I received a couple of press releases this week that offered optimistic views about the state of manufacturing at present in the U.S.

<b>FMA Leadership Summit</b>
The Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA) Leaderhip Summit held March 15 in Orlando featured Emily DeRocco, president of The Manufacturing Institute and the new National Center for the American Workforce, and Dan DiMicco, chairman, president and CEO of Nucor Corporation, the leading U.S. steel producer and the world’s largest recycler. Each told the gathering of more than 200 executives at the premiere conferences for the processing and fabricating industry that the manufacturing sector can again be a global leader.

DeRocco outlined how even in today’s tough economic climate, U.S. manufacturing represents the world’s eighth largest economy, pays premium compensation when compared to non-manufacturing jobs, offers the strongest multiplier effect, and outpaces global rivals in research and development.

However, she noted a recent survey revealed 32 percent of companies reported “moderate to serious skills shortages in the hiring pool” and that “technological advances in modern manufacturing require more advanced skill sets.

DiMicco painted a bleaker picture of the sector’s current status, citing the large number of manufacturing jobs lost since its high point in 1998 and reporting the current level is the lowest since 1941. “How did we get here?” he asked. “A massive failure of trade policies. And, we bought into a failed economic model that a service-based economy could replace a manufacturing-based economy.”

DiMicco asserted manufacturing can lead the way to create more jobs and real wealth via several ways. One is to achieve energy independence by “developing all domestic energy resources – traditional and renewable. This will create jobs by building an energy infrastructure and driving R&D in the energy sector.” Another critical strategy, he said, is to “balance our trade deficit and restore global trade balance.” A third emphasis must be upgrading a crumbling infrastructure to “lay the foundation for tomorrow’s manufacturers.
            
<b>Executive Survey</b>

Senior management at U.S. manufacturing companies are significantly more optimistic about their own companies’ growth than they were just three months ago in November, according to a Grant Thornton LLP <a href=”http://www.GrantThornton.com/BOI”>February survey</a>. Nine in 10 (91%) report that they are optimistic about their companies’ growth in the next six months, up from 81% in November.
 
As for the economy, 60% believe that the U.S. economy will improve in the next six months, up from 49% in November. However, those planning to increase hiring in the next six months saw a drop to 44% in February from 49% in November.

<b>Industry Personnel Moves</b>

GE Home & Business Solutions announced that Jody Markopoulos has been named president and CEO of <a href=”http://www.ge-ip.com/”>GE Intelligent Platforms</a>, a global provider of software, hardware, and services. Markopoulos, who will report to GE Home & Business Solutions President and CEO Charlene Begley, succeeds Maryrose Sylvester who was recently named as president and CEO of GE Lighting.

Markopoulos, a 17-year GE veteran, has led the Sourcing organization for GE Energy since 2005. She is responsible for the management and procurement of over $16B in materials and services worldwide and leads a 1,300-person global team. She has grown the supply base and organization in emerging markets helping pave the way for global growth. The global direct buy in emerging markets was increased four times under her direction. During her tenure at GE Energy, Markopoulos held a variety of roles with increasing responsibility in Supply Chain and Quality. Prior to her current role, Markopoulos was general manager of Quality.

Meanwhile, <a href=”http://www.fieldbus.org”>The Fieldbus Foundation</a> announced the appointment of Larry O’Brien as global marketing manager. Formerly of ARC Advisory Group, O’Brien has 18 years of experience in the process automation business as a research director and analyst at ARC, and has been closely tracking and reporting on developments surrounding Foundation fieldbus for much of his career.

As global marketing manager, O’Brien will be responsible for developing the strategic marketing direction for FOUNDATION technology worldwide. He will oversee activities such as fieldbus seminar programs, trade show exhibitions, technical demonstrations and marketing communications.

<b>Manufacturing Engineering Application Development and Numerical Libraries White Paper Now Available</b>

Manufacturing engineers, many of whom are already contending with slower performance of legacy applications originally developed for 32-bit processors that are now operating in 64-bit systems or supercomputer-level resources, can now obtain a white paper tailored for concerns of environmental researchers–“The Benefits of Using Rigorously Tested Routines from Numerical Libraries—Manufacturing Engineering Edition” by writing to [email protected] at the <a href=”http://www.nag.com/”>Numerical Algorithms Group</a>.

The “The Benefits of Using Rigorously Tested Routines from Numerical Libraries” white paper is geared to help robotics and automation engineers understand how and why to incorporate use of extensively documented numerical libraries into their application development practices.

Rob Meyer, NAG CEO and author of this white paper explains, “This white paper speaks to matters at the core of industry—from yield analysis and process control, quality assurance, and design of automated systems, etc—that rely on mathematical and statistical methods that ultimately affect time-to-market. To the extent that industrial engineers’ work involves significant numerical computation, it is timely to re-examine how computational frameworks are or are not designed for maximum performance.”

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