Hundreds of members from three of the largest manufacturing associations in the nation recently came together to discuss the most relevant and crucial topics affecting the manufacturing industry today.

The third edition of The MFG Meeting, themed “Rethink…Refocus…Reinvent,” drew nearly 700 manufacturing leaders. The event, which gave attendees an opportunity to attend a variety of interactive breakout sessions centered on current issues, was organized by AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology, the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA), and the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA).
Together, these associations comprise more than 4,000 small and medium-sized manufacturers and distributors that provide products and services for aerospace, defense, automotive, construction, energy, medical and many other industries in the United States and abroad.

Sandvik Coromant, the largest worldwide manufacturer of tools for machining and a leading innovator in manufacturing technology, was an MFG Gold Sponsor. The firm’s president, John Israelsson, voiced how significant the event, held March 5-8 in Waikoloa, Hawaii, was in allowing chief manufacturing leaders to exchange ideas, thoughts and insight.

“The ability for all of us in these three major associations to learn from each other and with each other through the presentations helps the entire manufacturing industry become more innovative and productive,” he said. “The presentations on technology – new technology and getting the most from existing technology – are always a valuable experience, and I look forward to sharing what we’ve learned with the entire industry.”

From start to finish
The event was made up of a series of presentations, beginning with Illinois Tool Work’s recipe for success from Roland Martel, the firm’s Executive Vice President, Automotive, Appliance and Industrial. Under Martel’s leadership, the division has successfully used the 80/20 rule as a business redesign tool to simplify its business structure.

According to Martel, the underlying principle of 80/20 is straightforward: 80 percent of business sales are derived from 20 percent of its product offering sold to key customers. Following this concept has lead to simplification and focus on those aspects of the business that are vital toward servicing Illinois Tool Work customers.

Next, John Walker, Chairman of Oxford Economics, and Ken Mayland, President of Clearview Economics, gave their forecasts on what’s ahead for manufacturing in the years to come. The two had differing opinions on the effectiveness of measures being put in play by the Administration and Federal Reserve. However, they agreed that the manufacturing technology market would not fall off the cliff any time soon.

The market will experience some ups and downs, they said, but will, in general, remain at the relatively high level of sales experienced over the past three years. Neither expects the national economy to sink into another recession, that manufacturing is positioned to remain strong.

Scott Klososky, Principle at Future Point of View, used his presentation to share his insights on new and future trends in technology. He advised the audience to tap the “mind hive” – crowd sourcing for accelerated innovation – and use data to adapt and take advantage of the latest technological advances in order to stay ahead of the competition.

A Learning Experience
Many who attended the event said they found it enlightening, educational and extremely insightful, including Rick Kline, Sr., Chairman of Gardner Business Media.

“The success of this MFG meeting reflects the remarkable resilience of US manufacturing,” he said. “Once again, bringing together three organizations that represent technology suppliers, distributors and end users strengthens all of the companies involved.”

He added that while “manufacturing is doing well overall,” many concerns remain – and this event effectively addressed those concerns.

“This meeting highlighted the areas that remain worrisome, especially uncertainty in government policy toward spending and taxation,” he said. “We have to keep pulling together to maintain the encouraging prospects we enjoy in the short term and make the strategic adjustments needed to thrive in the long term.”

AMT President Douglas K. Woods said the meeting “was another successful collaborative industry event,” both educationally and in making contacts.

“The combination of economic presentations, a thought-provoking technology session, inspirational speakers, and focused breakout sessions provided a great variety of content for members,” he said. “But, as always, the highest value of attending this event came from the opportunity to network with members, colleagues and old friends.”

NTMA President Dave Tilstone concurred.

“The NTMA was excited to be a part of The 2013 MFG Meeting,” Tilstone says. “To have these powerful industry associations come together to support manufacturing shows the positive effects of collaborating around a common goal. This event provided the perfect atmosphere to discuss the importance of increasing corporate competitiveness in our transforming industry.”

PMA President William E. Gaskin concluded, “One of the most positive take-aways from the 2013 MFG Meeting was confirmation from participants that while they are extraordinarily frustrated at the lack of clear and decisive action by the President and members of Congress on tax, economic and regulatory issues critical to manufacturing sector, they have experienced growth – and in many cases, significant growth – over the past year, and they expect to continue to do so in the future.”

He added that PMA, AMT and NTMA members are “almost universally optimistic about business conditions over the next few years, but they are concerned that inept decision-making in Washington, D.C. could derail recovery and creation of jobs.”

Next year’s MFG Meeting is slated for March 5-8, 2014 in Phoenix.


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