Dallas-Servo-Feed

New Capital Investments at Pentaflex

Here at Pentaflex we recognize the need to continuously invest in our facility and equipment in order to provide our customers with the very best quality product.  Recently we installed this new state of the art Dallas Servo Feedline on our 880 ton Aida press. This new feedline will handle material as thin as .030, and as thick as .312. It can accommodate a maximum coil width of 48”.  By investing in this new servo feedline we will be able to fully maximize the performance capabilities of 880 ton Aida press. Please contact our sales team if you have an application that you would like for us to review on this, or any of our other servo press lines.

The State of the Trucking Industry Today and Looking Forward

Despite several challenges, 2018 was a strong year for the American trucking industry. Increased consumer spending greatly boosted shipping demand, resulting in driver shortages as trucking companies rushed to fill orders. With new trade deals and industry initiatives to support growth, we predict a successful year ahead for the trucking industry.

Current State of the Trucking Industry

The strong U.S. economy has resulted in a consumer spending boom. This brought about greater demand for trucks to transport consumer goods. The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts that holiday sales will reach approximately $720.89 billion in 2018, a 4.3-4.8% increase compared with the 2017 holiday season.

However, this increased demand has led to some challenges for the trucking industry. The influx of new orders has strained trucking’s workforce as shipping companies struggle to meet demand. Additionally, the implementation of the electronic logging device (ELD) rule mandated that all trucks should install tracking devices to better account for shipment status. While this has helped create greater transparency and safer working conditions, it also further limited the amount of truckers allowed on the road, as drivers without an ELD cannot commercially drive.

Amazon, FedEx, and other major companies have aimed to combat the driver shortage and maintain efficient operations by hiring thousands of temporary workers for the 2018–2019 holiday season.

On November 30th, representatives from the U.S., Mexico, and Canada officially signed the new United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), replacing the original NAFTA terms. If the new deal is successfully passed through Congress, we expect to see greater wage growth for American truckers.

Yet despite the benefits to continued free trade between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, Congress may seek to impose caps on cross-border trucking, which may reduce trucking demand. There is also a chance that Congress may require vehicles produced in the U.S. to be composed of at least 75% North American–made parts, driving up costs for new trucks and vehicle maintenance.

The Trucking Industry in 2019 and Beyond

We expect capacity to stay tight with economic growth, with the American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimating that freight volume will increase 2.3% from 2019 to 2024.

ATA Chief Executive Chris Spear aims to address the American trucking industry’s challenges while supporting its continued growth. Spear seeks to make training the younger generation of drivers a top priority moving forward, in hopes of adding numbers to the workforce as demand for truckers continues to grow. The ATA is also researching new methods to increase productivity and implement better safety technology while working to offset tariffs and additional regulations affecting the trucking industry.

The ATA projects that for the next 18 months, the trucking industry will benefit from a strong economic climate. The trucking industry could see an estimated $6.6 billion of new revenue each year if Congress approves the USMCA deal.

The industry experienced the sharpest growth in demand for trucks of the heaviest Class 8 weight segment. The ATA estimates that trucking manufacturers will fill around 305,000 orders for Class 8 trucks in 2019, a 19% increase compared with 2017.

Prep for the Future with Pentaflex!

With continued high demand, we expect 2019 to be a strong year for the trucking industry.

To help in the design of new trucks and maintain the existing fleet, Pentaflex provides a complete range of metal stampings and value-added services, including machining, welding, part washing, and assembly. We also provide components for successful trucking operations, including emissions and axle/brake components.

Our facilities are fully equipped to help your trucking company excel, and our talented staff will continue to deliver high-quality products to our customers.

To learn more about our services and capabilities for the trucking industry, contact us today.

Impacts of the New United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement on Automotive Manufacturers

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Mexico, and Canada was officially renegotiated at the end of September, and became what is now the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. With the ability for U.S. companies to operate in Canada and Mexico free of tariffs preserved for now, the new agreement updates 24-year-old terms to include a heavy focus on the automotive industry, as well as agriculture, the digital economy, and labor unions.

The updated trade agreement terms have the potential to highly impact the automotive industry. New stipulations require a higher percentage of an automobile’s content to be produced in NAFTA regions and a minimum of $16 per hour paid to workers. The deal’s sunset clause details that the agreement will be in place for 16 years and is to be reviewed every six years.

In this post, we will describe some of the agreement’s terms and what they will mean for automotive manufacturers if the measure receives Congressional approval and goes into effect.

What’s Included in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement?

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement includes new terms affecting how much of an automobile is to be produced in NAFTA regions. Original NAFTA terms required 62.5 percent of an automobile’s components to be produced in relevant regions for manufacturers to gain the zero-tariff benefit. New terms in the trade deal increase that requirement: 75 percent of an automobile’s composition is to be fabricated in NAFTA regions.

Canada’s participation in this trade deal was in question until September 30th, when the United States’ northern neighbor finally reached an agreement with the terms. There had been threats previously that Canada would be excluded from the new deal, which would have presented a negative impact for automotive manufacturers relying on Canadian-made components and materials.

What the Terms Mean for U.S. Automotive Manufacturers

With new terms requiring 75 percent of an automobile’s contents to be produced in the U.S., Mexico, or Canada, NAFTA regions will receive an influx of manufacturing work for automobile components. This increased production could bring new jobs to the automotive manufacturing industry.

Using local materials, including aluminum and steel, benefits labor unions and protects many high-paying jobs currently located in the U.S. Additionally, the United States would have the ability to impose tariffs if the 75 percent threshold is not reached.

It’s also good for the automotive sector that Canada has maintained its partnership within the agreement. Given that numerous automotive companies in the United States rely on Canadian materials and components for automobile production, higher prices would have been an undesirable consequence as foreign automakers may have benefited from American companies’ decreased competitive advantage.

Stay Tuned

While the terms of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement affect businesses in a variety of industries, the automotive sector will experience one of the largest impacts. As the deal moves closer to approval and implementation, Pentaflex is committed to providing the information you need to stay up-to-date.

We consider ourselves a direct stakeholder in this deal due to our close involvement with clients in the automotive supply base— many of those based in Mexico. As a leader in the U.S. metal forming industry, Pentaflex will continue to track trade deal deliberations surrounding the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

To learn more about what the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement means for your business or to learn about our products and services, contact us today.

Strategies to Engage Your Manufacturing Workforce

Manufacturers are struggling with a growing skills gap. Over the coming decade, the industry could see as many as two million jobs could emerge that can’t be filled by the current labor pool.

In the face of such challenges, it’s become more important than ever to improve employee retention in the manufacturing industry. Fortunately, recent approaches in talent recruitment could help manufacturers find the workers they need to ensure their continued success.

How to Attract Manufacturing Talent

Many younger workers mistakenly regard manufacturing as a field for the unskilled or uneducated. Dispelling these opinions is a necessary step in lessening the growing skills gap. The following measures can help you educate prospective employees about your company while giving you an opportunity to discover young talent that will add value throughout your company.

  • Attend local job fairs

Meeting and talking with young professionals can generate leads, raise awareness of the benefits of a career in manufacturing, and introduce possible candidates to your company’s current opportunities.

  • Host open houses

By opening up your facilities to prospective employees, you can expose them to your operations, working environment, and company culture, as well as the types of benefits and compensation you provide. Transparent hiring processes always leads to increased retention in the future.

  • Partner with local schools at all levels, including trade schools and public schools

Partnering with schools will undoubtedly attract more talent to your company. Trade schools in particular might prepare their students for your specific work, which only simplifies onboarding for your company.

Improving Employee Retention in Manufacturing

Since it’s more expensive to assemble a team of trained workers than it is to keep current employees, a high retention rate can make all the difference between success and failure. The following steps can help you minimize turnover throughout your company.

  • Work Community

Host BBQs and other seasonal events to promote team building. When employees feel as though they belong, their jobs will matter more to them.

  • Fun with Competitions

Create competitions between staff and families to get everyone involved. When an employee’s family likes their employer, you’re much more likely to keep him or her for the long term.

  • Giveaways

Give prizes to celebrate achieved goals or significant milestones. This not only raises productivity, but it promotes competition and boosts the moral of the company.

  • Competitive pay, training opportunities, and benefits

Continued learning through training can stimulate employees and keep them connected to your company. Similarly, competitive pay and good benefits only lowers the risk of turnover.

Consistency is essential to manufacturing, but in order to achieve it, manufacturers require an experienced workforce with the training and preparation needed to operate complex industrial equipment. An engaged team and a modern recruiting strategy can help you ensure that your company is never understaffed.

At Pentaflex, we constantly work to improve our company to better meet the needs of our clients and employees alike. As the manufacturing period approaches a period of transition, we’re doing whatever we can to reward our current employees and persuade the next generation of American workers that a career in manufacturing might be the most rewarding path they can take. If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of working with an engaged manufacturing company, contact us today.

 

What the Steel Tariffs Mean for U.S. Metal Forming Businesses

In recent weeks, the United States implemented new tariffs on steel and aluminum to promote a policy of “America First.” The theory is that increasing import taxes on foreign steel and aluminum encourages U.S. companies to use U.S.-supplied steel and aluminum boosting production capacity toward a goal of 80% capacity utilization.   Increased usage of American steel should drive more jobs for US steel and aluminum manufacturers and less business for competing suppliers in other markets, such as Europe and China.

What the Tariffs Mean for U.S. Industry and Consumers

While these steel tariffs were put in place to put American suppliers at an advantage, many drawbacks are now occurring that are affecting manufacturers and consumers alike.  The Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users has said that companies that make products using steel and aluminum employ more than 6.5 million workers across the country compared to 80,000 workers at steel plants.  Any company that uses the materials will be faced with higher production costs. A report published in June shows that US steel is at the highest point in 16 years at $982 per ton and the widest price differential compared to $644 in Western Europe and $566 in China.

When manufacturers face increased steel costs, they must offset the added expenses incurred in other ways, which has the following effects:

  1. U.S. consumers will pay an increased cost for products containing steel, such as cars and appliances.
  1. U.S. manufacturers cannot pass on the increased cost to their customers. Higher tariffs lead to smaller profits, unless manufacturers are able to obtain steel from domestic suppliers at pre-tariff costs.
  1. With domestic steel at a premium, American steel suppliers may continue to increase their prices, though they will likely keep it just below the combined cost of foreign steel and its tariffs.

In typical supply-and-demand fashion, the limited supply of steel within the U.S. has already caused the price to go up. Since April of 2018, the price of steel has increased almost 26%.

This makes U.S. manufacturers that rely on steel far less competitive, and leaves some worrying for the future of their businesses. Rather than face intense profit losses on U.S. soil due to the increased material costs, some manufacturers are already outsourcing some operations to China instead, where they can use cheap Chinese steel tariff-free.

Learn More

The effects of the new U.S. steel tariffs are widespread, touching aspects of the entire economy. But nothing has been more impacted by it than the manufacturing sector. Even if the results from the tariffs are good for domestic suppliers of steel, many other businesses that use the steel are feeling the pressure as they are negatively affected by the rising prices.

As a U.S.-based metal stamping company and a metal forming leader, Pentaflex continues to be on alert and up-to-date with information regarding this rapidly changing situation.

For more information about the recent tariffs, or to learn about our products and services, please contact us.

Forming Our Future – Things to Look Forward to in Metalforming

Forming Our Future

This past spring, Pentaflex took part in the latest installment of Forming Our Future: Leadership Conference and the PMA Annual Meeting from March 7-10. This is a major event not only for our industry, but for Pentaflex in particular. In addition to our sponsorship of the event, our President, Dave Arndt took a lead role as Chairman of the Board for PMA.

The event brought together metalforming executives and offered a chance to explore emerging trends and learn new skills. Topics such as the skills gap, government regulations, and managing changing the marketplace were all discussed. Conferences such as this allow companies to share what has worked for them, while learning about new techniques and opportunities to help their businesses thrive and grow.

Automotive Parts Suppliers Conference

The following month, Pentaflex hit the road again to take part in the 25th Annual Automotive Parts Suppliers Conference from April 25-26, 2018.

The event featured educational sessions, networking opportunities, and discussions related to the current outlook for the automotive industry. Attendees learned about new advancements in this sector and how they can apply these trends to their businesses.

Because this was a milestone 25th anniversary for the event, there was an additional networking cocktail reception, hosted at the Detroit Athletic Club.

Pentaflex President and PMA Chairman Dave Arndt delivered Welcoming Remarks, and leaders from manufacturing shops and well-known publications discussed issues such as NAFTA updates, lightweighting trends, modern quality control methods, and more.

Why the Events Are Vital to Our Industry

Taking part in industry events benefits companies in a number of ways; first and foremost, they help business leaders stay informed. There are so many advancements coming out every year that it would be near impossible to keep track of everything while continuing to run your business as usual. These events bring together subject matter experts who can discuss current trends and provide helpful insights. They also encourage networking with peers to build connections that may grow your business down the road.

Pentaflex is committed to helping companies in the automotive sector stay competitive in the changing supply landscape. Be sure to look for us at the next PMA event, or reach out directly for more information.

Making Manufacturing Day Count

While the entire month of October is designated as Manufacturing Month, each year there is one day set aside to focus on this sector. On Friday, October 6th, Pentaflex celebrated Manufacturing Day by hosting 180 middle and high school students.

STEM students in shop tour

Students learn about manufacturing processes

The children came from our local Career Technology Center and our new STEM school, so they already had a good grasp on technical concepts and the manufacturing sector overall. We invited them to tour our facility, walking them through each stage of the business, from assembly to delivery.

While these students are fortunate to have access to a STEM-focused curriculum, being able to see how things work up close offers a whole new perspective. More than ever, as we face a shortage of skilled workers who are interested in pursuing industrial careers, it’s important that we expose children to hands-on careers.

This introduction to the shop floor shows students the many opportunities open to them within the manufacturing sector. There are so many high-tech options available now thanks to advancements in AI and robotics, making it an exciting time to join this growing field.

As a metal stamper for complex components, we understand the value that manufacturing brings to the United States economy. Through our Manufacturing Day activities and other community efforts, we aim to share this knowledge with the general public whenever possible. We are pleased to work with local schools to boost manufacturing exposure and inform young people about the many exciting career options available to them once they graduate.

Encouraging Women in STEM Through Manufacturing Internships

In recent years, there has been an overall decline in the number of people entering manufacturing, although there is an increase in manufacturing jobs.

With a decline in skilled workers entering the market, companies are having to find ways to attract good talent. One way Pentaflex is doing this is by hiring and training interns. Not only can students get valuable experience working on the job, they can also get a better understanding of the many opportunities available to them.

Female Manufacturing Intern

Intern Claire Lavoie standing with Director of Quality Jim Zerkle

This summer, we worked with Claire Lavoie, an intern from Ohio State University. After completing her freshman year she joined us to experience all aspects of the shop floor.

Claire worked in our Stamping Department, the Assembly Department, and in Quality Control. Near the end of her time with us, she was assigned several projects to work on which involved data gathering and analysis. Claire led a team through a problem solving exercise which resulted in her assisting in the design of a gauge to be used in the Stamping Department. This new gauge will ensure better quality for parts used in an automated assembly process.

Apprenticeships are the perfect way for companies to find quality workers and to increase gender diversity in the workforce by reaching out to women. Historically, manufacturing has been a male-dominated industry, but with more women entering the STEM fields, companies may have a better time closing the skills gap.

Attracting younger people is key to manufacturing. Getting the word out that manufacturing is no longer what it used to be means letting young adults explore the many career paths manufacturing offers.

To learn more about our career openings and hiring efforts, please call us at 937-325-5551. We look forward to hearing from you!

Filling the Trucking Talent Gap with Autonomous Vehicles

There are 1.7 million truck drivers in the country. But more are needed!

From retail and ecommerce deliveries, to garbage collection, to even manoeuvring difficult terrains like underground mines, almost every aspect of civilized life requires powerful big-rigs to come to the rescue.

The Trucking Talent Gap

Unfortunately, trucking has developed an image that is turning away the next generation of workers and value driven Millennials from a career in this crucial field.

The list of complaints is long, and for-hire truckers have it rough. They must contend with issues like unavoidable traffic, long hours on the road with few rest areas, and less time at home with their families.

This has led to a talent gap in the trucking sector, with many jobs going unfilled. While many firms have been offering sign-on bonuses and other incentives to drive hiring efforts, the number of applicants is still falling short.

Autonomous Technology to the Rescue

To fill the gap, self-driving technology is being explored for trucking fleets. While autonomous passenger cars have been getting a lot of attention, autonomous trucks have already been hitting the road to research their capabilities. Embark, Amazon, Daimler and the automotive stalwarts are all toeing the same line.

Currently, the self-driving technology is being tested alongside human drivers to ensure safety. Autonomous trucking will in most cases identify obstacles that dozing eyes miss, provide long haul relief to exhausted drivers and improve the quality of their lives. It is in no way ready to completely replace human drivers.

Most prototypes that have seen road action come heavily equipped with sensors and cameras that can masterfully handle darkness, glare, fog and natural hurdles. Added benefits of running on electricity and constant relay of performance feedback for fuel optimization are also in the works.

All in all, companies are eager to invest in trucking and return the sector to its former strength. This time with the help of technology.

Pentaflex has been the supplier of choice for customers who require complex, heavy gauge deep drawn components and sub-assemblies for their big-rigs and trucks. We believe that the disruption on the horizon is one that will positively impact trucking and the many industries served by this sector.

MEMA Comments on Proposed Changes to NAFTA

The new US administration has brought with it a number of proposed changes. One of these changes involves updating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

As the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) represents 1,000 vehicle and component manufacturers and suppliers, the organization aims to educate policy makers on the current role of NAFTA in the supply chain.

According to MEMA, the vehicle manufacturing sector is the largest of the US industrial segment, employing more than 871,000 Americans directly. When factoring indirect and supporting jobs, the number rises to 4.26 million jobs supported by motor vehicle parts manufacturing.

This is a major factor to consider when reorganizing trade deals and strategies. For this reason, MEMA has submitted comments to the US trade representative highlighting the benefits NAFTA has had in the development and growth of North American motor vehicle supply chains.

Currently, suppliers in this segment depend on an international network of vendors and customers to maintain their competitive edge. Even within individual companies, there are often multiple plants located in each of the NAFTA countries. This freedom of trade and commerce has allowed US manufacturers to thrive, which has led to increased employment and productivity within the US.

This is an exciting time for the vehicle design and manufacturing sector, as researchers continue to innovate with new processes and technologies. Autonomous vehicles aren’t the only advancement – though strides are being made in this area – collision avoidance systems, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, fuel efficiency and alternative fuels are all important developments that rely on strong economic support. Keeping costs low by working with other nations allows US manufacturers to invest more heavily in these high-tech improvements.

The role of MEMA is to foster growth among vehicle manufacturers, and NAFTA has been an integral component of this mission. While the Association supports efforts to strengthen US manufacturing, they want to be sure that all sides are well considered before action is taken. This is a delicate proceeding that could potentially impact millions of workers. As Pentaflex is a manufacturer of heavy vehicle components, we are monitoring this topic to see how everything plays out.

Would changes to NAFTA impact your business? Feel free to discuss this topic with us on Twitter. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.