, from 54.5% in September. you can read their survey here.
Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 14 are reporting growth in October, in the following order: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Primary Metals; Petroleum & Coal Products; Machinery; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Fabricated Metal Products; Paper Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Transportation Equipment; Computer & Electronic Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; and Chemical Products.
The two industries reporting contraction in October are: Nonmetallic Mineral Products; and Furniture & Related Products.
Manufacturing activity has expanded for 15 consecutive months but the rate of growth has been slowing since April. This latest strong showing provides hope for continued growth for the balance through the end of the year.
“This month’s report signals a continuation of the recovery that began 15 months ago, and its strength raises expectations for growth in the balance of the quarter,” said Norbert Ore, head of the ISM’s manufacturing business survey committee.

The PMPA Business Trends Index showed a surprisingly strong August.

Remarkable compared to same month last year...

PMPA’s Index of Sales of Precision Machined Products in August 2010 climbed to 108, a surprisingly strong showing. The 8 percent increase in industry sales helped August to tie with June for the Sales Index High of the year to date, and since May 2009. August is the 6th month of what we have termed the new normal of sales at the Year 2000 baseline.  August 2010 is up 34 points over August 2009. Two thirds of our respondents reported single or double digit gains in sales in August.
Members can download the full report here.

The PMPA Business Trends Index of Sales for March 2010 reached the 100 mark.

This is auspicious because that 100 value means that our sales level in March 2010 is essentially the same as our average sales for the year 2000, which is the base year  (2000=100) for our index calculation.

Finally back to 2000 sales levels in March of 2010.

We have lost a decade!
Hooray- because we are up 36 points from the low of May 2009 at 64.
Hooray- because we are achieving those year 2000 sales numbers with the lessons we learned during the lost decade: lean operations, lean setups, cellular operations. Working smarter. Maximizing use of our equipment’s capability. Tapping the ingenuity of our savvy employees.
Here is our narrative from the  March Business Trends Report  
Now, about that Lost Decade:
During the lost decade, we learned which jobs we could do where we added sufficient value to be the manufacturer.  And which jobs were of so little value added that they would inevitably be made in low cost economies.
During the lost decade, I think we also learned the lesson that some customers are bullies and not profitable- more difficulties than they are worth.
And as we continue our lunge to profitability, I am seeing many signs that our industry knows what to do with those customers.
Arrogant demands get their due.


Here’s the latest  bullet points from AMT, The Association for Manufacturing Technology:

4 Green shoots for Manufacturing.

  1. February U.S. manufacturing technology consumption totaled $163.96 million,
  2.  This is up 28.8% from January
  3. This up 22.1% from the total of $134.34 million reported for February 2009.
  4. Year-to-date total of $291.27 million, 2010 is up 22.3% compared with 2009.

How about some hollandaise for these green shoots?
You can see the full national and regional report at AMTonline.
Photo credit.

11 industries reported expansion in February. The Precision Machined Products Industry, a sub industry of Fabricated Metals, serves 7 of these  industries showing the greatest recovery.
Here are the sectors that reported expansion that precision machining serves:

  1. Machinery; 
  2. Computer & Electronic Products;
  3. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  4. Transportation Equipment;
  5. Electrical Equipment;
  6. Appliances & Components;
  7. Fabricated Metal Products;

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in February for the seventh consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 10th consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®.
The PMI index for February was 56.5 down 1.9 percentage points from January. Because the PMI is above 50, the manufacturing economy is expanding.

How can they run out of vanilla?

According to ISM  steel, stainless steel, and aluminum are increasing in price.
Anecdotal data from our conversations with members confirms the ISM numbers, and points out that the metals named above are both more expensive and in short supply.
You know business is improving when they are out of plain vanilla.

The December ISM Purchasing Managers Report confirms that manufacturing continues its recovery and growth – the PMI was up 2.3 points to 55.9%.
 “The manufacturing sector grew for the fifth consecutive month in December as the PMI rose to 55.9 percent, its highest reading since April 2006 when it registered 56 percent. This month’s report is quite strong as both the New Orders and Production Indexes are above 60 percent. The sector may be benefiting from an excessive destocking cycle as indicated by the recent performance of the Customers’ Inventories Index. Customers’ inventories have been ‘too low’ for nine consecutive months, and this month’s index is the lowest reading since the inception of the index in January 1997. Overall, the recovery in manufacturing is continuing, but there are still some industries mired in the downturn as evidenced by the seven industries still in decline.”
Fabricated Metal Products (NAICS 332)*  is one of those  seven industries “still mired in the downturn.” In December  the fabricated metals respondents reported decreases in  backlog,  employment,  customer inventories, and lower prices for materials. On the bright side, both production and  export orders grew for this sector in December 2009.

Fabricated metals may not be out of the woods yet, but...

We may not be out of the woods yet as an industry,   but the sustained low employment and low customer inventories for our industry tell me that the overtime production machine will be gearing up and starting to hum for many of our shops this month.
Bottom Line: Dr. Ken Mayland of Clearview Economics had this to say about the ISM Composite Report for December:
“…if the current reading were to be sustained, that would be consistent with 4.6% real GDP growth.  Folks: that’s “good” growth!”
* Precision Machining  Industry is NAICS 332721, and thus a segment of Fabricated Metal Products Sector.

ISM’s report of manufacturing’s expansion for the fourth , and economic expansion for seventh month in a row,  combined with PMPA’s  Business Trends Index improvement for 5 consecutive months,  confirm that we are in a recovery phase, rather than the free fall we just survived.
What should we be doing differently in the recovery phase, compared to what we  needed to do while we were free falling?

ISM values over 50 indicate expansion of manufacturing.

The latest Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Report for November showed that Manufacturing expanded for the fourth month in a row. While the Purchasing Manager’s Index decreased from 55.7 in October to 53.6 in November, the fact that the November value is above 50 indicates that mnufacturing activity continues to expand.
The Precision Machined Products Association’s Business Trends Index of Sales  for October was up for the fifth month in a row, to 85, its highest value for the year.  Almost three quarters of PMPA Business Trends respondents expect industry sales to remain at current levels or increase.
This reinforces the signal from ISM’s New Orders measure, which climbed to 60.3 in November from October ‘s 58.5. (The tie-in for precision machined components and manufactured goods  should need little explanation- our products are the enablers of multiple technologies in automotive, appliances, aerospace, electrical/electronic, heavy truck, off road, and medical  products to name a few.
These are not the halcyon days of  “ship it, ship it, ship it.,” that seem like distant, almost forgotten memories. But ISM’s report of manufacturing’s expansion for the fourth , and economic expansion for seventh month in a row,  combined with PMPA’s  Business Trends Index improvement for 5 consecutive months,  confirm that we are in a recovery phase, rather than the free fall we just survived.
What are your doing differently now? What lessons have you learned? What is your new top priority every day?