MANUFACTURERS' OPTIMISM FOR THE U.S. AND WORLD ECONOMY HITS NEW LOW NEW YORK, NY-Optimism about the prospects for the U.S. and world economy during the next 12 months hit all-time lows among U.S. industrial manufacturers, according to the findings of the Q3 2011 Manufacturing Barometer released by PwC US. While only 5% of U.S. industrial manufacturers are optimistic about the prospects of the U.S. economy during the next 12 months, the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2008, a vast majority are uncertain, rather than outright pessimistic. Despite those uncertainties, U.S. industrial manufacturers during the next 12 months expect positive own-company growth, are planning major new investments of capital, and are forecasting international sales to more heavily contribute to their bottom lines. "There has been a significant shift away from optimism for the U.S economy among U.S. industrial manufacturers over the past three months," says Barry Misthal, global industrial manufacturing leader for PwC. "Yet they aren't pessimistic, which aligns with how they positively view their own revenue prospects and are positioning and driving their businesses for growth in the next 12 months. The findings of the Q3 barometer suggest that the strategic investments and plans being made by U.S. industrial manufacturers are strengthening their company's potential in the face of an uncertain economic environment." While the projected average growth rate for own-company revenue during the next 12 months fell to 5% from 6.5% in the second quarter, 75% of panelists expect their companies to grow during the next 12 months. Of those expecting growth, 22% forecast double-digit growth and 53% single-digit growth, while 20% forecast zero growth and only 5% expect negative growth. Looking ahead, only 5% of respondents expressed optimism about the 12-month outlook for the U.S. economy, down 43 points from the second quarter. The vast majority, 77%, were uncertain while 18% were pessimistic. Prospects for the world economy during the next 12 months echoed similar trends for the U. S. economic outlook, with only 7% of U.S.-based industrial manufacturers that market abroad being optimistic about the prospects for the world economy during the next 12 months, down 31 points from the prior quarter. The majority, 72%, are uncertain and 21% are pessimistic. "Looking back to the fourth quarter of 2008 when optimism was at an equivalent low but pessimism prevailed, the average 12-month forecast was minus 2.4%, dramatically lower than the current 5% average level," notes Misthal."In contrast, the current forecasts remain pretty strong for U.S. industrial manufacturers-albeit a bit lower than the calendar year 2011 revenue growth forecasts of 5.6%. This may suggest that U. S. industrial manufacturers are more concerned with future growth beyond 2011 and potential softness in 2012, which will make comparisons to this year more difficult." In the third quarter of 2011, 80% of surveyed U.S. industrial manufacturers saw no change in the U.S. economy from the second quarter, while 13% believed it was declining. Only 7% believed the U.S. economy was growing, down 50 points from the prior quarter. Similarly, the majority of respondents (56%) that market abroad viewed the world economy as unchanged in the third quarter when Compared to the second quarter. Only 7% of the panelists noted the world economy was growing, down 34 points from the prior quarter while 37% believed it was declining. U. S.-based industrial manufacturers that sell abroad continued to see upward movement in international revenue in the third quarter of 2011, as 48% reported an increase in sales and only 8% reported a decrease during the past three months. Forty-four percent said sales remained about the same. The projected contribution of international sales to total revenue during the next 12 months rose two points to 38% from 36% in the second quarter, the second consecutive quarterly increase. "More than 90% of respondents noted international sales were either up or the same compared to three months ago and projections continue to rise, demonstrating that they are finding good opportunities to expand their businesses overseas to confront concerns over a retrenching U.S. economy," adds Misthal. NISSAN TO OVERHAUL QUALITY CONTROL FOR IMPROVEMENT YOKOHAMA, JAPAN-Nissan Motor Co. Is set to overhaul its quality control system amid lower-than-expected showing in the recent U.S.-based 2011 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Survey. With the Japanese giant finishing 25th in the dependability survey for a second year in a row, Kazumasa Katoh, senior Nissan vice president in charge of global quality, was set to unveil the company's latest quality-focused business plan in November. According to a recent interview with Automotive News, Katoh said the initiative was partially fuelled by Nissan's worse than expected performance in the J.D. Power survey. In 2010 Nissan came 12th in the quality survey (now 24th) and managed an above average place of 18th for dependability in 2008 (now 25th). The company is expected to focus on two areas for improvement: perceived quality and soft quality. The first relates to customer perception of quality more than anything else, which in this case is most likely in regards to touch and feel. The second is attention to fit and finish and improved internal controls, such as air conditioning and audio/visual. Some of these so called quality issues are not actually issues so to speak, they are likely to be annoying implementation of features. For example, customers in the United States have complained that Nissan's climate control system is too complicated, requiring far too many buttons to get things started. Additional complaints in regards to its satellite navigation and entertainment systems also is playing against Nissan as the company believes more of its customers are likely to pick high-tech options than those buying competitor cars. For example, a Nissan Maxima with a high-end satellite navigation system may get more complaints when compared to a similar vehicle without the system simply because of user frustration at understanding how the system works. The additional complaints per car may, in this example, have little to do with the overall quality of the car itself. The company plans to be in the top three non-premium brands (in North America) for dependability and quality by 2016. GE BREAKS GROUND ON INSPECTION TECHNOLOGIES CENTER LEWISTOWN, PA-GE is investing more than $10 million to expand its inspection technologies headquarters site in Lewistown, PA. Key features of the expansion project include a new global customer applications center as well as a nondestructive testing (NDT) academy for GE employees and customers. U. S. Rep. Glenn Thompson and Pennsylvania state Sen.Jake Corman, whose respective legislative districts include GE's Lewistown facility, joined local officials as well as GE executives and the plant's workforce for a ground-breaking ceremony at the site. GE's current 82,000-square-foot facility employs more than 230 people in the production of NDT inspection tools used by companies in the oil and gas, power generation, metals manufacturing, automotive and aerospace sectors. GE's Inspection Technologies business is continuing to grow as more industrial operators embrace the use of NDT solutions to monitor the condition of their equipment and more accurately predict when certain components might need repair or replacement-thus helping them to avoid costly, unplanned maintenance outages. GE's 52,000-square-foot expansion project will increase the facility's floor space by more than 63% and is scheduled to be completed in 2012. "Our new expansion will allow us to proceed with our ambitious plans for our customer applications center and NDT Academy, while providing us with the extra space we need to upgrade our manufacturing capabilities," says Jeff Anderson, senior executive, product management for GE's Inspection Technologies business. The expansion will enable GE to maintain its position as a leader in developing and manufacturing a wide range of remote visual inspection, ultrasonic, electromagnetic, advanced radiography and computed tomography systems as well as data management software. These NDT systems are used to help extend the life of industrial assets in the oil and gas, power generation, metals manufacturing, automotive and aerospace sectors by providing timely, quality assessments of equipment used by these industrial sectors. GE's technology also is used to inspect the quality and integrity of new products-such as jet engine blades before they are installed-and infrastructure assets including bridges and pipelines. Key growth areas for GE's inspection technologies business are composites; weld inspections and corrosion monitoring for bridges, pipelines and other structures; and rotating machinery including jet engines and wheels. For example, the growing use of composite materials by aerospace and wind turbine blade manufacturers is driving a demand for more advanced inspection solutions since the primary method for inspecting these composites is ultrasound. Upon completion, GE's new customer applications center will work with GE customers to help solve the world's toughest inspection challenges. Currently GE hosts more than 200 customer visits a year at the site; a number that will increase with the larger space. "The expansion project will allow us to expand our new product development, manufacturing and training and create a world-class inspection technologies headquarters that reflects our leadership presence in the NDT industry," Anderson says. Meanwhile, GE's planned NDT Academy will be used to train both GE employees and customers on GE's latest NDT tools, helping address a global shortage of well-trained NDT personnel. The training academy also will offer partnership opportunities for local colleges and universities. "This expansion project will be of great benefit to the central Pennsylvania region as GE's Lewistown site currently spends more than $5 million per year with Pennsylvania suppliers, and we will invest millions of dollars in new product development over the next few years," Anderson said. In terms of job creation, the Lewistown site has already added more than 50 positions in 2011, most of them highly technical. The expansion project is expected to enable GE to hire approximately 60 more people during the next three years. PEOPLE NEWS AcousticEye (The Netherlands), a noninvasive tube inspection company for the global heat exchanger market, has appointed YOAV HAREL to the role of CEO. With more than 20 years in leading startups and established companies, Harel has a strong background in leading geographically-dispersed work groups, sales teams and channel partners. In his most recent position, Harel was president for Europe and North America at Orbotech. Nissan Americas (Franklin, TN) has appointed STEVE LAMBERT, president, Nissan Motors Acceptance Corp. (NMAC), to the role of vice president, Information Systems. MARK KACZYNSKI, who currently serves as controller, Sales and Marketing, Nissan Americas, will succeed Lambert as president of NMAC. Pilgrim Software (Tampa, FL), a global provider of enterprise risk, compliance and quality management (ERCQM) software solutions, has appointed THIERRY DURAND to the role of CEO and a director of Pilgrim’s executive board. Durand succeeds Pilgrim Software co-founder Ami Utji as CEO. ASSOCIATION NEWS THE SOCIETY OF MANUFACTURING ENGINEERS (SME), Local Chapter 5 in Chicago, in cooperation with Society of Manufacturing Education Foundation recognized two local high schools in the Chicago metropolitan area for their commitment to manufacturing through education. Wheeling High School (Wheeling, IL) is awarded the Best High School Overall Industrial Machine Shop Program, for its overall industrial machine shop program and integration of machining technologies. In addition, Wheeling's Industrial Technology Council plays a key role in the continued development of young adults into manufacturing skills in high demand in the Chicagoland Area. The Technology Council plays a key role in providing materials, expertise, internships and employment for those ultimately wanting a career in manufacturing, with our without college. East Leyden High School (Franklin Park, IL) is awarded Best High School Industrial Machine Shop Equipment. This award recognizes East Leyden for its commitment to industrial manufacturing by maintaining both manual equipment and newer CNC lathes and mill equipment and integrating them into numerous overall machine shop programs. BUSINESS NEWS OLYMPUS NDT (Waltham, MA) introduced the Industrial Tech Guide App for the iPhone and iPad. This free Olympus mobile application contains two knowledge-based sections designed for technicians performing ultrasonic flaw detection and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) inspections. Available for download in the Apple Application Store, this app will be a helpful tool for inspectors by providing fast and accurate calculations for their applications. In addition, the tool has descriptions of all Olympus industrial instruments with links for detailed product information or to obtain a request for quotation. YXLON INTERNATIONAL (Hamburg, Germany), a global industrial X-ray and CT technology company, celebrated the inauguration of its third location in Germany and ninth site worldwide. A total of 44 company representatives were at the modern premises of the new Yxlon branch at the Zukunftspark, a complex for technology and innovation in Heilbronn. CERTIFIED COMPARATOR PRODUCTS (CCP, Beavercreek, OH) announces plans to move to a new, larger facility in early 2012. CCP has outgrown its existing manufacturing and sales showroom and will soon begin renovations at their new 19,000-square-foot customer center in the same town. MAHR FEDERAL (Providence, RI) celebrated its 150th birthday in August. Founded by Carl Mahr as a small family concern in Esslingen, Germany, on the Neckar River in 1861, the Mahr Group has grown to be a global leader in precision metrology. Celebrations at the Mahr Federal headquarters facility in Providence, RI, included a visit from Mahr Group CEO, Stephan Gais.
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