PM Blog

The coronavirus pandemic is now having an effect on daily life in the United States. Many states are implementing emergency measures, postponing elections, closing restaurants and other gathering places, and asking citizens to adhere to social distancing guidelines. In the additive manufacturing world, we’ve seen travel restrictions, businesses limiting visitors and reducing numbers of on-site staff, and AMUG and RAPID postponed.

But for many U.S. companies, production needs to continue — in spite of new personnel restrictions and in light of potential supply chain challenges that may be ongoing. OEMs and businesses that can’t receive parts or don’t have access to tooling to make products in the U.S. could face shortages and experience production gaps, on top of everything else. 

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Interest in Robotic Automation for CNC Machine Shops Increasing

According to the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), part of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), robot unit orders in North America last year increased by 1.6% compared to 2018. The total number of robots ordered in 2019 was 29,988. The RIA says the largest driver of the growth was a 50.5% increase in orders from automotive OEMs and a 16.6% increase from the plastics and rubber industry.

Production Machining editors have encountered anecdotal evidence of precision machine shops’ increasing interest in robots. This type of automation can add capacity by taking advantage of time that’s currently unused, like nights and weekends. Plus, skilled employees are becoming harder to find. This makes a company’s current set of talented employees so valuable that they need to leverage that value as far as it will go. It can also help shops maintain steady production when employees are unavailable for work, which today can be a reality given the worldwide coronavirus outbreak. And while any high-production manufacturing plant is the natural candidate for robotic automation, even small shops are now beginning to consider it.

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The Anatomy of a CNC Machine IoT Solution

With all new technologies, adoption is slower than the industry pundits would like people to believe. This is certainly true with one of Industry 4.0’s enabling technologies—the Internet of Things (IoT). In the manufacturing world, IoT is also known as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and it promises to shift the paradigm in the industry.

It is daunting knowing that the way we work today is going to change. It makes sense for manufacturers to be cautious, until there are proven use cases, before making the leap. That day is here.

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PMI Benefits from Expanding Production Activity


The Precision Machining Index increased slightly in February to 48.6 as most components reported higher figures as compared with the prior month. Gardner Intelligence’s review of the underlying index observed that the Index — calculated as an average of its components — was supported by an eight-month high in production activity and a modest expansion in employment. The Index was pulled lower by a sharp contraction in export activity and a ninth consecutive month of contracting backlog activity.

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Legal Advice for Employers Regarding Coronavirus

Fisher Phillips, a law firm with offices throughout the U.S. serving employers in all areas of labor and employment law, is maintaining a comprehensive Q&A list on its website for important information about employment-related issues facing employers as the COVID-19 coronavirus situation continually develops. "Comprehensive and Updated FAQs for Employers on the COVID-19 Coronavirus" is updated regularly to address the concerns surrounding workplace safety, working remotely, healthcare and workers' comp, time off and wages and other labor relations issues.


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