OPTIMISM RETURNS AS MANUFACTURING PICKS UP CHICAGO—A growing sense of optimism is returning to the manufacturing sector, evoked by improved revenues, customer demand and hiring expectations, according to the fourth Prime Advantage Group Outlook (GO) survey, which seeks to reveal the top economic concerns of midsized industrial manufacturers. Prime Advantage is a buying consortium for midsized industrial manufacturers. Among the highlights of the survey findings, 80% of respondents indicated that they expected revenue for the second half of 2009 to either stay the same or increase. This is a dramatic turnaround from the February GO survey, in which only 38% were predicting revenues to either stay the same as 2008 or increase. Also, this time just 31% said that capital spending would likely decrease from the first half of 2009, whereas the February GO survey results found 66% of respondents indicating that capital spending would decrease from 2008 levels. This turnaround is reflective of U.S. Commerce Department data showing durable goods orders have been steadily increasing. In addition, the ISM’s Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for August also was at its highest level in more than a year, reaching a growth mode for the first time in 20 months. Survey data was collected in August from 96 representatives of industrial manufacturing companies, including business owners, vice presidents of procurement and purchasing professionals.The survey polled respondents on their projections for the last six months of the year, in comparison to the first six months. “The results of the latest Group Outlook survey show that small and midsized industrial manufacturers,across many sectors, are seeing new orders materialize after many months of slow activity due to challenging financial and economic conditions as they capitalize on new product development and new market penetration,” says Louise O’Sullivan, president and founder of Prime Advantage. “With inventories lean, and reflective of demand, many manufacturers waited to replenish stock until as late as possible, but these results indicate that the recovery is starting to gain traction across a broad spectrum of our economy and that new orders are coming in.” NIST HONORED BY AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ACTION GROUP GAITHERSBURG, MD—The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has been awarded the 2009 Automotive Industry Action Group’s (AIAG) Chairman’s Award, the organization’s highest honor. NIST was honored for its more than 14 years of work with AIAG. AIAG credited the collaborations with delivering tens of millions of dollars in cost savings to the automotive industry.NIST’s contributions to AIAG have been in engineering and product development, electronic commerce and supply chain management. NIST’s Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory contributed to several standards efforts, including the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) standard for the exchange of product model data, product data management interoperability, dimensional mark-up language standardization, quality measurement data specification development, inventory visibility and interoperability guidelines, and intercontinental supply chain management. Researcher Peter Denno of NIST’s Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory also was recognized for his contribution to AIAG with a 2009 Outstanding Achievement Award for his leadership and contributions on the Materials Off- Shore Sourcing (MOSS) data standardization and process management supply chain management project. Denno led the development of information exchange standards for the MOSS project to improve the efficiency of operating long-distance supply chains of ocean-going automotive parts into U.S. assembly plants. Supply chain logistics account for about 10% of the cost of the average car—the same amount as labor. Denno also received the Outstanding Achievement Award in 2008. FISKER TO BUY U.S. ASSEMBLY PLANT FOR HYBRID PRODUCTION WILMINGTON, DE—Fisker Automotive, a privately owned American automotive company, has selected the Wilmington assembly plant in Wilmington, DE, for use in the manufacture of plug-in hybrid cars. Fisker executives made the announcement inside the dormant facility, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, Delaware Governor Jack Markell and other state officials. The plant will support Fisker Automotive’s Project NINA, the development and manufacture of a familyoriented plug-in hybrid sedan costing about $39,900 after federal tax credits. Production is scheduled to begin in late 2012. Fisker Automotive anticipates Project NINA will ultimately create or support 2,000 factory jobs and more than 3,000 vendor and supplier jobs by 2014, as production ramps up to full capacity of 75,000 to 100,000 vehicles per year. More than half will be exported, the largest percentage of any domestic manufacturer. The modernized Wilmington assembly plant was selected for its size, production capacity, world-class paint facilities, access to shipping ports, rail lines and available skilled workforce. “This is a major step toward establishing America as a leader of advanced vehicle technology,” says Henrik Fisker, chief executive officer. “Wilmington is perfect for high-quality, low-volume production and will soon be the proud builder of world-class, fuel-efficient Fisker plug-in hybrids.” Fisker Automotive has signed a letter of intent with Motors Liquidation Co. (MLC), formerly known as General Motors Corp., to purchase the Wilmington plant for $18 million after a routine four-month evaluation period. An additional $175 million will be spent to refurbish and retool the factory during the next three years. Funds will come from a conditional loan of $528.7 million that the Department of Energy awarded the company in September. The loan is part of the $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program appropriated by Congress in 2007 to help the United States lead in the development and manufacture of advanced technology vehicles. The company says that its first car, the Fisker Karma, will be the world’s first production plug-in hybrid when it goes on sale during the 2010 summer at retailers in the U.S. and Europe. AMT ELECTS BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND OFFICERS MCLEAN, VA—The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) has named its 2010 officers and directors. The board of directors elected Daniel D. Janka, president, MAG Global (Hebron, KY), as chairman. He replaces Ronald F. Schildge, president, Eitel Presses Inc. (Orwigsburg, PA).Schildge will now serve the association as an ex-officio member of its board of directors, along with Doug Currie, president and chief executive officer, Erie Press Systems (Erie, PA). The board elected Eugene R. Haffely Jr., chief operating officer, Assembly & Test Worldwide Inc. (Dayton, OH), to serve as first vice chairman in the coming year. Also elected was Timothy B. Dining, president and chief executive officer, Greenerd Press and Machine Co. Inc. (Nashua, NH), to serve as second vice chairman and treasurer. Kim W. Beck, president and chief executive officer, Automatic Feed Co.(Napoleon, OH), will continue to serve as secretary. Newly elected to a three-year term as a member of the association’s board of directors is Steven R. Stokey, executive vice president, Allied Machine & Engineering Corp. (Dover, OH). Carl Reed, president and chief executive officer, Abbott Workholding Products (Manhattan, KS), will return for a three-year term. U.VA. HELPS BREAK GROUND ON ROLLS-ROYCE AEROSPACE FACILITY CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA— Crosspointe, home to a higher education partnership founded by the University of Virginia (U.Va.), Virginia Tech, the commonwealth of Virginia, Rolls-Royce Plc and others, has begun construction in Prince George County, VA. At more than 1,000 acres, Crosspointe is the largest Rolls-Royce site—by area— in North America and the company’s first manufacturing facility built from the ground up in the United States. It will house the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM), a partnership founded by the state, U.Va., Virginia Tech, Rolls-Royce and other partners. The vision for CCAM is to become a world-class research facility delivering improved aerospace design and manufacturing technologies. About 200 people attended the groundbreaking. Governor Timothy M. Kaine called the start of construction good news in challenging economic times, according to a report in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “This investment means a lot of things,” Kaine says. “For those who wonder about whether manufacturing in the United States is dead or being off-shored, this is a strong investment on the ground to say, ‘No, manufacturing is not only alive, manufacturing is thriving with innovation and technology and educational partnerships.’” Leonard W. Sandridge, U.Va.’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, says the groundbreaking, three years in the making, is an important milestone. “It recognizes the hard work and cooperation that have produced a mutually beneficial public/private partnership that can make Virginia a national leader in engineering education, advanced manufacturing and the aerospace industry,” Sandridge says. Rolls-Royce, with its North American headquarters in Reston, VA, initially is planning to invest $170 million and hire 140 people at the plant.The investment and hiring eventually could grow to $500 million and 500 jobs. So far, about 60 acres have been cleared at the site, and the company said it now has about 60 employees in Virginia working on the project. The factory is expected to be up and running by early 2011.
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