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NewsDesk: Skills Gap to Drive Manufacturing Power Shift


The shortage of high-skilled workers will continue driving a shift in manufacturing power toward Asia, unless US policy makers adopt new approaches to boost competitiveness, two separate manufacturing reports suggest.

The “2013 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index” found that the top indicator of a country’s competitiveness was the supply of talented workers. That indicator was followed by a country’s trade, financial and tax system, and then by the cost of labor and materials, according to the GMCI, which was released on Nov. 16 by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s Global Manufacturing Industry Group and the US Council on Competitiveness.

“Nothing was more important to CEOs than the quality, availability and productivity of a nation’s workforce,” said Craig Giffi, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and consumer and industrial products industry leader, who co-authored the report and lead the research team.

The index is based on an in-depth analysis of survey responses from more than 550 CEOs and other senior leaders at global manufacturing companies and predicts that manufacturing stalwarts such as the US, Germany and Japan will be challenged to maintain their competitive edge against emerging nations, such as China, India and Brazil, over the next five years. The Index lists the US as the world’s third most-competitive manufacturing nation, but predicts it will rank fifth five years from now.NewsDesk Chart

Separately, “Manufacturing the Future: The Next Era of Global Growth and Innovation” (, a major report from the McKinsey Global Institute, projects “a potential shortage of more than 40 million high-skill workers” globally by 2020, which will inevitably help determine how the fast-changing manufacturing sector will shake out longer term.

“Manufacturers have to fight hard to win the war for talent—everything from experts in big data, to executives with deep understanding of emerging markets to skilled production workers. In many places, manufacturers will need to get more  involved in building a talent pipeline.”

That report says that policy makers will need to adopt new approaches to boost competitiveness, too: “A key policy priority for manufacturing is education and skill development.”

McKinsey further paints an exciting “new era of manufacturing” marked by growth, change and more risk than ever before—especially when it comes to volatility in prices and currency exchange rates, as well as supply-chain disruptions.

“Over the next 15 years," McKinsey wrote, "another 1.8 billion people will enter the global consuming class and worldwide consumption will nearly double to $64 trillion.” ME

Economic Outlook

Hurricane Sandy, which devastated parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern US, in addition to the Caribbean, in late October, was just one factor that took a bite out of the US economy in November. The distraction of a US presidential election, which immediately led to a partisan debate over how to avert the looming “fiscal cliff” also has taken a toll.

The Institute for Supply Management (IMS; Tempe, AZ) on Dec. 3 reported that economic activity in the manufacturing sector contracted in November following two months of modest expansion after a summer slowdown. The findings were based on the monthly Manufacturing ISM Report on Business, which is based on data supplied by purchasing and supply executives nationwide. The report also found that the overall economy grew for the 42nd consecutive month.

The PMI registered 49.5%, a decrease of 2.2 percentage points from October’s reading of 51.7 percent, indicating contraction for the fourth time in the last six months. Readings below 50 indicate contraction, while those above 50 indicate expansion. ME

Mergers & Acquisitions

Stratasys Inc. (Minneapolis, MN) and Objet Ltd. (Rehovot, Israel) on Dec. 3 announced the completion of their merger, forming a leader in 3D printing and direct digital manufacturing. The combined company will trade on the NASDAQ stock exchange as Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS). 


InfinityQS International Inc. (Chantilly, VA), a global authority on manufacturing intelligence and enterprise quality, on Nov. 27 announced a strategic partnership with Keops Technologies Inc. (Montreal, Canada), a leading industry IT expert focused on integration and deployment of manufacturing operation management systems (MOM). 

Masahiko MoriOpenings

Dr. Masahiko Mori, president of Mori Seiki Co. Ltd. (Hoffman Estates, IL) on Nov. 7 cut the ribbon at Mori Seiki’s new 200,000 ft2 (18,580 m2) manufacturing factory in Davis, CA.

“In manufacturing the best machine tools possible, we are bringing to US manufacturing industries, the production hardware and software that will serve as the best example and role model of what can be accomplished by manufacturing technologies in our own plant,” Dr. Mori said.

What’s more, at JIMTOF 2012, DMG / Mori Seiki reported that several other new facilities are planned or in progress, including a plant in Seebach, Germany (with an estimated October 2012 startup date); a new production facility in Tianjin, China (September 2013); and a planned production facility in Ulyanovsk, Russia (late 2013).

BASF (Iselin, NJ), the world’s leading chemical company, on Nov. 13 celebrated the grand opening of its new cathode materials production plant in Elyria, OH.

The materials manufactured at the Elyria plant will be used by BASF’s customers to produce advanced lithium-ion batteries. Construction of the new cathode materials plant required an investment of more than $50 million, which was supported by a $24.6 million grant from the US DOE.  


IQMS (Paso Robles, CA), a manufacturing ERP software and MES developer, on Nov. 15 announced that it broke ground on a second 30,000 ft2 (2787 m2) building at its global corporate headquarters. This investment of nearly $5 million will effectively double the amount of square footage at IQMS. 


Unist Inc. (Grand Rapids, MI) on Dec. 4 announced  independent laboratory certification of its Coolube® 2210 and Coolube® 2210EP lubricant’s bio-based content.  Coolube® 2210 was certified with a bio-based content of 93% and Coolube® 2210EP was certified with a bio-based content of 92%.  Unist plans to begin labeling both products with the USDA Certified Bio-Based Product label in 2013.

Birchwood Casey Metal Finishes (Eden Prairie, MN) on Nov. 13 announced that it has changed its brand name to Birchwood® Technologies and it has also revised its logo. The company’s many products and brands include TRU TEMP® and PRESTO BLACK® oxide finishes.

Bernard and Tregaskiss (Beecher, IL) have partnered to launch a new branding initiative in which Bernard will offer only semiautomatic MIG guns and Tregaskiss will focus exclusively on robotic MIG guns and peripherals.

The International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) has named Buffalo, NY-based Crowley Webb as its media agency. IMTS 2014 will be held Sept. 8–13 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

The Coordinate Metrology Society (Benbrook, TX) on Dec. 3 announced it was accepting papers for the 29th annual Coordinate Metrology Systems Conference to be held July 22–26 in San Diego, CA. For more information, visit


Acutronic USA (Pittsburgh), ExOne (North Huntingdon, PA) and Paramount Industries (Langhorne, PA) are the first recipients of Pennsylvania’s Research for Advanced Manufacturing (RAMP) awards. RAMP is a competitive funding program providing small grants to faculty-led university teams that engage in short-term innovation projects in cooperation with Pennsylvania manufacturers.Acutronic USA

Acutronic develops, designs and manufactures precision motion simulators for the aerospace, defense, automotive and consumer industries. ExOne’s expertise lies in 3-D printing at prototype and production levels as well as micromachining processes. A 3DSystems company, Paramount Industries is involved in additive prototyping and manufacturing. The companies will work with teams from Carnegie Mellon and Lehigh universities.

The initial awards were announced at a ceremony at Acutronic USA’s headquarters to celebrate Pennsylvania’s role in winning federal funding for the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII).


FANUC FA America (Hoffman Estates, IL) on Nov. 29 celebrated its 35th anniversary of doing business in the Americas. In 1977, FANUC USA was founded with its original headquarters in Elk Grove Village, IL. Today, FANUC FA America supports all of the Americas with 43 offices throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

NewsDesk is edited by Editor-in-Chief Sarah A. Webster. Please email NewsDesk submissions to


Published Date : 12/13/2012

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