April ISM PMI 57.3- Solid Report

May 1, 2018

Despite a drop of two points from 59.3 to 57.3, the April Institute for Supply Management Purchasing Managers Index (ISM-PMI) indicated continued solid, but slowing growth in the manufacturing sector. Of the 18 Manufacturing Industries, 17 reported growth in April. Demand remains robust, but the nation’s employment and supply chains continue to struggle- April 2018 ISM PMI, Timothy Fiore, Chair, ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

The April report noted declines in other indexes such as New Orders (down 2 points); Production Index (down 3.8 points); New Orders down 0.7 points); and he Employment index (down 3.1 points) compared to March. Prices  index was up 1.2 percent  from prior month, indicating the 26th consecutive month of gains.

The prices index is currently at its highest value since April 2011; 17 of 18 industry sectors reported price increases.

108th consecutive month of expansion for the overall economy according to ISM PMI for Manufacturing.

What is going on in manufacturing? Here are  a couple of comments from some of the ISM’s respondents:

  •  “Business is off the charts. This is causing many collateral issues: a tightening supply chain market and longer lead times. Subcontractors are trading capacity up, leading to a bidding war for the marginal capacity. Labor remains tight and getting tighter.” 
  • “[The] 232 and 301 tariffs are very concerning. Business planning is at a standstill until they are resolved. Significant amount of manpower [on planning and the like] being expended on these issues.”
  • “The recent steel tariffs have made it difficult to source material, and we have had to eliminate two products due to availability and cost of raw material.

PMPA’s March Business Trends Report just came in and showed a record high at 143 for sales. We look forward to seeing what our April report has in store.

Chart courtesy Calculated Risk Blog

ISM April PMI Report

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In Like A Lion- March Business Trends Index Sets New Record

April 27, 2018

With 91 companies responding, the PMPA Business Trends Index for March 2018 increased 14 points or 10.8% over
February to 143, the highest value for the Business Trends Index EVER! At 143, the index is up 11.2 points or 8.5%
above the five-year average for the March sales index of 131.8. ”  – PMPA March 2018 Business Trends Report

All time high for Our Sales Index!

Sentiment indicators from our respondents remained high. PMPA members can get the full report here. Press can request a copy  – we’ll be happy to share.

Two of three months  in 2018 have set new records for sales. Our industry is outperforming five year averages by wide margins- up 8.5% for March.

Prospects for employment remain high in our shops, even as the national figures tout “full employment.”

If you know someone that is underemployed, or unemployed, the prospects for great careers in our precision manufacturing shops have really never looked better.

 

Lion

March 2018 PMPA Business Trends Report

Great Careers


A New Era Began Today

February 6, 2018

Autonomy in our technology is real! (Photo courtesy Joshua Andrade- Heinlein Forum on Facebook)

I was privileged to be able to witness the live cast of the Falcon Heavy Lift vehicle today. The photo above shows two booster engine modules simultaneously and autonomously landing. This was just a small part of the technology displayed today by the Falcon Heavy launch.

But here is why I say that a new era starts today:

  1. This is proof that Autonomy in our technology is real. It’s no longer about listening to a reporter somewhere talking about autonomous cars on test tracks. We got to see it ourselves today. It works. Now, it’s just a matter of scaling and networking the technology. We’ll be seeing this in our customers products sooner than we expected.
  2. Private enterprise for the win. NASA’s Bill Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations said that “the NASA SLS (Space Launch System) heavy rocket would cost about $1 billion per launch.” The Falcon Heavy cost is about $90 million per Launch. That’s about $910,000,000 in unneeded taxes per launch.
  3. Today’s launch has proven that the existential joy of engineering is alive and well and making cost effective technology in private enterprise. Space is no longer limited to staid, bureaucratic, rationalizations that it is for research for the common good missions. Today, it is about the human spirit and what we can achieve.
  4. This was not cobbled together by the lowest bidder with a bunch of imported parts. Although the label on a circuit board proudly proclaims “*Made on Earth by humans” this is validation of the capability of US private enterprise, engineering, and the entrepreneurial equivalent of  the gold record on Voyager.
  5. This is the defining event of the new renaissance of Engineering, Entrpreneurialism, and Manufacturing to further mankind’s material progress.  Through our own capable efforts.

Made on Earth by humans (Photo courtesy Joshua Andrade)

I am glad to be a witness to this milestone in the renaissance of manufacturing, engineering, and entrepreneurial accomplishment here in America today.  An electric car, is on its way to Mars. I watched two booster engines land themselves simultaneously. I watched the joy of the engineers as their work accomplished its demonstration of the power of our technology. This is the current generation’s SPUTNIK moment.

Baby boomers can just barely remember what Sputnik did  to transform for our culture, but many of us chose science and engineering and technology careers.  Today, we all had the chance to see a similar watershed for technology, manufacturing, and entrepreneurial spirit, and that it is cool again.

Existential Joy of Engineering- Why shouldn’t we love what we do?

The existential joy of engineering is alive and well, and it has just sent a red car hurtling towards a rendezvous with the red planet.

Red car to rendezvous with a red planet

 

…to be continued

Link to video Space X Falcon Heavy Launch– start at 4:14:24 to start with the launch

Photocredits: for Landing and Circuit board: Joshua Andrade (J Meauho Andrade on Facebook)


January ISM PMI Growth in Manufacturing Moderates as it Continues

February 1, 2018

Positive indicators for our precision machining shops from ISM and PMPA.

According to today’s release of the January 2018 Institute for Supply Management -Purchasing Manager’s Index,  economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in January, although at a slower rate than in December 2017. The  January PMI came in at 59.1%, down 0.2% from 59.3% in December. 

Continued strength in Manufacturing according to the nation’s Purchasing Managers at the Institute for Supply Management.

 

A reading above 50 percent in the PMI  indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50 percent indicates that it is generally contracting.

While the ISM-PMI report highlighted slight declines in the following indicators for our manufacturing businesses, they still bode well for manufacturing’s strength:

  • The New Orders Index registered 65.4 percent, a decrease of 2 percentage points from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 67.4 percent.
  • The Production Index registered 64.5 percent, a 0.7 percentage point decrease compared to the seasonally adjusted December reading of 65.2 percent.
  • The Employment Index registered 54.2 percent, a decrease of 3.9 percentage points from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 58.1 percent. The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 59.1 percent, a 1.9 percentage point increase from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 57.2 percent.

Other comments from this report that convey positivity for our sector including “expanding business conditions, with new orders and production maintaining high levels of expansion; employment expanding at a slower rate; order backlogs expanding at a faster rate; and export orders and imports continuing to grow faster in January. Supplier deliveries continued to slow (improving) at a faster rate. Price increases occurred across all industry sectors. The Customers’ Inventories Index indicates levels are still too low. Capital expenditure lead times increased 8 percent during the month of January.” These all signal that manufacturing continues to be very busy up and down the supply chain. The “Customer’s inventories  being too low,”  comment tells me that there will continue to be strength in  demand for manufactured goods in the coming months.

PMPA’s own Business Trends Report for December 2017 and year end summary reported that our companies’ sales were up 6.8% over calendar year 2016’s levels. This  January ISM PMI report continues the positive outlook for manufacturing. PMPA Year End Summary Blog Post

ISM Press Release

Calculated Risk Chart of January 2018 ISM PMI

 

 

 

 


Precision Machining Industry Sales Up 6.8% in 2017

January 25, 2018

Our December PMPA Business Trends Report for December 2017 finished at 125 for the year, up 6.8% over last year’s 117. 

It has been a great year for our precision machining shops, and “Busy” is the watchword.

Our industry sales increased over twice the US GDP growth reported by BEA for 2017!

Our sentiment indicators for the year ahead were positive as well.

PMPA members can read the full report here 

By the way, we predicted in May that our year end sales level would be 126.25- an error of just 1.25% from the actual value of 125!

Press representatives desiring a copy of the report please contact mkirchenbauer@pmpa.org  to get a copy of the full report or to arrange an interview.

We are confident that 2018 will be a similarly strong year  for our industry- starting in 1st quarter where our indicators are all strongly positive.-Net Sales, Lead Times, Employment and Profitability.

Photo credit


What Could be on Santa’s List for Your Shop?

December 13, 2017

We spoke with the Jolly Old Elf earlier this year to try to learn what he had in store for us…

While Santa didn’t give us any clues as to what he had in his bag for our shops, I have consulted with some of his  economists -uhh- favorite elves-  to try to get a sneak peek, as well as some sensemaking from our own Business Trends Report. Our Business Trends Report has been reporting an 8% or more higher level of sales and shipments for our industry all year- we and our favorite economists see that continuing in 2018 first half for sure…

Here’s what I think Santa has in his bag for you going into 2018:

New Technology – Yes, we know that you can’t find the additional people that you need to run new machines. THAT IS ALL THE REASON YOU NEED  to try to automate everything that you already have, so that you can free up the talent that you already have to move up to their highest and best use. That highest and best use will be on the newer equipment you will need to stay competitive in the strong markets ahead. Also, reconsider your approaches to tooling and accessories for what you have now. Cheapest cost per tool makes economic sense (maybe) in a slow market and hunker down economy. When your shop is so busy that you are routinely scheduling overtime and are at the limits of your capacity, tooling and accessories that reduce set up time, operate longer between adjustments, and provide additional benefits such as tighter tolerance capability are  an investment that leads to maximizing income from the capacity that you have available. Talk to PMPA’s Tech members to see how their tools, accessories, software, specialty materials and metalworking fluids can help you wring more production out of your current capacity in less time.

Training, Training, Training – The talent already on your team is your strongest asset. Training them to perform at their highest and best use creates a win win for them and for your shop. The best people that will be in your workforce in five years are probably the people that are already on your team today. Whatever you can do to improve their skills will pay dividends all the way around. PMPA has created an online training program called PMPA MFG to help you upgrade the knowledge and competencies of your new hires as well as existing performers. Check it out here: PMPA MFG Workforce Training or give Sterling Gill, III a call at PMPA HQ to get a personal demonstration.

Increa$ed Working Capital – If you really intend to take advantage of the strong demand for manufactured products in the next year, you will need to look at your working capital and adjust accordingly. The economists  – uhh- Santa’s Helpers-  that we follow have walked back their “recession in 2019” forecast and are now talking about a much more likely “soft landing.” Continuing strength for our shops through the first half for 2018 and a slight slowing in Q3 and Q4. The capital needs of a business  in a strong and growing market are much different than those needed when we were all in “hunker down mode”in a barely tepid economy. Our Business trends shows that the market for our products has shifted to a new higher level, and we see that strength continuing in our immediate and actionable future. Plan for success. Talk to your banker.

Fewer Regulatory Surprises – Regulatory surprises have been the basis for my personal economy and full employment  since the 2008 election. The current administration’s noticeably different approach has allowed me to focus my attentions to other areas of compliance, improvement, and member service. However, we are now on the lookout for  Trade and Tariff storms which could suddenly disrupt the markets and demand for our components (By forcing Santa’s sleigh to pull over until they pass.) On the regulatory side, as shop owners we need to continue to be diligent, train, document, and audit our systems for safety and compliance. If we do this we will both intelligently manage our risk, and also allay any fears of finding a stocking full of coal…

That’s what I caught a sneak peek of when I met with Santa. I hope that you consider these points and take appropriate action. It is up to us to respond appropriately to the strength in demand and markets. PMPA members looking for further details are welcome to contact me at PMPA.


November ISM-PMI Report Down Half a Point- We Think It Is Remarkable!

December 4, 2017

The Institute for Supply Management last week reported that “The November PMI® registered 58.2 percent, a decrease of 0.5 percentage point from the October reading of 58.7 percent. “ This value means that “Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in November, and the overall economy grew for the 102nd consecutive month.”

We’d like to provide a wee bit of sensemaking to this report- as normally  people would think that a decline in the index is  not a positive thing.

  • The decline is just 0.5 point- which means that this November reading is higher than every other monthly reading this year except for October and September.  Can you say “unseasonably high?”
  • That decline is also higher than 45 of the last 50 readings, going back to October 2013. Do you agree with us that the data indicates that “the process has shifted.”
  • The absolute values of the index  are consistent with Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanding as well as growth in the overall economy.

Here’s the chart, courtesy of Calculated Risk Blog

November value remains above most historical values since the end of the great recession, despite seasonality.

We took the liberty of running the ISM PMI averages for January through November for 2014, 2015, 2016- they came in at 55.84, 51.67, 51.22; together, they average 52.91.

The 2017 January-November average for the ISM PMI is 57.38.

We believe that the data is clear that the process has shifted, in a positive direction. Up 4.47 points  98.4%) over the average for the same period for the last three years.

Manufacturing in the United States is performing substantially better than it has over the past three years, and we believe that is is not an anomaly.

ISM PMI November Announcement