April 19, 2021
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Trends & Technology
TuSimple, which went public last week, announced plans to test its self-driving trucks on Arizona roads during the fourth quarter without a backup driver on board. TuSimple's vehicle handles regular conditions well, and what remains "is how does the truck react to somebody on the road not doing what they're supposed to do?" says Chief Administrative Officer Jim Mullen.
Full Story: Fleet Owner (4/19),  The Wall Street Journal (4/15) 
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Fabricators shouldn't feel they have to choose between lean manufacturing tools or advanced technology and automation, as they each can help improve operations and reduce dependence on labor. This article examines how lean and technology work together while advising on how to make smart tech investments.
Full Story: The Fabricator online (4/15) 
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Kent Corp., based in Muscatine, Iowa, was named for the second consecutive year to a Deloitte-Wall Street Journal list of best-run private companies with at least $250 million in revenue. "I really think, in the light of last year's pandemic specifically, it was really a reflection of our resiliency and consistency during that really turbulent year," says company representative Carol Reynolds.
Full Story: Muscatine Journal (Iowa) (4/15) 
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The worldwide automotive industry is making a transition to emphasizing production of electric vehicles, yet the status of EV battery technology could be a limiting factor, this analysis notes. "In a conservative scenario, we expect lithium-ion battery demand to increase at least tenfold between 2020 and 2030," said Logan Goldie-Scot of BloombergNEF.
Full Story: National Public Radio (4/15) 
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Supply Chain
Farm equipment makers including AGCO, Deere & Co. and CNH Industrial are grappling with surging demand, supply chain disruptions and a pandemic-driven labor shortage among some suppliers. "It's our number one challenge right now by far -- managing all the logistics and the volatility in the system," AGCO CEO Eric Hansotia says.
Full Story: Reuters (4/19) 
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Industrial IoT
Pilot-scale industrial internet of things projects don't always succeed, but manufacturers can still identify areas ripe for change, understand how internal communication can be improved and learn other lessons, writes Martin Keenan, technical director for Avnet Abacus.
Full Story: IndustryWeek (4/15) 
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General Mills is the first consumer packaged goods company in the US to establish a revolving line of credit with financial partners that is linked to the progress it makes with sustainability initiatives. "Integrating General Mills' environmental impact metrics into this financing structure underscores our commitment to drive resilience for the planet, its resources and its people," said Kofi Bruce, General Mills' chief financial officer.
Full Story: Food Business News (free registration) (4/16),  CPG Specialist (4/16) 
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Workforce of Tomorrow
The York County Manufacturers Association in Pennsylvania is launching a new robotic apprenticeship program. Officials say the program will prepare students for in-demand jobs in a growing industry.
Full Story: WHP-TV (Harrisburg, Pa.) (4/16) 
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NAM News
Monday Economic Report
Fueled by stimulus payments and pent-up demand, consumer spending at retailers jumped 9.8% in March, the largest monthly gain in 10 months. Excluding gasoline and motor vehicle sales, retail spending rose 8.2% in March. More than anything, the data speak to the increased willingness of Americans to leave their homes -- thanks to increased vaccination rates--and to spend much of the additional dollars in their pockets from stimulus checks. That growth should be largely sustained in the coming months, with the U.S. economy expected to continue rebounding very strongly. Read more.
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It is so easy to exist instead of live. Unless you know there is a clock ticking.
Anna Quindlen,
writer, journalist, columnist
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