New REACH Status for Lead- PMPA Members Know How to Respond

August 29, 2018

 

On June 21, 2018, the ECHA added Lead to the Candidate List for Substances of Very High Concern under REACH.

Not banned in every application…

While this regulation arguably covers only manufacturers and importers in the EU, the fact of the matter is that  our shops here in North America are producing components (articles) which are incorporated into products in the EU.

Our customers, who specify the use of leaded materials because of the economics of product provision (Leaded materials machine at much higher efficiency rates, lower costs , and seldom need post fabrication operations) are now asking their suppliers for a statement of compliance for the materials that THEY specify us to make THEIR components from. Leaded Steels, Brasses and Aluminums.

Our shops find themselves placed right in the center of a paradox-  how can they certify that the material that their customer told them to use is compliant with this new REACH development?

PMPA has analyzed this and provided our members with a guidance document that

  • Recites the applicable facts and regulatory obligations
  • Describes where and where not the REACH and other EU regulations apply / might not aply;
  • Analyzes the duties to our customers
  • Describes ways to meet our obligations
  • Provides references for understanding this new development

The world of Precision Machining is characterized by Volatility (this regulation just Arrived), Uncertainty (does this apply to me, I’m an North American, not European manufacturer?) Complexity ( So I need to read the ECHA announcement, The ECHA Substance Support Document, the Annex that covers Lead,  and then two more annexes that tell me what I need to do) before I can figure out what I need to do, and Ambiguity (Actually the annexes do not expressly state what the exact deliverable  required is).

This VUCA world is made manageable by  PMPA regulatory sensemaking  to help our shops  first recognize, then intelligently understand and manage their risk.

  • Who is helping you and your team recognize new regulatory risks?
  • Who is helping you to understand those risks?
  • Who is providing answers so that you can concentrate on making those critical parts that the world needs, instead of spending three or four man-Days trying to figure it out? (Presuming that you know the issue even exists!)

PMPA members know who.

PMPA!

PMPA Members Only Guidance Document

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Precision Machining Shops in High Gear in June 2018

July 25, 2018

“With 84 companies responding, the PMPA Business Trends Index for June 2018 held steady at 138, highest June on
record and tied with May 2018. The calendar year average remains 136. The 2018 June index of 138 is 2.2% higher
than June 2017’s 135 value. This is our Index’s highest value recorded for June, and is our second highest value ever
recorded (March 2018’s 143 was the highest ever).”- PMPA Business Trends Report- June 2018

2018 continues to set a blistering pace for the performance and sentiment indicators that we
track. June 2018 is now our second highest sales Index ever- tied with May 2018- while March 2018 was our all-time
high. Our forward- looking indicators remain strongly positive even as they reflect some softening from our current record
levels of performance. Our industry continues to outperform 5-year averages by a wide margin- ~10.4% for June!

See the full report here: https://www.pmpa.org/news/latest-news/2018/07/24/pmpa-business-trends-june-2018

 

Employment prospects are 98% positive In precision machining shops!

P.S- Employment Sentiment: Prospects for employment are positive and strengthening with ninety-eight percent (98%)
expecting level or increased opportunities for employment!

photo credit: Life of Dad blog

 


United States Department of Commerce Section 232 Exclusion Requests Tracking

July 11, 2018

In case you were wondering how well the US Department of Commerce is taking care of the exclusion requests by American Metalworking companies, here’s some data.

 

0ver 98.9% of all requests for exclusions remain unprocessed!

Requests for exclusions for both steel and aluminum have less than a half of a percent chance of being approved- 0.35% for steel and 0.47% for aluminum.

Where else but government is this level of performance tolerated?

We will update this from time to time.

 


PMPA Business Trends Index for MAY 2018- Second Highest Value EVER!

June 28, 2018

PMPA Business Trends Sales Index for May climbed to its second highest value ever as forward looking indicators for Sales, Lead Time, Employment and Profitability softened but remained positive.

Second only to the value for March 2018!

Our year to date average is 136, up 11 points or 8.8% over 2017’s year-end average of 125.

We are at 106% of where we were a year ago in May.

The FED reported that Industrial Production (IP) Industrial Production edged down 0.1 percent in May after rising
0.9 percent in April. Manufacturing production fell 0.7 percent in May, largely because truck assemblies were disrupted by
a major fire at a parts supplier. Excluding motor vehicles and parts, factory output moved down 0.2 percent.”

Our industry is clearly outperforming IP- they cannot make it until we produce the precision components needed.

The sentiment indicators while lower, still remain in positive territory, and are likely based on the realization that the summer is typically less demanding than the first quarter.

Full report available HERE


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


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)