Metals and Manufacturing Outlook Newsletter March 2015

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Presented by All Metals & Forge Group, the MetalsWatch! newsletter was first published in print in 1988 for All Metals & Forge Group. Its primary focus was to be informative to the metalworking industries in the United States. Its original circulation was 2500 organizations. Today, Metals & Manufacturing Outlook™ (formerly MetalsWatch!) has a global circulation of 85,000 companies from a very diverse group of industries, including Aerospace, Defense, Oil, Chemical, Automotive, Medical, Electronics, Heavy Industry, Shipbuilding, amongst many others. Feel free to read the most current issue below, or Click here to view the back issues in our Library at the bottom of the page. To Subscribe to Metals & Manufacturing Outlook™ and receive future issues, please enter your e-mail address and click on Subscribe.

 

Metals & Manufacturing Outlook – March 2015

I. Cover Story: CELTIC BOOM, GALLIC GLOOM
II. NORTH AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE
III. U.S. FORGING INDUSTRY
IV. MANUFACTURING TALK RADIO
V. EUROZONE
VI. ASIA OUTLOOK
VII. SOUTH AMERICA
VIII. THE MANUFACTURING SCENE
IX. THE FINAL WORD

Publisher’s Statement:

There is lots of good news across America as the economy continues to steam along.  The February jobs report of 295,000 hires is an eye-popping number as the ISM’s Purchasing Managers Index floats above 50 in economic growth territory month after month.

The rest of the world – not so good.  Russia’s economy is in recession and in real trouble.  The government built their revenues on crude oil at $100 a barrel; at $50 a barrel it is hemorrhaging cash reserves.  While Russia has lowered its key interest rate to 15% after reaching an all-time high of 17% in December 2014, China has lowered its interest rate to stimulate its economy.

There are pockets of progress in Europe but nothing is sweeping the EU.  The strong dollar has created some buying opportunities for U.S. manufacturers importing from Europe or Asia.

The Middle East continues to self-destruct economically with OPEC keeping production high, Iraq, Syria and Iran embroiled with the creep of ISIS, Libya still unstable after the fall of Gadhafi, the Ukraine in its was with Russia, the collapse of Yemen’s government and whatever conflict may arise tomorrow or next week in an area of the world that has not seen lasting socio-economic peace since the time of the pharaohs.  Fortunately, no single economy there has much impact on the global economy in dollars and cents, but the troubled land is always a concern for neighbors near and far.

So, we encourage you to focus on your business in America.  Look into exporting now so when the dollar weakens or other currencies strengthen, you will be ready to implement a new revenue stream for your company.  Don’t bank on U.S. consumers going on a spending spree; money they are saving on those lower gas prices is being used for savings or to reduce debts, not DIY projects or new appliances.  But spending is strong, production is strong, and there is an advantage to source quality raw materials from overseas to reduce costs here at home.

Sincerely,

Lewis A. Weiss
Publisher

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I. COVER STORY:  CELTIC BOOM, GALLIC GLOOM 

End of the RainbowThe US and the UK economies are looking in good shape. There is a tentative agreement in the west coast port strike. Canada is slipping, not helped by lower oil prices. China and Japan are doing pretty well, as is India – in spite of a slight downward blip in its PMI reading.

The news from Europe is anything but exciting, but the Irish PMI moved to a 15-year high, while France once again found its place at the foot of the major eight Eurozone economies’ table.

Nor is news good from Brazil, where the world’s seventh-biggest economy is undergoing a corruption scandal at Petrobras, the state-controlled giant oil company, which is dragging in a number of the country’s biggest construction firms. The country is in the 3rd month of recession.

The PMI figure from the Institute of Supply Management was at 52.9 percent in February, down slightly from January’s 53.5 percent. This represents manufacturing expansion for the 21st consecutive month and growth in the overall economy for the 69th consecutive month.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis came out with its ‘second’ estimate for the annual rate of Real GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2014, placing it at 2.2 percent, as compared to 2.6 percent for its first estimate.

The Markit PMI for the US manufacturing sector was up to 55.1 from January’s 53.9 figure, as manufacturing growth went to a four-month high. Production and New Orders both increased at faster rates than those at the start of the year.

World crude steel production for the 65 reporting countries for  the month of January 2015 was 133Mt, down 2.9 percent from the January 2014 figure. The capacity utilization ratio at 72.5 percent, was down 4.4 percent y-o-y and down 0.4 percent from December 2014.

IHS states its predictions for 2015, including a solid US growth in the region of 2.6 to 3.0 percent; a sluggish eurozone recovery and a robust UK recovery; a weak growth momentum in Japan’s economy; a slowing down in China’s growth rate that will still leave it stronger than most; struggle in some emerging markets such as Brazil and Russia but better performance in some North African, Emerging European and Middle Eastern countries; emerging markets will in general lift the global growth average; commodity prices will slide further; deflation will be a bigger worry than inflation; the Federal Reserve, the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England will probably raise interest rates, while most others will either hold or provide more stimulus; the US dollar will rise and the euro and the yen will fall; easing of spending restrictions by households and businesses, successful in the US and in the UK, will be implemented in Europe and Japan.

US crude steel production, for January 2015 was 7.4Mt, up 0.4 percent y-o-y.

Primary Global Aluminum Production in January 2015 was 4.612 million tonnes. Of this total, 2.419 million tonnes, or just over  52 percent, was produced in China.

Here are the latest figures for US new car and light truck sales for ‘the big eight’ for February 2015. The SAAR figure is now running at  around 16.2 million vehicles for the year 2015. February was a bitterly cold month and the car market suffered towards month end.

The ‘Big Eight’ January ’15 January ’14 YTD % change
General Motors 231378 222104 4.2
Ford 179673 183340 -2
Fiat 160250 151401 5.8
Toyota 189467 159284 13.3
Honda 105466 115360 5
Nissan 118436 90470 2.7
Hyundai/Kia 96535 90221 7
Volkswagen 25719 27112 -5.2
Total new cars and light trucks 1257619 1193872 5.3


II. NORTH AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE

North America USAThe Institute of Supply Management PMI figure registered 52.9 percent in February, 0.6 percentage points below January’s 53.5 percent reading, representing expansion in manufacturing for the 21st consecutive month. Twelve of the eighteen industries reported growth in February, in order, Paper Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Furniture & Related Products; Primary Metals; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Fabricated Metal Products; Machinery; Transportation Equipment; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; and Chemical Products. Three industries reported contraction in February, namely Textile Mills; Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; and Computer & Electronic Products.

Comments on the month from the manufacturing sector are increasingly stressing the effects of the west coast port strike on the US manufacturing business.  Even though comments are generally positive, the sheen of optimism has been a little tarnished by both the port situation and the decrease in the price of oil and natural gas.

The following 5 components of the ISM’s PMI, New Orders, Production, Employment, Supplier Deliveries and Inventories are equally weighted and used to calculate the PMI number. Brad Holcomb has the role as Chair of the Institute for Supply Management™ Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, I write the monthly ISM Manufacturing Report On Business® based on the survey results of approximately 350 supply management professionals across 18 different industry sectors. The Report On Business® is released on the first business day of each month, and features the PMI Index as its key measure.  A monthly PMI over 50.0 indicates an expanding economy; a number over 60.0 indicates strong manufacturing output, although overheating may occur.

  1. The ISM New Orders Index for February, at 52.5 percent, was down slightly by 0.4 percentage points from January’s 52.9 percent reading, representing growth in new orders for the 27th consecutive month. Ten industries reported growth in new orders in February, including, in order, Paper Products; Primary Metals; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Transportation Equipment; Machinery; Fabricated Metal Products; and Chemical Products. Four  industries showed a decrease in February, namely Textile Mills; Leather & Allied Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; and Computer & Electronic Products.
  2. The ISM Production Index, at 53.7 percent in February, was down 2.8 percentage points from January’s 56.5 percent reading. This represents growth in production for the 30th consecutive month. Growth was noted in ten industries, including, in order, Paper Products; Primary Metals; Furniture & Related Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Transportation Equipment; Chemical Products; and Machinery. Four industries reported a decrease in production in February, namely Textile Mills; Leather & Allied Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; and Computer & Electronic Products.
  3. The ISM Employment Index for February, at 51.4 percent, is down 2.7 percentage points from January’s reading of 54.1 percent, representing an increase in employment for the 21st consecutive month. Growth was reported in ten industries including, in order, Printing & Related Support Activities; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Primary Metals; Fabricated Metal Products; Machinery; and Paper Products. The four industries reporting a decrease in employment in February are: Textile Mills; Computer & Electronic Products; Transportation Equipment; and Chemical Products.
  4. The ISM Supplier Deliveries Index – to manufacturing organizations – slowed in February at a faster rate relative to January as the Supplier Deliveries Index registered 54.3 percent, or 1.4 percentage points higher than January’s 52.9 percent reading. A reading below 50 percent represents faster deliveries, above 50 percent means slower deliveries. Slower supplier deliveries were noted in 11 industries in February including, in order, Textile Mills; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Furniture & Related Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Chemical Products; Transportation Equipment; Machinery; Paper Products; and Primary Metals. Faster supplier deliveries in February were noted in Fabricated Metal Products only. Six industries reported no change in supplier deliveries in February.
  5. The ISM Inventories Index, at 52.5 percent for February, is 1.5 percentage points higher than the 51.0 percent reading for January, indicating a growth in raw materials inventories for the second consecutive month. Nine industries reported higher inventories in February including, in order, Textile Mills; Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Primary Metals; Fabricated Metal Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; and Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products. Four industries reported lower inventories in February, namely Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Transportation Equipment; Chemical Products; and Computer & Electronic Products.

The following 5 components of the ISM’s PMI, Customer Inventories, Prices, Backlog of Orders, Exports and Imports are not used to calculate the PMI number but are tracked for trends in the marketplace

  1. The ISM Customers’ Inventories Index, registered 46.5 percent in February, 4.0 percentage points higher than January’s 42.5 reading, meaning that customers’ inventories are considered to be too low but higher than January’s.Three manufacturing industries showed too high customers’ inventories in February, namely Fabricated Metal Products; Chemical Products; and Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products. Eight industries reported too low customers’ inventories in February, namely Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Plastics & Rubber Products; Machinery; Transportation Equipment; Furniture & Related Products; Primary Metals; Paper Products; and Computer & Electronic Products.

2. The ISM Prices Index registered 35 percent in February, the same reading as in January, indicating a decrease in raw material prices for the fourth consecutive month.  In February 8 percent of respondents reported paying higher prices, 38 percent reported paying lower prices and 54 percent reported paying the same prices as in January. No  industry reported paying higher prices in February. Fourteen industries reported paying lower prices, namely Wood Products; Textile Mills; Paper Products; Plastics & Rubber products; Furniture & Related Products, Fabricated Metal Products; Primary Metals; Machinery; Chemical Products; Petroleum & Coal Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Transportation Equipment; and Computer & Electronic Products.

Up in price in February were Butter, Electrical Components, Freight and Scrap Steel **

Down in price in January were Aluminum (3), Carbon Steel (2), Copper (7), Diesel (5), Fuel oil (2), Gasoline (5), HDPE Resin (3), LDPE Resin, Nickel (2), Oil (3), PET Resin (4), Plastic Resin (3), Polypropylene Resin (3), Scrap Steel (3), Stainless Steel (4) Steel (2), Steel, Cold-Rolled and Steel, Hot-Rolled (4).

In short supply in February were Electrical Equipment, Imported Items and Stainless Steel.

Scrap steel was reported both up and down in price.  The figures in parentheses represent the number of months listed.

3.The ISM Backlog of Orders Index was at 51.5 percent in February, 5.5 percentage points up on January’s 46.0 percent reading, representing an expansion in order backlogs after one month’s contraction. Of the 86 percent of respondents reporting, 23 percent reported greater backlogs, 20 percent reduced backlogs and 57 percent reported no change from January. Eight industries reported increased order backlogs in February, including, in order,  Primary Metals; Paper Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Machinery: and Transportation Equipment. Six industries reported reduced backlogs in February, including, in order, Textile Mills; Plastics & Rubber Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;  and Computer & Electronic Products.

4 The ISM New Export Orders Index at 48.5 percent for February is 1.0 percentage points down on January’s 49.5 percent reading. The month’s reading represents two months of contraction in exports following 25 consecutive months of growth. Three industries reported an increase in New Export Orders in February, namely Fabricated Metal Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; and  Computer & Electronic Products  Eight industries reported a decrease in New Export Orders in February, namely Wood Products; Furniture & Related Products; Primary Metals; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Paper Products; Transportation Equipment; Chemical Products; and Machinery. Seven industries reported no change from January.

5. The ISM Imports Index, at 54.0 percent in February, is 1.5 percentage point down on January’s 55.5 percent reading. This represents the 25th consecutive month of growth in imports. Seven industries reported an increase in imports in February, in order, Printing and Related Support Activities; Primary Metals; Furniture & Related Products; Machinery; Computers & Electronic Products; Chemical Products; and Fabricated Metal Products. Four industries reported a decrease in imports in February, namely, Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances and Components; and Transportation Equipment.

CANADA’S RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) Manufacturing PMI took a further drop in February to 48.7, from January’s 51.0 reading. The month saw a moderate slump in overall business conditions throughout the manufacturing sector. Production, New Orders and Employment were all down in February, with the lower oil price adversely impacting demand in the oil and gas sector. Exports were also down.

Despite bitterly cold weather, a weaker dollar and a big drop in   crude oil prices, February light vehicle sales in Canada were up   3.3 percent y-o-y to 109,248 units across the country. Light      trucks, up 5.1 percent y-o-y, accounted for a record 63.3 percent   of the Canadian market.

Mexico saw its manufacturing PMI ease from January’s 56.6 percent to 54.4 percent in February. Manufacturers are still reporting further strong increases in Production and New Orders, but both fell back from January’s 25-month high. The good job creation rate is maintained.

Mexico produced 1.55 Mt of crude steel in January 2015, a 6.4 y-o-y decrease.


III. US FORGING INDUSTRY

Forging Press All Metals & Forge Group LLC announced that its forgings are Ultrasonic Tested (UT) tested per ASTM A388, ‘not just capable of’.  This is a commitment that the quality is in the part, not just on the paperwork, and the company provides written test results.   Forgings are also machined to a 250 RMS (rough machined surface) or better to reduce the amount of prep work required before a forging can be placed on a CNC machine.  This greatly diminishes the wear on machine tools encountering rough surfaces as parts are machined to final dimensions.  The company also protects forgings from rust by delivering oxidation sensitive alloys with an oil coating, further reducing surface preparation for finish machining.

The company also announced that it has capabilities to finish machine many parts to final print dimensions with the cost included in the price.  This can save manufacturers who either finish machine parts or send them out for finish machining trucking costs, labor costs, machining time, machine maintenance and other expenses.

Check our forging capabilities here.

IV. MANUFACTURING TALK RADIO

Manufacturing Talk Radio, heard at www.mfgtalkradio.com has increased its audience share rankings with live shows and podcasts covering topics that provide manufacturers with actual solutions and actionable information, not just talk radio chatter.

Shows for February included the latest ISM Report on Business® presented by committee chair Brad Holcomb, who covers the material in more depth than the sound bites of the nightly news. Following Brad was Linda Rigano, Media Director with ThomasNet.com and M.L. Peck, Senior Vice President with ISM announcing some of the winners of the 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars who were selected from hundreds of entries. The bios of these individuals and their professional accomplishments can be found at www.thomasnet.com/30under30 and are worth the read.

The February 10th show included 5 guests along with co-hosts Tim Grady and Lew Weiss:  Mark Hirzel, President of Los Angeles Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association, Peter Freidmann, Executive Director Agriculture Transport Coalition, discussing the LA Port issue.

Chad Moutray, Chief Economist of  NAM, Jonathan Gold, Vice President, Supply Chain and Customs Policy, National Retail Federation and Jason Brewer, Vice President of Communications and Advocacy at the Retail Industry Leaders Association.  The contract dispute between the PMA and ILWU and the crippling job actions by both parties caused losses for companies across the country, from mom and pop farms in the nation’s heartland to major retailers with hundreds of stores in America. Hear it at http://mfgtalkradio.com/category/radio-shows/

On February 17th, Congressman Rod Blum from the 1st District in Iowa joined the discussion about the ports, the impact on businesses in his district, and how Washington should respond to this, as well as tax relief for manufacturers and other topics.

February 24th was the first show and a primer in an upcoming series on 3D Printing.  We encourage readers to review this show and tune into upcoming broadcasts as 3D Printing gains an industrial foothold that will speed products to market but could displace workers in many manufacturing plants that create prototypes or prototype parts for R&D.  3D Printing is a 3.8 Billion Dollar industry projecting to be 8 billion by 2020.

March shows will include Brad Holcomb’s review of the ISM’s Report on Business® for March, a closer look at the 30 Under 30 winners from ThomasNet.com, new developments in 3D Printing as it rapidly evolves in rapid prototyping and even finished parts, a guide on how to export for any business in America presented by the Department of Commerce, and an update on Aerospace and the huge production run of replacement places for the aging fleet around the world.  Tune in at www.mfgtalkradio.com for the live show each Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. ET or listen to the previous show podcasts available on the site, on iTunes or Podbean.


V. EUROZONE

 eurozone Markit’s Eurozone Manufacturing Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for February was unchanged from January’s 51.0 reading. Overall Eurozone manufacturing showed modest growth in February, but France fell once again to the bottom of the table (47.6). Employment growth was led by Ireland, Italy and Spain with further cuts in France and Austria.  Ireland and Spain stood out in terms of growth performance, with Germany, the Netherlands and Italy showing only mediocre expansion and France, Greece and Austria bringing up the rear. Some country PMIs are shown in the table, with last month’s PMIs in parentheses.

PMI High/low
Ireland 57.5 (55.1) 182-month high
Spain 54.2 (54.7) 2-month low
Netherlands 52.2 (54.1) 5-month low
Italy 51.9 (52.1) 7-month high
Germany 51.1 (49.9) 2-month high
Austria 48.7 (48.5) 2-month high
Greece 48.4 (48.3) 2-month high
France 47.6 (49.2) 2-month low

 

Crude steel production in Germany in January 2015 was at 3.7Mt, up 0.5 percent y-o-y; in Italy 1.9Mt down 11.3 percent y-o-y; in France 1.3Mt, down 10.8 percent y-o-y and in Spain 1.3Mt, up 11.8 percent y-o-y.

A little further east, Russia’s crude steel production for January, at 6.1Mt, was up 6.0 percent y-o-y while Ukraines’s was 1.9Mt, down 25.2 percent y-o-y.

Western European car sales continue to show good gains, with Germany’s sales up 6.6 percent y-o-y to 223,254 new registrations, in February, France’s up 4.1 percent to 147,130, Italy up 13 percent to 134.697 and Spain, still on a scrappage program, up 26 percent to 86,717

The UK saw its Markit PMI move up to 54.1 percent in February. It is estimated that British manufacturing is growing at a quarterly rate of around 0.5 percent compared with a rate of 0.2 percent in the last quarter of 2014. The growth is, however, domestic driven and reflects increases in consumer goods production, rather than machinery and equipment, which would be a sign of increased business inverstment.

So far this year, UK car sales are up 8.3 percent on the same period a year earlier. There have now been 36 consecutive months of sales increases in the UK automotive industry..

The JP Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI – a composite index produced by JP Morgan and Markit in association with ISM and IFPSM (International Federation of Purchasing and Supply Management) – improved slightly to 52.0 from January’s 51.7 figure. This shows the Global manufacturing sector expanding for the 27th consecutive month, and the PMI at a six-month high.


VI. ASIA OUTLOOK

steelforge-rolled Crude steel production in Asia for January 2015 was at 89.4Mt, with China producing 65.5Mt, down 4.7 percent y-o-y; Japan 9.0Mt down 4.0 percent y-o-y; India 7.07Mt, up 0.3 percent y-o-y and  South Korea 5.78Mt, down 4.4 percent y-o-y. Taiwan produced 2.05MT in January.

The HSBC China manufacturing PMI for February went up from January’s reading of 49.7 percent to 50.7 percent. Operating conditions in the manufacturing sector improved for the first time in four months, following the slight deterioration at the beginning of 2015. Companies experienced the strongest expansion in production since last summer, with total new business also improving at a faster rate. There was, however, a fall in export orders, together with a slight decrease in employment.

In January 2015, 2,040,000 passenger cars and 280,000 commercial vehicles were sold in China.

In Japan, the Markit manufacturing PMI is at 51.6 percent in February, slightly down from January’s figure of 52.2 percent. The month saw Japan’s operating conditions continue to improve with production up at the fastest pace since before April 2014’s tax increase. New orders and employment show signs of improvement, and the yen devaluation has kicked off an increase in export orders not seen since December 2013.

Total new vehicle sales in Japan for the month of Febuary 2015, at 482,103 units, were down y-o-y by 14.7 percent from the 565,168 units registered in February 2014. At this point in 2014, people were still rushing to car dealers to beat the April 2014 sales tax increase.

India’s manufacturing (HSBC) PMI dropped from January’s 52.9 percent reading to 51.2 in February. Production and new orders expanded at a slower pace than that seen in the past four months, with an attendant drop in employment. There was however an increase in new export order intake which augers well for coming months.


VII.  SOUTH AMERICA

Brazil Brazil’s crude steel production for the month of January 2015 was 3.0Mt, a 7.7 percent y-o-y increase.  The manufacturing PMI in Brazil dropped from January’s 50.7 reading to 49.6. There were falls in both production and new orders alongside a softening in demand, and an attendant drop in employment. The weak real is putting up the cost of manufacturing input prices.

But those aren’t Brazil’s only problems. The newly elected president is under extreme pressure about government corruption, and oil production is falling like heads at Petrobras as the government’s oil conglomerate goes through a shake-up.  And the Olympics may be in deeper trouble as turmoil in establishing the Olympic villages, sports venues and pollution clean-up in so far behind schedule that the International Olympic Committee may have to move the games to a former site like London.  The 21 test events will be conducted in 2015 but even if some fail, it may be too late to move the games and the IOC will sport a black eye as the summer of 2016 approaches.

This past week millions of Brazilians have taken to the streets to protest the new President’s lack of activity, in trying to improve the economic dilemma in Brazil, now in it’s 4th month of economic recession.

Due to the corruption, bribery, claims of election fraud and much more, the citizens of San Paulo, 1 million strong, are calling for the presidents removal.  This is a wait and see issue, it will not resolve quickly for sure.


VIII.  THE MANUFACTURING SCENE : ADVANCED MANUFACTURING (3d Printing)

Teamwork of businesspeopleA recent eye-catching article in Forge Magazine is found worthy of sharing. The article asks the question as to whether North American Forging is Advanced Manufacturing, and in fact answers the question in a very positive way.

Some of us may think of forging in an almost nostalgic way, picturing the village blacksmith forging his iron, or ancient craftsmen working with their bronze. The truth is that the basic principles of the process haven’t really changed, in that the metal is heated to a certain temperature and hammered into a desired shape. The  grain flow and the accompanying improvement in mechanical properties were surely lost on the ‘smithy’ but he surely got to know a good bit of iron from a bad one.

Today we’ve moved on from wrought iron and bronze to steel, aluminum alloys, nickel alloys – many of which are called superalloys – and titanium alloys. The parts made from these alloys are asked to perform at times to near impossible limits, requiring very high strength and toughness properties. It’s difficult, for example, to imagine an aircraft or an automobile without some exotic form of forging in it. The mechanical properties of the forged parts involved here allow planes to touch down on landing gear that has been very carefully designed, heated, forged, cooled , heat treated and machined, all to very demanding parameters. Similarly with the automobile, where occasional forays onto very rough terrain would surely cause serious damage were it not for the toughness of certain forged parts.

Parts are forged on presses with tonnage capacities that would only have been dreamed of a generation ago, to tolerances that allow production of parts with a minimum of machining. Heating and reheat furnaces must be operated at strictly controlled temperatures to prevent overheating but to allow optimum solution of carbides and other additions. Temperature must be controlled throughout the forging process, and the finish forging temperature must be carefully monitored. All subsequent processes, heat treatment, machining and, where applicable, welding, must be performed using the best equipment under the strictest supervision.

Yes, North American Welding is Advanced Manufacturing, and as such it requires all the right people to watch over it, from the managers and designers through the skilled operators, who will ensure that the materials and equipment that are such an integral part of the forging process perform to their maximum.

The story of North American Forging is a long story, and we’ll come back to it from time to time over the coming months.

THE ECONOMIST magazine, in its latest weekly report on world economies, highlights changes in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Industrial Production, Consumer Prices and Unemployment Rates for what it considers the world’s major economies. These data are not necessarily good to the present day, but are mostly applicable to at latest the past two months, and show definite trends in the world economy. The figures are qualified as being the latest available, and with reference to a given quarter or month.  The figures for GDP represent the % change on the previous quarter, annual rate. The industrial production figures represent year-on-year changes, as do the consumer prices increases. The unemployment figures, %, are for the month as noted.

GDP Indl Prodn Cons prices Unemployt
United States +2.6 (qtr) +4.8 (Jan) +0.8 (Dec) 5.7 (Jan)
Canada +2.8 (qtr) +2.1 (Nov) +1.5 (Dec) 6.6 (Jan)
China +6.1 (qtr) +7.9 (Dec) +0.8 (Jan) 4.1 (Qtr 4)
Japan +2.2 (qtr) +0.1 (Dec) +2.4 (Dec) 3.4 (Dec)
Britain +2.0 (qtr) +0.5 (Dec) +0.3 (Jan) 5.7 (Nov)
Euro Area +1.4 (qtr) -0.2 (Dec) -0.6 (Jan) 11.4 (Dec)
France +0.3 (qtr) – 0.1 (Dec) +0.4 (Jan) 10.3 (Dec)
Germany +2.8 (qtr) -0.4 (Dec) +0.4 (Jan) 6.5 (Jan)
Spain +2.8 (qtr) +2.2 (Dec) – 1.3 (Jan) 23.7 (Dec)
India + 4.0 (qtr) +1.7 (Dec) + 5.1 (Jan) 8.8 (2013)
Brazil + 0.3 (qtr) – 2.8 (Dec) + 7.1 (Jan) 4.3 (Dec)
Argentina – 2.1 (qtr) – 2.4 (Dec) 6.9 (Qtr 4)
Mexico + 2.7 (qtr) + 3.0 (Dec) + 3.1 (Jan) 4.4 (Dec)


IX. THE FINAL WORD

manufacturing The US and the UK economies are doing well. China, Japan and India are looking pretty healthy. Europe is, to say the least, mixed.

It is hoped that the tentative agreement on the west coast port situation will lead to settlement.

Something good and positive needs to happen in Brazil

GALLUP’s US Economic Confidence Index averaged +1 for the month of February, down 2 points from January, reflecting a significant downturn in the second half of the month. The Job Creation Index for the month of February was +29, a point up from January and just below the seven-year high seen in September 2014.

Still optimistic.

 

By Royce Lowe, Contributing Writer.

 

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