May 3, 2021
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Trends & Technology
The Institute for Supply Management's index for manufacturing activity in the US dropped to 60.7 in April from 64.7 in March. ISM readings of prices paid by manufacturers hit a nearly 13-year high, while forward-looking new orders and manufacturing employment subindexes declined from March.
Full Story: Reuters (5/3) 
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Astra is cutting production costs by constructing fairings -- the rocket's nosecone -- from a combination of aluminum tubes and metal petals instead of carbon fiber. Astra is also reducing costs by stamping instead of riveting.
Full Story: CNBC (5/2) 
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Barra: Training is important to GM's EV push
Barra (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
For General Motors to meet its goal of introducing 30 electric vehicle models by mid-decade and eliminate internal combustion engines by 2035, the automaker needs to make sure employees understand the plan and learn the skills required, says CEO Mary Barra. "We have regular training programs to make sure they know the new technology coming into the vehicle, whether it's the propulsion system moving to electric or all of the connectivity we have," Barra says.
Full Story: TIME (tiered subscription model) (4/27) 
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LyondellBasell Industries reported a net income of $1.07 billion in its fiscal first quarter and "is emerging stronger from the pandemic and the associated global recession," said CEO Bob Patel. "With no significant planned maintenance for our assets during the second quarter, we plan to operate at nearly full capacity worldwide to meet robust demand that is expected to persist due to low inventories and maintenance downtime across our industry," said Patel.
Full Story: S&P Global (4/30),  Plastics News (tiered subscription model) (4/30) 
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Cybersecurity
Operational technology systems and internet of things devices can be infiltrated via any of 25 remote code execution vulnerabilities, researchers from Microsoft have found. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has shared mitigation practices for vulnerable devices, including implementing vendor updates and limiting network exposure.
Full Story: BleepingComputer (4/29),  Dark Reading (free registration) (4/29) 
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Supply Chain
Steel prices continue to rise but demand has mostly persisted, with just 6% of respondents to a recent Steel Market Update poll noting lower demand. Most steel buyers aren't expecting prices to level out anytime soon, as nearly 80% say they see no signs of an upcoming drop in price levels.
Full Story: The Fabricator online (4/30) 
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Industrial IoT
The Ford Transmission Plant in Livonia, Mich., deploys robots equipped with artificial intelligence to put together torque converters. The AI helps the robots learn how to assemble the converters more efficiently, and Lon Van Geloven, production manager, said Ford is looking at other areas to use the technology from Symbio Robotics.
Full Story: Wired (tiered subscription model) (4/28) 
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Workforce of Tomorrow
Manufacturing shops should be trying to improve their processes and technology, but these efforts can sometimes get out of control, leaving workers stressed and overloaded while decreasing productivity in the short run. Clear project charters and the use of smaller incremental improvements for larger projects can help prevent this problem, Jeff Sipes writes.
Full Story: The Fabricator online (4/29) 
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NAM News
How did Generac, manufacturer of power generation products for residential, commercial and industrial markets, respond to unpredictable spikes in demand as a result of the pandemic in 2020? From a supply chain perspective, does there have to be a trade-off between resiliency and productivity, or can manufacturers achieve both? Join the discussion tomorrow, May 4, at 11:30 a.m. ET. Register here.
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Monday Economic Report
(NAM)
Personal income soared 21.1% in March, buoyed largely by stimulus checks, the largest monthly increase in the history of the series, which dates to January 1959. Total wages and salaries increased 1.1% in March, or 1.9% in the first quarter overall. Aggregated manufacturing wages and salaries rose 1.4% in March but remained 1.1% lower than before the pandemic. Personal consumption expenditures increased 4.2% in March, bouncing back from the 1.0% decline in February and the largest monthly increase since June 2020. Durable and nondurable goods purchases jumped 10.8% and 6.5%, respectively, with service-sector spending up 2.2%. Read more.
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There is but one Earth, tiny and fragile, and one must get 100,000 miles away to appreciate fully one's good fortune in living on it.
Michael Collins,
NASA astronaut, command module pilot for the Apollo 11 mission to the moon
1930-2021
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