Business is growing, but tariffs and trade remain a concern in 2019, according to a broad range of manufacturers. Half of all suppliers cited availability of materials or supplies as a concern, while tariffs worried 44%. Unexpectedly, logistics and shipping costs were a concern for one-third of survey respondents. The summary comes from the MFGWatch 2019 Manufacturing Report, which includes companies manufacturing parts for machinery, tools, and equipment (31%) and aerospace/aeronautics (22%). Nearly half of the industrial professionals surveyed were small businesses, with fewer than 50 employees.
Most of these custom manufacturers have at least one industry certification, ISO9001:2015 being the most popular (42%), and AS9100 certification next at 14%. This makes them a realistic cross-section of our readership.
Supplier companies reported having a good year in 2018, with 65% receiving more work than in the previous year. Nearly half (45%) increased staff last year, and the majority increased available capacity. Those changes were required because 65% of companies reported an increase in requests for quotes (RFQs). Only 12% had a decline in RFQs.
The sales increase is causing demand for more suppliers in 2019. Almost half (49%) of buyer respondents said they plan to add suppliers to their network this year. This is up from 41% of buyers who increased their supplier base in 2018.
A surprising finding for researchers was one-third of respondents saying the availability of competent suppliers was threatening their sourcing/supply chain, with almost an equal number citing product quality compliance. More than four in ten respondents experienced a significant supply chain disruption, causing them to seek new suppliers. This suggests opportunities for companies that can reliably deliver quality products.
Buoyed by the positive results of last year, 44% of suppliers plan to invest in their workforce and acquire new technology this year. Slightly more than one-third say they will invest in new technology rather than workforce; a nearly equal number plan to invest in both.
The challenge of finding and retaining skilled workers remains the number one issue for manufacturers. The skilled labor shortage and finding ways to entice newer generations to embrace physical labor instead of desk work were concerns cited most often.
A key finding was most respondents are bullish about the aerospace industry, identifying it as a growth opportunity. (You, our readers, knew that already.) Other manufacturing areas thought to be advancing this year include robotics, electric vehicles, and medical. We’ve seen signs of that growth already. We’ll know by year-end how well other cited potential growth areas such as energy/ power, mass transit, and metals and mining fared.
Airbus and SAS Scandinavian Airlines are jointly studying how large-scale introduction of hybrid and full-electric propulsion aircraft will impact airline operations. The project includes five work packages that analyze how ground infrastructure and charging affect range, resources, time, and availability at airports. The collaboration will continue until the end of 2020.
The companies also plan to include a renewable energy supplier to ensure zero CO2 emission operations. The multidisciplinary approach – from energy to infrastructure – aims to address the entire aircraft operations ecosystem to better support aviation’s transition to sustainable energy.
To reduce aviation’s impact on the environment, the Global Aviation Industry (ATAG) has committed to achieving carbon-neutral growth for the aviation industry by cutting aviation’s net emissions by 50% by 2050 (compared to 2005).
Airbus has already started to build technology demonstrators and is currently testing hybrid propulsion systems, subsystems, and components to address long-term efficiency goals for building and operating electric aircraft.
The Freeformer 300-3X processes three components using the Arburg plastic freeforming (APF) technology, enabling industrial additive manufacturing (AM) of complex functional parts in hard/soft combinations with support structures. The machine also offers more space, higher build chamber temperatures, and can be automated and integrated into networked production lines.
The Freeformer 300-3X has a 300cm3 surface area capacity, 50% higher than the Freeformer 200-3X. The build chamber can house larger, small-volume batches and parts up to 234mm x 134mm x 230mm. 3X stands for 3-axis movement of the part carrier in X, Y, and Z.
A two-part build chamber door allows feed hoppers to be refilled during machine operation by opening the top half of the door. The heated build chamber only needs to be opened for inserting the part platform and removing the finished parts. Automatic opening and closing of the build chamber and optional robot interfaces also enable AM automation and connectivity.
An optional closed cooling system with an industrial cooling water connection enables high-temperature materials to be processed at build chamber temperatures up to 200°C.
The Liné Machines Aerostar’s compact design offers flexible pallet handling configurations. The closed structure ensures high rigidity while reducing temperature change effects, providing high precision and geometrical stability.
A lightweight, rigid mobile structure combined with linear motor drives allow smooth movement, guaranteeing accuracy and excellent surface finishing on machined parts when operating at high feed rate and acceleration.
Pallet loading/unloading is done offline, outside of the machining zone, on an intelligent twist-and-tilt loading station.
Modular grooving tools
TungModularSystem grooving and parting tools feature exchangeable modular blades that enable various tool combinations with minimum tool investment and inventory. Its secure insert clamping design and high-pressure through-coolant promotes long insert life and effective chip control for efficient grooving operations. The modular system streamlines tool changeover inside the machine, reducing downtime and tool inventory costs compared to monoblock shank holders.
Modular blades added to the standard line accommodate TungCut grooving inserts with 2mm to 6mm grooving widths in various geometries and grades and 4-cornered TetraForce-Cut and TetraMini-Cut inserts. All can use CHP, a high pressure through-coolant supply for chip control.
Quick change collet chucks
DKF series low-profile collet chucks feature a compact nose to increase tool clearance in tight workpiece and machining environments. With a fixed actuation system, DKF Quick-Change Compact Collet Chucks are engineered for first- and second-operation machining.
The fixed-length collet chuck is for bar machining and suitable for DC Varibore collet types with gripping ranges from 4mm to 65mm. The chuck tool allows changes within 10 seconds.
The collet chucks are easy to install and mount, and offer long service life. Mounting bolts and a custom-machined drawtube connector allow a chuck to be used out of the box. Collet chucks mount directly to the lathe spindle or use a precision adaptor plate to ensure consistent mounting without correction. With minimal need for adjustment, there is less machine downtime. Precision fit enhances overall system rigidity, and collet chuck bodies are case hardened for rigidity, strength, and durability.