A recent joint release from the U.S. Cutting Tool Institute (USCTI) and the Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT) reports cutting tool consumption for U.S. manufacturers was up 9.7 percent in October compared with a 3.3 percent increase in September. Strong cutting tool consumption bodes well for metalworkers as it indicates that shops are busy.
Cutting tool consumption is a leading indicator of both upturns and downturns in domestic manufacturing activity, as it is a true measure of actual production levels. Companies participating in the Cutting Tool Market Report represent about 80 percent of the U.S. market for cutting tools.
Going into 2015 with a strong fourth quarter gain in consumption seems to indicate that the manufacturing momentum of 2014 should continue into the New Year. Good news! Click here for a link to the report.
The Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) last week strongly criticized the release by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) of a rule that restricts the rights of employees and drives a wedge between employers and employees.
On Friday, December 12, the NLRB released the “Ambush Election” rule, which limits the amount of time employees have to consider whether or not to join a union to as little as 10-14 days, down from an average of 56 days. The new rule, which takes effect April 14, also requires businesses to supply unions with the phone numbers and email addresses of employees ahead of an election, exposing workers and their families to unwanted calls at all hours. In a legal challenge supported by PMPA, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia previously struck down an almost identical version of the rule.
“While we are disappointed with the NLRB’s actions, we are not surprised,” says Miles Free, co-Interim executive director of the PMPA. “This rule continues a disturbing trend by the NLRB to drive a wedge between employers and employees. The current system is already working, and employees need time to weigh their options and understand what is at stake."
Regardless of a company’s size, actions like this sends a ripple effect throughout the manufacturing supply chain. Prior to the courts rejecting the NLRB’s earlier attempt, the U.S. Congress, whether under control of republicans or democrats, repeatedly refused to act on this proposal in legislative form.
Opponents of the most recent Ambush Election rule are exploring their legal options and expect to take action in the courts in the near future to challenge the NLRB’s authority to take this restrictive action.
The Witzig & Frank production site in Offenburg, Germany.
FFG Werke GmbH’s Witzig & Frank brand has renewed its traditional partnership with St. Louis-based manufacturer Hydromat Inc., combining their matching portfolios of high volume metal cutting solutions for the automotive communications, medical, aerospace, plumbing, and general machining industries.
Witzig & Frank, a manufacturer of integrated machining solutions for high volume applications, is based in Offenburg, Germany. Under FFG Europe’s new ownership, the company re-launched production at the Offenburg plant in December 2013, and sales targets for 2014 have already been exceeded. Several metal forming and metal cutting machining systems for German customers are currently on the shop floor.
Following FFG’s global market approach, Witzig & Frank is now leveraging its history in the American market by partnering with Hydromat Inc., a St. Louis-based manufacturer of rotary transfer machines and multi-spindle machines. Apart from the matching portfolios, the companies have had close ties for more than 25 years, dating back to when Hydromat President and CEO Bruno Schmitter co-founded a joint venture with Witzig & Frank. Hydromat’s Chief Sales Officer Matthias Walter started his career at Witzig & Frank (where his father had been managing director for many years) and later took over the company’s U.S. entity Turmatic Systems.
“We have actually sold, installed and serviced more than 160 Witzig & Frank machines in the U.S., so we’re very experienced in the field and know the relevant players,” says Mr. Walter. “Also, with our portfolio and the Witzig & Frank products, we can now cover a vast range of different size applications, leveraging our mutual strengths and giving our customers a competitive edge.”
Hydromat’s contract with FFG Werke GmbH, Witzig & Frank’s holding company, includes the full range of services for the brand, such as sales, service, spare parts supply, and retrofits.
Every shop hopes to reduce cycle times, increase productivity and improve security. Some processes’ efficiencies are tougher to increase than others, though—one being steel turning. However, new advances in material science are allowing the latest insert grades for steel turning to demonstrate very high levels of endurance at manufacturer facilities around the world, according to a white paper by Sandvik Coromant. In this white paper, real machine shop challenges are referenced, as well as how these obstacles were dealt with. A new insert grade has proven its endurance and is now available to manufacturers. Read the white paper here.
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