BUSINESS NEWS | COMING EVENTS | PEOPLE NEWS | MERGERS AIRBUS DELIVERS 7,000TH AIRCRAFT TOULOUSE, FRANCE—Airbus’ delivery of its 7,000th aircraft in December 2011 marked a new achievement as the company continues to accelerate the production output of its single-aisle and widebody jetliners in meeting demand from a widening global customer base. This delivery was a member of the A320 Family, which is one of the world’s best-selling commercial aircraft product lines—with more than 4,900 provided from the more than 8,250 ordered by 340-plus customers around the globe. The other Airbus aircraft contributing to this delivery milestone were its cornerstone medium-haul A300 and A310, of which 816 were supplied during its successful production run; the long-range A330 and A340, with 1,200-plus provided through the end of November 2011, along with the more than 60 very large A380 jetliners received by airlines through early December 2011. Overall, Airbus’ production output has been increasing since the company handed over its first aircraft in May 1974: an A300B2. In March 1993, the 1,000th delivery landmark occurred with an A340-300, followed by the 2,000th handover in May 1999, which also was an A340-300. Underscoring its rapid growth with an expanded aircraft family, the 3,000th Airbus aircraft delivery was an A320 provided in July 2002, while only three years later—in September 2005— an A330-300 became the 4,000th aircraft supplied to a customer. Just two years afterward, the 5,000th milestone was achieved in December 2007 with an A330-200. The 6,000thdelivery in January 2010—involving an A380—further confirmed the company’s continued leading role as a provider of highly efficient aircraft to airline operators and customers around the world. For the 7,000th jetliner handover in December 2011, the aircraft was an A321 provided to United States-based US Airways, which is one of Airbus’ biggest single airline clients, and also has the distinction of flying the largest A320 family inventory of any carrier. THE SNAKE RETURNS TO CHRYSLER GROUP’S CONNER AVENUE ASSEMBLY PLANT AUBURN HILLS, MI—Chrysler Group LLC will reopen its Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit for the production of the next generation SRT Viper. With the plant’s reopening, nearly 150 jobs, both hourly and salaried, will return to the city of Detroit. The Conner facility was idled when production of the Dodge Viper ended in July 2010. “The next generation Viper will make its return to the product lineup in late 2012 as a 2013 model,” says Ralph Gilles, president and CEO, SRT Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC. “We’re extremely excited that our ultimate American sports car will continue to live on and be produced exclusively here in the Motor City.” Current Chrysler Group hourly employees who previously worked at Conner were first offered the opportunity to return to their home plant. The balance of the positions will be filled by hourly employees volunteering to transfer to the Conner Avenue plant. Conner Avenue will begin building the new Viper in late 2012, but employees began reporting for training and orientation in the fall of 2011. In preparation for the reopening, the Conner facility will begin its transformation by implementing worldclass manufacturing, a system that is focused on reducing waste and making continuous improvements throughout the assembly process to improve quality and productivity. The Conner Avenue Assembly Plant was built in 1966 and purchased by Chrysler in 1995. Viper production began in May 1992 at the New Mack Assembly Plant and was moved to Conner Avenue in October 1995. Prowler production began in May 1997 and ended in February 2002. Viper V-10 engine production was transferred from Mound Road Engine to ConnerAssembly in May 2001. In 2003, the newly engineered SRT10 Roadster hit the market and the SRT10 Coupe followed in 2005. With a production run of 28,056, Viper production ended on July 2, 2010. As a result, the facility was idled. MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY DEMAND STRONG AMID OTHER ECONOMIC WEAKNESS MCLEAN, VA—September U.S. manufacturing technology orders put the year-to-date total at approximately $4 billion, which is up 91.9% compared with 2010 and are the second highest dollar amount in the past 15 years. “It’s long been recognized that analysis of manufacturing technology orders provides a reliable leading economic indicator, as it is an indicator that manufacturing firms are investing in capital equipment to increase their capacity and improve productivity,” says Patrick McGibbon, vice president, strategic information, research and membership for The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT). “Manufacturing technology provides a foundation for all other manufacturing. These machines and devices are the equipment that turn raw materials such as steel, iron, plastic, ceramics, composites and alloys from their original state as stock materials into what will become durable goods such as airplanes, cars and appliances, as well as consumer and other goods that are used every day.” The Midwest and central regions of the United States have seen the greatest surge in manufacturing technology orders. The Midwest’s manufacturing technology orders in 2011 are 120% more than the comparable figure for 2010. This large increase is the result of the region’s large traditional customer base. It also is where the oldest equipment resides and the industries impacted most by the weak dollar and on-shoring trend are located. The central region pick up—92% higher compared to 2010—was powered by the growth in the energy business and secondly by the automotive industry. “The factors that are fueling this tremendous surge are the traditional reasons that drive growth in investment, but what is unusual about the current rebound is that all factors have come together at one time. This is something that’s never been seen before,” McGibbon notes. “American manufacturers are still rushing to beat the end-of-year bonus depreciation deadline,” he continues. “Inventories were low—something we’ve never experienced going into a recession—and that accounts for the quick rebound. Exports are rising as American manufacturers meet overseas demand. Manufacturing technology from the United States is less expensive than foreign equipment, and U.S.-made goods are more price competitive than many imports due to the weak dollar.” The average age of machinery currently in use at U.S. manufacturing facilities crept up from nine years in 2007 to 13.5 years, and as demand started to increase the need for investment to replace the aging equipment became apparent. Those investments are being made in completely new technology. Multi-operation machines are profoundly impacting productivity. Water jet cutting and hydroforming are experiencing massive growth because they offer all the benefits of traditional processes but eliminate distortion and deformation. Additive manufacturing is growing, nano machining has become commercially affordable, and the availability of new materials, such as compact powdered metals, is having a tremendous impact. Plus, the emergence of cloud manufacturing, which promotes collaborative efforts across organizations, is opening new doors to manufacturers. Expanding markets worldwide are playing an important role as manufacturing grows. China seems insatiable and accounts for almost one half of the world’s total consumption of manufacturing technology. India’s economy is growing at double the Western economy’s rate, with expectations for more China-like development soon. As it prepares for major world events including the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup competition, South America faces the challenge Of building infrastructure that can support the events. Russia, South Africa, the Middle East and South Asia are on the fringe, but nevertheless contribute to growth in the global manufacturing economy. Another factor boosting U.S. manufacturing is onshoring. More work is coming back to the United States from foreign shores, and there is greater foreign direct investment in U.S. facilities. Why? The quality of work in the United States is proving to be more valuable than originally thought in the off-shoring investment calculation. Companies face increasing costs in logistics issues with the delivery of components and the exporting of completed products to North America. Add to that the rapidly increasing labor costs in traditionally “low-cost” labor markets, and the continued decline Of labor in the overall share of total production cost, and the on-shoring picture becomes clear. The outlook for 2012 remains positive. Energy will continue to be a large investor in manufacturing technology. The automotive industry is making major changes to address green issues, which will lead to significant investments in production technology, as well as spending to support the shift of the industry’s center from Detroit to the South/Southwest. Aerospace green field investments will continue in the Southeast and West. MITUTOYO AMERICA NAMES NEW PRESIDENT AURORA, IL—Shigeyuki Sasaki has been appointed the new president at Mitutoyo America Corp., headquartered in Aurora, IL. Sasaki has served numerous roles within Mitutoyo for the past 35 years including new product development and quality control departments in Utsunomiya, Japan; manager of purchasing and planning in Mitutoyo Germany; general manager in Mitutoyo South America; and recently vice president and executive vice president of Mitutoyo America. He will remain an active member of Mitutoyo’s board of directors. Sasaki succeeds Mikio Yamashita, who served as president of Mitutoyo America since 2006. Yamashita returned to Mitutoyo headquarters in Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa, Japan at the end of 2011. John Westhaus, formerly vice president Of capital equipment sales, will assume Sasaki’s role of executive vice president. FAURECIA AND FORD MOTOR CO. EARN SPE GRAND AWARD NANTERRE, FRANCE and AUBURN HILLS, MI—Faurecia, the world’s sixth-largest automotive supplier, was awarded top honors from the Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) for Faurecia Interior Systems’ work with Ford Motor Co. On the 2012 Ford Escape compact SUV & Kuga compact CUV. The companies earned SPE’s Grand Awards for Process/Assembly/Enabling Technologies and the overall Most Innovative Use of Automotive Plastics in 2011. The awards were presented during SPE’s 41st Annual Innovation Awards Competition and Gala in November 2011. “This MuCell instrument panel is the largest automotive component molded in the patented MuCell injection-molded process, as well as the first instrument panel to be molded in this process, a tremendous achievement for Faurecia and Ford,” says Jean-Michel Renaudie, president of Faurecia Interior Systems, North America. “In an industry that is highly impacted by volatile gas prices and stricter regulations, every ounce saved on a vehicle makes a difference. This process has enabled us to remove more than one pound of weight from the vehicle and save time on production.” MuCell involves the addition of a gas into the molded part during the injection process, which reduces the overall weight of the part because less plastic is used, while still maintaining the performance of the finished part. This helps Ford meet vehicle weightreduction targets, which in turn helps improve overall gas mileage. Faurecia also received the Safety Innovation Award for its Reinforced Airbag Lid in Foam (RALF) featured on the global 2011 Ford Focus compact car. RALF enables vehicle designers and stylists more design freedom around the instrument panel (IP) without compromising consumer comfort and safety. Faurecia’s innovative RALF technology eliminates the need to provide room for a hard-cover airbag lid to open without damaging the windshield, providing the flexibility to help designers better apply their creativity to the IP’s design, function and space. The SPE Automotive Innovation Awards Competition started in 1970 to recognize the positive changes that polymeric materials were bringing to the automotive industry, such as weight reduction, parts consolidation and enhanced aesthetics and design freedom. SPE’s Automotive Innovation Awards program is the oldest and largest competition of its kind in the automotive and plastics industries. DETROIT THREE AUTOMAKERS TO HIRE THOUSANDS IN COMING YEARS DETROIT—Detroit-based automakers will hire more than 30,000 new workers in the next four years, reversing years of declining employment in the ranks of Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. And the Chrysler Group LLC, according to Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor group for the Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research (CAR). Data from CAR indicate total employment of the Detroit Three automakers will increase from today’s 171,000 to 201,000 by 2015 and that auto-industry suppliers will need to add from 100,000 to 150,000 new workers over the same period. But the research group’s projected 2015 total employment figure for the Detroit automakers still pales in comparison to the industry’s heyday. In the late 1970s, the Detroit Three employed more than 1 million workers in the United States. The industry-wide rehiring also will pressure the automak-ers to address the existing two-tier wage structure with the United Auto Workers union, which is expected to be a point of increasing tension in coming years, particularly if the automakers continue to maintain their profitability trends. Currently, newly hired UAW workers start at an average of about $14 per hour, about half of what tenured union workers earn. The recently ratified labor contracts between the UAW and the Detroit automakers do provide for gradually raising the figure to about $19 per hour by the end of the contract in 2015. NISSAN AND DAIMLER TO PRODUCE ENGINES TOGETHER IN NORTH AMERICA DETROIT—In the latest step forward in the collaboration of the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler, Nissan’s Decherd, TN, plant will build Mercedes-Benz 4-cylinder engines for Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz starting in 2014. Nissan and Daimler will produce Mercedes-Benz 4-cylinder gasoline engines together at Nissan’s powertrain assembly plant in Decherd, TN. Production will begin in 2014, with installed capacity of 250,000 units per year once full ramp-up is achieved. The Decherd facility will produce engines for Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti models. “This is the newest milestone in our pragmatic collaboration and our most significant project outside of Europe so far,” says Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. “Localized capacity reduces exposure to foreign exchange rates while rapidly enabling a good business development in North America, a winwin for the Alliance and Daimler.” The collaboration marks the first production of Mercedes-Benz engines in the North America Free Trade region. The Tennessee plant’s strategic location and logistics links ensure a direct supply of engines starting in 2014 for the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, built at Daimler’s vehicle plant in Tuscaloosa, AL. “In the context of our Mercedes- Benz 2020 growth strategy, we have decided that we will expand the production capacities required for this close to the customers,” says Dr. Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the Daimler Board of Management and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “Through the strategic extension of our cooperation with Renault-Nissan, we can realize near-market engine production in the NAFTA region on attractive economic terms and make optimum use of synergies arising from the cooperation.” Nissan began powertrain assembly in Decherd in 1997. Today it manufactures 4-, 6- and 8-cylinder engines for the complete lineup of U.S.-produced Nissan and Infiniti vehicles. The plant also houses crankshaft forging and cylinder block casting operations. In 2011, Decherd produced more than 580,000 engines on a covered area of more than 1.2 million square feet.
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