Positive Signs Heading into the New YearJanuary 1, 2016
Numerous signs point to a good year ahead.
- Reshoring continues to gain momentum, and a recent Boston Consulting Group survey finds that the United States “has surpassed China and is outpacing Mexico” as the most likely destination for new manufacturing capacity to serve the U.S. market.
- 85 percent of manufacturers surveyed by the Institute for Supply Management predict that 2016 will be the same or better than 2015. Collectively, survey-takers expect a 2.8-percent uptick in revenue for 2016, double the 1.4-percent revenue gain in 2015.
- A new forecast by the MAPI (Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation) Foundation predicts increased manufacturing production through 2017, based on strong consumer demand driven by job growth. (Consumer spending grew by as much as 2.9 percent through Q2 and Q3 2015, a trend that slowed in Q4 but is expected to rise into 2016.) The MAPI Foundation predicts that GDP will expand 2.9 percent in 2016 and 2.7 percent in 2017, and that manufacturing production will advance by 2.6 percent in 2016 and 3.0 percent in 2017.
- U.S. auto sales are on the rise, with several leading experts (including IHS Automotive, Edmunds.com and Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research) predicting a strong market for at least the next few years. U.S. sales in 2016 should surpass the previous record of 17.4 million set in 2000, and are expected to climb above the 18 million mark in 2017.
- The appliance market is booming, too, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.
Sales of electric ranges and ovens climbed by 7.3 percent in 2015 and will gain another 5 percent in 2016; sales of gas water heaters increased by 5.2 percent in 2015 and will rise another 3.8 percent this year; and refrigerator sales, which grew by 3.9 percent in 2015, will gain another 4.7 percent in 2016.
The quickening pulse of manufacturing was no more evident than last November in Chicago, when a record crowd of more than 43,000 attended the international trade-show phenomenon known as FABTECH. The show shone the spotlight on more than 1700 exhibiting companies, while attendees came from more than 90 countries.
In this issue of MetalForming, we focus part one of our post-FABTECH coverage on laser-cutting equipment, highlighting several of the new machines we spied on the show floor. Next month we’ll provide a more encompassing post-show wrap-up describing new stamping technology entering the market, as well as technology complementary to stamping including waterjet cutting, press-brake forming, sheetmetal bending and welding.
As metalformers and fabricators alike look to tackle shorter-run production, more changeovers are required and nimbleness becomes a top priority. It’s no surprise that much of the new technology at FABTECH addresses these concerns. There was more material-handling automation, for example, at the show than ever before—robotics, for starters, but other equipment as well, such as automated coil lines, designed to help operators quickly move from last part to first part.
All of us here at MetalForming magazine and the Precision Metalforming Association extend to you and yours our sincere wishes for a joyous, healthy and prosperous New Year.
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