October 2020 ISM PMI-Manufacturing Positivity!

November 2, 2020

The manufacturing economy continued its recovery in October. Survey Committee members reported that their companies and suppliers continue to operate in reconfigured factories; with every month, they are becoming more proficient at expanding output. Panel sentiment was optimistic…”Timothy R. Fiore, CPSM, C.P.M., Chair of the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.


Manufacturing continues its sixth consecutive month of recovery.

The manufacturing economy continued its recovery in October. Economic activity in the manufacturing sector grew in October, with the overall economy notching a sixth consecutive month of growth.

  • The October Manufacturing PMI® registered 59.3 percent, up 3.9 percentage points from the September reading of 55.4 percent and the highest since September 2018 (59.3 percent).
  • This figure indicates expansion in the overall economy for the sixth month in a row after a contraction in April, which ended a period of 131 consecutive months of growth.
  • New Orders Index registered 67.9 percent, an increase of 7.7 percentage points from the September reading of 60.2 percent.
  • The Production Index registered 63 percent, an increase of 2 percentage points compared to the September reading of 61 percent.
  • The Backlog of Orders Index registered 55.7 percent, 0.5 percentage point higher compared to the September reading of 55.2 percent.
  • The Employment Index registered 53.2 percent, an increase of 3.6 percentage points from the September reading of 49.6 percent.
  • The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 60.5 percent, up 1.5 percentage points from the September figure of 59 percent.
  • The Inventories Index registered 51.9 percent; 4.8 percentage points higher than the September reading of 47.1 percent.
  • The Prices Index registered 65.5 percent, up 2.7 percentage points compared to the September reading of 62.8 percent.
  • The New Export Orders Index registered 55.7 percent; an increase of 1.4 percentage points compared to the September reading of 54.3 percent.
  • The Imports Index registered 58.1 percent, a 4.1-percentage point increase from the September reading of 54 percent

All indexes reported increases over September.

Fabricated metals reported strong growth.

What’s not to like in this release?

We’re manufacturing positivity!

Chart courtesy Calculated Risk Blog

ISM Report October 2020


Supply Chain- Ready to Help!

March 11, 2020

Throughout history, American manufacturers have answered the call to find solutions, support progress and step up in times of crisis. Our U.S. manufacturers and workers are ready to minimize operational disruptions and help produce a quality, reliable products ready to ship to any location. We’re here to help.

Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity  (VUCA) are business as usual for the North American Manufacturing Industry.

We remain on the job ready, willing, and able to get you the critical components that you need for your critical quality and human safety applications.

Open letter to suppliers

Having supply chain / procurement issues? Our member shops are available to help. Check our websites for assistance in finding a shop:

http://www.amba.org          American Mold Builders Association
http://www.ntma.org           National Tooling and Machining Association
http://www.pmpa.org          Precision Machined Products Association
http://www.pma.org            Precision Metalforming Association
http://www.tmaillinois.org   Technology & Manufacturing Association

Throughout history, American manufacturers have answered the call to find solutions, support progress and step up in times of crisis. Our U.S. manufacturers and workers are ready to minimize operational disruptions and help produce quality, reliable products ready to ship to any location. 

It’s what we do.

Coronavirus- One Thing to Reduce Your Risk of Community Acquired Infections

March 3, 2020

The experts say “Wash your hands.

The experts say Don’t touch your face.”

Actually they sayAvoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Viruses that cause colds can enter your body this way and make you sick.” 

If only playing Simple Simon  with the experts calling the shots would keep us safe.

The experts say wash your hands- why don’t they suggest that you not touch contaminated surfaces in the first place?

In manufacturing, we have a thing called Root Cause Corrective Action. We try to prevent reccurrence by eliminating causes.

Basically we work on offense against causes. Not play defense against things that have already happened.

From a root cause preventive action point of view, what is one thing that you can do to reduce your risk of community acquired infections?

Use a stylus!


If you don’t touch the infectious contamination on the keys used by who knows how many people before you…

Do you know how many people touched those keys before you?

“Reviewing the literature on all available human and veterinary viruses within this family, encompassing 22 studies, researchers have found that the human pathogens can persist on surfaces and remain infectious at room temperature for up to nine days. “- Sciencealert corona virus on surfaces

If you knew that someone had a tissue in their hand when they used the keypad, would you not use the keypad? 

(Hint, I see that happening a lot)

Go ahead and touch. Ewww…


How many keypads and touchscreens do you get to touch in a day?

I count 4 or 5 in a typical day- grocery store, pharmacy, bank counter and ATM,  gas station pumps and counter, retail shops, department stores.

On non typical days, add Airline parking access gate touchscreen and airline check-in kiosk touch screens. Hundreds of people ahead of me at the airport…

Whose job is it to disinfect them?

When I asked, all I got was blank stares… though at my local Gas Station the Cashier has been doing a great job of wiping down touchscreens.

What if instead of touching all of these with your fingers and possibly acquiring infectious bacteria or viruses- what if we didn’t touch these contaminated surfaces? 

What if a stylus did the touching?

Wouldn’t that keep us safer, by reducing our exposure to infectious materials with our hands?

Washing hands is fine. We get it.

But not getting our hands contaminated with infectious contaminants in the first place?

We think that that is far better than playing only defense- getting contaminated, and then washing up.

We think that using a stylus instead of your fingers on touchscreens and keypads is the one thing that you can do that will positively reduce your chance of community acquired infection.

We’re not sure why the experts don’t suggest it.

Use a stylus!

I purchased a bunch from Staples to give to my colleagues at work.

Use a stylus not your finger…

You can order them on Amazon too.


We think that using a stylus instead of your fingers on touchscreens and keypads is the one thing that you can do that will positively reduce your chance of community acquired infection.

What do you think? More importantly,  what will you do?

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants- Veterans Day 2019

November 11, 2019

My family has a story. I’ll bet yours does too.




My grandfather and namesake, Miles Sr., joined the army cavalry back in WWI. Sounds dashing, but the assignment to cavalry in those days, for farm boys from Ohio,  was all about the barn, not about the riding.My father, Miles Jr., was first in his graduating class of 1942 to enlist in the Army. He got some great training at the New England Aircraft School and as ground crew chief was responsible for the maintenance of a number of B-17’s over Europe.

I am humbled by what he and his generation did in their late ‘teens and early twenties. Not so impressed with how I muddled through those same years in my life.

Thanks Dad.

My daughter, Emma, and her husband, have been deployed in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East with the U.S. Army. Today they call West Point home.

I’ll bet your family has some stories like this too. I hope you share them this weekend. They are important ways to share your family’s values.

I got a pass.  I got a university deferment. then I got a high draft number. No crazy Asian war for me.

So, when they bring up the flag at the parade today, I’ll be the first to jump up (or try to be) to salute, not the flag that goes by, but the sacrifices and love gifts of all who have worn the uniform of  a U.S. Armed Service, who stepped forward and chose   “Duty, Honor, Country” instead of “What’s in it for me?”

Isaac Newton is famously credited with saying “If I have seen further than most, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of Giants.”

Today, I echo his sentiment with gratitude for the service and sacrifice of the veterans. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your sacrifice.

You are all giants in my book.


September ISM PMI Declines- GDP Growth Likely 1.7%

October 1, 2019

“The past relationship between the PMI® and the overall economy indicates that the PMI® for September (47.8 percent) corresponds to a 1.5-percent increase in real gross domestic product (GDP) on an annualized basis,”– Timothy R. Fiore, CPSM, C.P.M., Chair of the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee

We know that all of the other media will be pointing out the fact that the “ISM PMI for September 2019 did decrease 1.3 percentage points from the August reading of 49.1 percent,” making two consecutive months below 50 and thus contraction in manufacturing. As Abraham Maslow’s often mis- attributed quote states “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” The negative bias in the media these days gives cause for alarm.

The negative bias in the press is extensive these days…

While we acknowledge that the actual ISM PMI for September is 47.8 percent- we remind everyone that this level corresponds to continued GDP growth in the broad economy, not a recession. With the UAW strike and softening Automotive sales, we believe that we have an “assignable cause” and thus lower the weight that this decrease actually has on our thinking.

PMI is down, real US GDP continues to grow

PMPA’s own Business Trends Report shows that shipments of our shops grew 1.5% over July, up 3.8% over this year’s lowest month (June) and are in fact up 4% over the five year average for the month of August. Our August value of 134, would have been the fourth highest month ever for our index, had it occurred prior to 2018.

Softening is not exactly unexpected.

The final quarter of the year is traditionally low for sales and deliveries for precision machining, so we do not anticipate a reversal of the sales trends in the remainder of the year.

Over all, we believe that the bitter taste of the bad news of the 47.8 percent PMI is far worse than the actual reality which is that the economy (real GDP) is continuing to grow.

September 2019 ISM PMI

Calculated Risk Blog- Thanks for the Graph. 

Hammer Lightning

Mixed Signals- Sales & Sentiment Recover, but Moving Averages Show Growth Slowing

August 30, 2019

“If slowing growth today means Sales 12% above the prior five years’ average sales for July, we’ll take it.”

With 80 companies reporting, the PMPA Business Trends Index for July 2019 recovered up 3 points or 2.3 percent to 132. While this 132 value is the second lowest value for the year, some context is in order. There were only 4 times where the index was higher than 132 prior to 2018. 132 is a 12.4 percent increase above the Average of July for the past five years, and 104 percent of July 2018 sales.


There are only 4 occurrences of the BT Index exceeding 132 prior to 2018. The July value of 132 is up 12.4% above the average for the past five Years of July. And 4X the Increase of Industrial Production reported by the FED.

We acknowledge that – the 3-month moving average of this sales index has dipped below the 12-month moving average- indicating that the pace of growth in our industry has slowed. At the same time all our forward looking sentiment indicators are Up. UP.  UP!

Opinions for the next three months compared to today:

  • Net Sales: Our companies’ outlook for the next three months is strongly positive for the next three months.
  • Lead Times: The outlook for Lead Times shows that respondents expect to be busy in the coming three months. Ninety percent of respondents expect lead times to remain the same or increase in the next three months. Positive for Sales.
  • Employment: Sixty percent (60%) of shops reported scheduling overtime in July. Prospects for employment are strongly positive with ninety-seven and a half percent (97.5%) expecting level or increased opportunities for employment.
  • Profitability: Overall sentiment for profitability shows respondents to be optimistic for the next three months, in line with all other sentiment indicator

2019 has been a very strong year for Sales. July’s recovery to 132, while not sufficient to keep the 3-month moving average above the 12-month moving average, is still a remarkable 12.4 percent increase for sales compared to the five year average of monthly sales for July.

Is sales growth slowing? That is what the 3- and 12- month moving averages are telling us. Are we at an enviable level of sales for such a slowdown? I would argue “Yes!” that the current July Sales index of 132 was only exceeded 4 times prior to 2018. Mixed signals appear quite positive to me for the next three months for our precision machining shops.

Optimism for 2019- Our Business Trends Sets Another Sales Record!

April 23, 2019

Following the pattern of last year, in which we finished up X%  year over year, our March 2019 Business trends reports logs a new record  of 147, up 14 points or 10.5% over February 2019’s 133. it is up 8.8% over the five year sales index average for March.

This is a new high for our index.

In March of 2018, we posted “…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 percent above that for the five year average for March Sales index.”

Deja vu Sales performance for the precision Machining Industry!


Why this matters:

Our performance and sentiment indicators this month justify our continued optimism about the markets and employment prospects for our precision machining industry in 2019. This auspicious start to 2019 builds a foundation for continued growth and prosperity for our shops in the year ahead.

Oh almost forgot: “Prospects for employment are positive with ninety-four percent (94%) expecting level or
increased opportunities for employment.”

February ISM PMI- Stronger Than The Pundits Let On

March 1, 2019

The February PMI® registered 54.2 percent, an decrease of 2.4 percentage points from the January reading of 56.6 percent…Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in February, and the overall economy grew for the 118th consecutive month.“- Timothy R. Fiore, CPSM, C.P.M., Chair of the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee

Solidly positive unless you are microfocused on the trend.


While the expectation was for 55 or more, and so many folks were disappointed at this slower rate of growwth in manufacturing, this point of view actually misses where exactly we are in the Manufacturing cycle.

What the disappointed people see: Eeyores view:

ISM PMI Feb 2019 Down down down…


Here is a less myopic view:

Same data different scale.


Source: https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/business-confidence

Yes the trend is declining.

Look at where we have been!

Now back to the ISM report:

““Comments from the panel reflect continued expanding business strength, supported by notable demand and output, although both were softer than the prior month. Demand expansion continued, with the New Orders Index reaching the mid-50s, the Customers’ Inventories Index scoring lower and remaining too low, and the Backlog of Orders returning to a low-50s expansion level. ” – No bad news to be found here!

We continue to see the positives in the ISM PMI indicator. Our shops are running full and sentiment on our internal reports remains strongly positive.

We’re definitely not having an Eeyore moment in Precision Machining!

We’re not having an Eeyore moment despite the graphs.


Disney photocredit: https://winniethepooh.disney.com/eeyore


Change for the Better, Better Together

February 18, 2019

“Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.”-Khalil Gibran

The PMPA Executive board (with the full support of your PMPA staff) has been working on a new approach to ensure that we continue to provide our members with the technical support, information and networking deliverables that our team has consistently delivered.

Your PMPA executive team has a vision that advances the interests and deliverables available for our members, through collaboration and progress with our long time partners, Gardner Business Media.”

The changes of the past year were unexpected, but despite them, our staff has continued to perform and provide deliverables that make us more competitive in our businesses and operations. Our executive team has come together, evaluated many options, and through a vigorous process of strategic planning, we have identified a way forward-not to merely stabilize PMPA, but actually enhance it and make it even more sustainable.

“Better Together” is the approach that we have identified to combine the strengths of PMPA and those of our long-term partner, Gardner Business Media. Together PMPA and Gardner have served the precision machining industry – each by its own strengths. Considering our history of successful and profitable collaboration on the PMTS show, and Production Machining magazine, the surprise to our executive team was “why hadn’t this been considered before?”

“Better Together” describes our proposal to work with our long time partners at Gardner to develop a Management Services Agreement (MSA). This MSA starts with a six-month initial exploratory phase (Phase 1) that will lead us towards a long-term proposal to combine our strengths and staff to enhance the value we provide to our members. This was approved at our Board meeting in Phoenix last week. In this phase, Gardner will assess PMPA organization and processes to identify opportunities to enhance performance- and create new and improved deliverables though our collaboration. “Better Together” is how we will collaborate- with both Gardner and PMPA staff bringing their unique strengths- to continue to deliver “Concierge Quality” services to our membership.

The synergies of collaborating, and sharing talent are exciting. We envision a future where our staff has more opportunity to work on advanced deliverables for our members- enhancing and extending the resources when combined with the Gardner/ Production Machining team. Gardner brings opportunities to expand our reach and better market PMPA in our industry, and beyond. PMPA can provide Gardner with a better understanding of our manufacturing niche, helping them advance the quality of their Top Shops Benchmarking- that in turn can help our members improve their own performance.

All parties will benefit as we advance the benefits of PMPA and Gardner continuing our work together. Deliberately building on our historic collaboration we believe, will allow us to enhance our performance and service to members.

We have a long history of success together. Our organizations have collaborated for many years to make Production Machining and PMTS successful, jointly produced brands. We think that now is the perfect time to re-focus our collaboration so that together we can deliver even greater value to PMPA members.

I can tell you that I am excited at the possibilities. Our PMPA staff- led by Miles and Renee- are equally excited at the continuous improvements that they think this can have for their work on behalf of you, our members. In addition, the Gardner team continues to advance the conversation- to assure that the PMPA continues to be a vital resource for our members and the industry.

We will have more details as this develops. However, I wanted you to know that your PMPA executive team has a vision that advances the interests and deliverables available for our members, through collaboration and progress with our long time partners, Gardner Business Media. I am excited to be able to announce this development. It will be under PMPA board oversight, and at the end of Phase 1, the PMPA board and Gardner will agree on a second phase to further execute our collaboration.

“Better Together” is our vision to build on our strengths with our trusted partners at Gardner. “Better Together”- to better serve us all. “Better Together” – that is our vision and means of “Effective Associating.”

Mike Reader, President, Precision Machined Products Association

For further information contact






Miles Free

Interim Director

Precision Machined Products Association

6880 West Snowville Rd. Suite 200

Brecksville, Ohio 44141

440 526 0300





Melissa Kline-Skavlem

Chief Marketing Officer

Gardner Business Media

6915 Valley Avenue

Cincinnati, Ohio 45244-3019

513 527 8800


PMPA Business Trends Year-end Summary- Optimism for 1Q 2019!

January 28, 2019

2018 was a strong year for the precision machining industry. With sales up 7.2% our shops outperformed nearly every benchmark in terms of sales and performance including prior year and 5-year averages. Sentiment indicators bode well for the first three months of 2019.” PMPA Business Trends Report Year-end Summar

PMPA 2018 Yearend summary sentiment graph

Outlook for first three months of 2019: Lead Time remains level, prospects for Net Sales, Profitability and Employment strongly positive.

We remain optimistic regarding manufacturing outlook at our shops’ “component level.” However we acknowledge that the Manufacturing industry’s rate of growth is decelerating.

This difference between decelerating growth (which we believe we are seeing) and declining manufacturing (not what we are seeing) is important to keep in mind.

The level outlook for Lead Time tells me that we our shops are at their “practical” capacity. When they get busier in January , we expect to see this lead time indicator go up.

How to deal with this? Please see our article: Time to Change Your Thinking