September 20, 2021
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Trends & Technology
Aircraft-engine maker Pratt & Whitney's digital transformation was incremental and required agility, with low-code solutions such as WEBCON helping the company become more quick and efficient, says Jocelyn Brule of Pratt & Whitney. "With the deep toolbox provided by the framework, we are able to achieve a lot more of those complex requirements without any coding," Brule says.
Full Story: IndustryWeek (9/20) 
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Brooks Automation has agreed to sell its semiconductor automation unit to private equity group Thomas H. Lee Partners for $3 billion instead of spinning out the business. The unit provides manufacturers with automated solutions.
Full Story: Reuters (9/20) 
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Mercedes is optimistic about its electric vehicle launch despite working through many of the same supply chain issues that other automakers are facing. "We say, 'Now electric has its Mercedes,' because so far the options for EVs -- especially on the top end of the market -- have been very limited," says Mercedes-Benz USA chief Dimitris Psillakis.
Full Story: Chief Executive (9/15) 
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The world's first 3D-printed car is just one of the advanced manufacturing technologies that the Energy Department's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has explored under the leadership of Lonnie Love, an ASME fellow. In an ASME TechCast, Love discusses what's next on the agenda, including 3D printing on a very large scale for a wide variety of industries.
Full Story: ASME (9/20) 
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Supply Chain
General Motors is getting more involved in its semiconductor sourcing, including direct relationships with chipmakers, says CEO Mary Barra. "It's a solvable problem, but it's going to be here a little longer," Barra says.
Full Story: BNN Bloomberg (Canada) (9/17),  Reuters (9/17) 
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Safety
Hyundai and Boston Dynamics have created a factory robot that can conduct safety inspections using thermal cameras and lidar sensors and operate via remote control or autonomously. Hyundai plans to continue working with Boston Dynamics "to create smart services that detect dangers at industrial sites and help support a safe work environment," says Dong Jin Hyun of Hyundai.
Full Story: TechCrunch (tiered subscription model) (9/17) 
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Sustainability
Strong demand from airlines coupled with prospects for a supportive policy environment is prompting US refiners to consider including sustainable aviation fuel in their plans for renewable diesel production. However, government subsidies for SAF production will need to be higher than those for renewable diesel to encourage investments by refiners, according to Turner, Mason & Company analyst Robert Auers.
Full Story: S&P Global (9/16) 
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Workforce of Tomorrow
The pandemic has led more Generation Z workers consider a manufacturing career, and what motivates them is feeling fulfilled, happy and appreciated, says Parsable CEO Lawrence Whittle. "You just need to change a little bit why they've come to work, things like reskilling, upskilling, feeling that they're part of a very ESG-friendly type of organization on top of salaries and on top of benefits," Whittle says.
Full Story: Plant Services online (9/16) 
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NAM News
Monday Economic Report
(NAM)
Manufacturing production slowed significantly in August, edging up 0.1% for the month after rising by 1.6% in July. Much like the larger economy, manufacturing production has softened likely due to supply chain disruptions, workforce shortages and rising raw material costs. Still, manufacturing production has increased 5.9% over the past 12 months, or 3.2% year to date, with output in the sector the strongest since January 2019. Similarly, manufacturing capacity utilization edged up from 76.6% in July to 76.7% in August, also the best reading since January 2019. Looking at annual average growth rates, I would expect that manufacturing production will have risen by 6.8% in 2021, with 4.2% growth in 2022. Read more.
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The Manufacturing Institute is accepting nominations for the 2022 STEP Ahead Awards, which will recognize 100 distinguished women leaders and 30 rising female stars in the manufacturing industry. Now entering its 10th year, the STEP Ahead Awards have celebrated and elevated more than 1,100 women who have made significant contributions to their companies, communities and the next generation of female manufacturers. We encourage you to work with your company to nominate your female colleagues and peers who exemplify leadership and mentorship. View our nomination guide for more details on eligibility, selection process and key dates, and submit your nominations here before the Oct. 1 deadline.
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