Niobium -- named for a Greek goddess who became a symbol of the tragic mourning mother -- is used to produce stronger, lighter steel for industrial pipes and aircraft parts. It is mined in only three places on Earth, and the price of every kilogram is seven times higher than copper. China Molybdenum Co. outmaneuvered at least 15 companies last month to purchase Anglo American Plc’s niobium and phosphate unit in Brazil, agreeing to pay $1.5 billion, or 50 percent more than the valuation by some analysts.
Manufacturing may be facing some headwinds, but it’s undeniably in the midst of a technological renaissance that is transforming the look, systems, and processes of the modern factory. Despite the risks -- and despite recent history -- industrial manufacturing companies cannot afford to ignore these advances. By embracing them now, they can improve productivity in their own plants, compete against rivals, and maintain an edge with customers who are seeking their own gains from innovation.
The United States steel industry is experiencing the greatest crisis in its history due to record import surges and cheap steel that is flooding global markets from Chinese state-owned and subsidized companies. The result is a steep loss of U.S. production capacity along with thousands of jobs. The impact, as described using the terms by those in the industry, has been "devastating" with long-term "severe" economic consequences for the United States.
The United States is expected to be the most competitive manufacturing nation, moving China into the number two position by 2020, according to the 2016 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index report from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (Deloitte Global) and the Council on Competitiveness (Council). The rankings also reveal a shift among the world’s traditional manufacturing powerhouses due to the Asia Pacific region’s rising influence and declining strength in European and BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
During the State of the Union address earlier this year, President Obama said America should be “offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one.” The president has likely heard what many manufacturing companies say: We need students prepared with the certifications and skills to be productive upon graduation.
Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., went before the House Budget Committee February 3rd to talk up her vision of an “innovation agenda’’ to help Connecticut and the rest of the nation rebuild its aging industrial base and infrastructure. She urged the committee and Congress to up funding for “brownfields remediation’’ — rehabilitating decrepit and toxic industrial sites in places like Bridgeport.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security investigations of cyber attacks on the nation's critical manufacturing sector nearly doubled in the year ended Sept. 30, according to the agency. The Department of Homeland Security's Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity Emergency Response Team, or ICS-CERT, said in a report distributed this week that it investigated 97 incidents at critical manufacturers during its most-recent fiscal year.
The biggest news at this year's auto show is not about the autos at all - it's what manufacturers are planning to put in them. "Every automaker here at the show is launching some form of cool technology inside the vehicles, whether it's adaptive cruise control or Smart Stop Technology, or even utilizing 3-D printing to print out and create the interior of your vehicle," said Michael Caudill, a U.S. automotive expert.
It has been a tough year for companies selling technology equipment to American manufacturing companies. For the 10 months ending in October, orders for manufacturing technology equipment fell by 17.4 percent compared to the same period in 2014, according to AMT - The Association for Manufacturing Technology. It doesn’t look like things will turn around for a while.
‘When I look at DuPont and Dow I see businesses that fit together like hand and glove,’ said Edward Breen, chairman and chief executive of DuPont, ‘which gives us the ability to create three highly focused companies, because of the combined assets, capabilities and scales.’ The merger is expected to deliver $3 billion in cost savings through synergies and save $1billion in growth synergies. Ten percent of the cost savings will come from R&D. The merger follows depressed commodity prices and a rising US dollar, which has hurt Dow and DuPont.