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Suppliers changing how, where they make parts in EV eraThe supply chain is in for a major overhaul as longtime suppliers look to maintain their positions in the EV era.Nashville — A host of startups and newcomers to the auto industry are shaking up the automotive supply chain, but established companies aren't standing pat.Indeed, the supply chain is in for a major overhaul as longtime suppliers look to maintain their positions in the electric vehicle era, manufacturing executives said during a panel at the Automotive News Congress here.Take, for example, Denso Corp., the world's second-largest auto supplier by annual global sales to automakers. As the supplier giant looks to become "more agile and more flexible" in the EV era, it is investing in 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, to help it to build spare parts and cooling systems, for instance."Materials and manufacturing processes continue to evolve to help us to do things lighter and faster," said Andrew Clemence, Denso International America's electrification business unit leader. "We really believe this is going to unlock a new era of product design because it takes away the constraints that you have with traditional manufacturing today."Likewise, Novelis, a major supplier of aluminum to the auto industry, is developing manufacturing technologies to help provide additional value and uses for automakers, said Jamie Zinser, Novelis vice president of global sales and marketing."We do realize that aluminum is at a disadvantage" to steel when it comes to cost, she said. But she added that the material is going to prove to be "very critical" for automakers as they look to keep EV weights down.Manufacturers are changing not just how they build parts, but also where they make them. For example, South Korean tire maker Hankook Tire entered the U.S. manufacturing space by opening a plant in Clarksville, Tenn., in 2017.Building tires locally for the North American market positions Hankook to benefit as automakers invest billions of dollars in EV production in the region, said Curtis Brison, president of Hankook Tire America Corp."We're investing heavily in electric vehicles," Brison said. "When you look at it from the dynamics of a tire, these vehicles are heavier, there's more power and torque. They're a lot quieter in the interior. We're challenging ourselves to be the very best in that world."Register for the second Automotive News Congress event, June 16 in Washington, D.C., which will cover industry regulation.source : https://www.plasticsnews.com/automotive/suppliers-changing-how-where-they-make-parts-ev-eraedit : handler
Editor 2022-06-24
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Inflation, supply chain kinks keep pressure on auto suppliersInflation and production volatility are squeezing the revenue, income and margins of major automotive suppliers that had been hoping for some relief by now from the financial headwinds of the past two years.Quarterly earnings reports from many of those companies out this week show that those pressures have continued — and in some cases worsened.For example, Southfield-based seating and electronics supplier Lear Corp. said it has cut global headcount by 7,700 in the past year and is looking to restructure its footprint as its first-quarter adjusted net income was sliced in half from last year. Plymouth-based seat maker Adient plc took an $81 million loss, Auburn Hills-based BorgWarner Inc.'s adjusted operating income dropped 16 percent and Southfield-based Superior Industries Inc. saw net income slip by 23 percent.All of them pointed to the same challenges.This story was originally published in Crain's Detroit Business."I've been in the industry 20 years now, and it's worse than I've seen and it is sustaining," Nik Endrud, executive vice president for Forvia North America, told Crain's in an interview. "There's lot of downstream impacts to the stop-and-go concept on everybody, on automakers, too. ... Certainly, we see their profit margins. We know how they're running their business and we see supplier profit margins."Forvia is the new name for the company combining molder Faurecia and lighting supplier Hella.Endrud's point being that automakers have been able to tune their mix around availability of microchips, focus on selling higher-end vehicles, increase sticker prices and turn healthy profits as highlighted in their earnings reports. Suppliers do not have that strategy available."You can't have this massive margin compression and not have distress," said Steven Wybo, senior managing director and restructuring expert at Riveron, a financial consulting firm in Birmingham. "It's keeping their head above water, but you can only do that so long. They do need to be able pass some of this inflation on."Wybo said the financial pressure on suppliers is worse than it was at this point last year, even though the microchip shortage has eased slightly. Sustained inflation and Russia's war on Ukraine have deepened the problems for a supply chain trying to recover.As a result, vehicle production has not bounced back as quickly as many analysts predicted even as demand remains strong with higher vehicle prices.Moody's Investors Service last month revised its growth expectation for global light vehicle sales in 2022 to 3.3 percent, down nearly half from its previous projection of 6.2 percent."The automotive sector environment remains challenging, and the recovery of global light vehicle sales from the 2020 trough is more protracted than Moody's had initially expected," the credit rating researcher said in a report.One key difference from a year ago is that automakers know they have to offer some pricing relief if they want to keep their suppliers afloat and cars coming down the line, said Dan Sharkey, co-founder and member at Brooks Wilkins Sharkey & Turco PLLC in Birmingham who specializes in supply chain litigation."If you're making a little part and it's 10 bucks, and your labor goes up 20 percent, and inflation goes up 8 percent, all the sudden you go to making a little profit, maybe 10 percent, to losing 10 percent," Sharkey said. "You're literally taping money to the box every time you make a part, so you have no choice but to run to your customer and say I got to have a price increase."Sharkey said automakers are coming to the table, albeit "through gritted teeth and under protest," but most are offering lump sum "get well" injections of cash, rather than structural increases. Some automakers are threatening to withhold future contract awards to suppliers asking for increases, Sharkey said."If there hadn't been all this economic relief from customers, we would have had widespread financial failure of suppliers, and the OEMs know that, and that's what they want to avoid," he said.Even automakers with poor reputations for how they treat suppliers, such as Stellantis, understand they must share some of the pain, Sharkey said, but it's not without a fight.Stellantis Chief Operating Officer Mark Stewart said the automaker is working with suppliers through the headwinds."We continue to work on efficiency programs together of how to altogether get the costs out of the operations so everybody can be profitable and everybody can win in this environment," Stewart told reporters after an event this week at a new supplier plant in Detroit.Still, the general approach of the automaker, whose North American headquarters is in Auburn Hills, with suppliers remains hard-line and the mantra is reducing prices."So, we continue to work with the supplier base again to get that cost out," Stewart said. "Consumers can only take a certain level before things become unaffordable. The end customer is who is in mind ... because that's how we all live across our ecosystem."While financial pressure has yet to ease up, suppliers still see the light at the end of the tunnel, said Luke Junk, a Milwaukee-based senior analyst of vehicle technology and mobility at global financial advisory firm Baird.Junk said steel, aluminum and other commodity prices are expected to normalize eventually, as are freight and logistic snarls. That will lead to the more predictable production cadence the automotive industry thrives on."There's definitely going to be relief going forward," Junk said.Until that happens, though, suppliers will have to keep fighting for price increases to protect their business and investors while automakers do the same for theirs by pushing for price downs.Wybo said he would expect to see at least a handful of major supplier bankruptcies or restructurings by the end of the year. Rapidly rising interest rates and the fear of a global recession are also cause for worry."Once we get through the pent-up demand, we have a longer-term issue with demand for vehicles," Wybo added.source : https://www.plasticsnews.com/news/inflation-supply-chain-kinks-keep-pressure-auto-suppliersedit : handler
Editor 2022-05-16
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Supply chain crisis shifts power balance between automakers, suppliersA brutal year for automotive suppliers has had an unexpected upside.The same problems that have pummeled their business, from soaring commodity costs to supply chain issues, have also given them a newfound power at the negotiating table with their automaker customers.While automakers have maximized on a surge in demand by converting low vehicle inventory into record sticker prices and strong profits, suppliers have suffered the brunt of financial losses. But, the supply chain crisis has laid bare the interdependency of each tier from top to bottom and underscored the importance of players big and small.Suppliers have arguably never had as much negotiating power with automakers, experts say. Now they are using that leverage to change the way they do business with OEMs, which are feeling the pressure to acquiesce if they want to keep getting parts to make cars, according to industry executives and observers."Historically, the automakers have had an enormous amount of leverage and have exerted it over the supply base," said Thomas Walters, commercial litigator at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP who represents tier one, tier two and medium-size suppliers. "I think the OEMs are in a position where they have no choice but to share in the pain with everybody else that's in the same circumstance."Push to share the painAutomakers have been reluctant to absorb the increased cost of parts, but over the past few months, suppliers have been turning up the call for relief. Companies including Cooper Standard Automotive Inc. have been asking customers to renegotiate contracts to recoup losses. Further down the supply chain, those requests have turned to demands as the supply crisis drags on and smaller companies fight to survive.Prices for raw materials in the broader manufacturing sector increased 14.5 percent since the end of 2020, according to the Institute for Supply Management's Semiannual Economic Forecast, released this month. Prices are expected to increase 8.1 percent next year.Companies have had some success in passing along those increases to customers, as indicated by the trade association's survey of about 900 industry members. Around 64 percent of manufacturing executives said they have been able to pass through price increases. Just less than half said they expect business conditions to improve next year.Most contracts between automakers and suppliers are for the production life of a part, which can range from a few years to 10 years or more. Many deals were signed well before the COVID-19 pandemic began and the ensuing supply crisis. The general rule has been to supply the customer at all cost — unless the cost is financial ruin."You've got these insanely exorbitant increases on one end of the supply chain. On the other end of the supply chain, you have the automakers charging higher prices. In the middle you have all the suppliers," said Dan Sharkey, co-founder and member at Brooks Wilkins Sharkey & Turco PLLC who specializes in supply chain litigation.Unexpected production suspensions, from Ford Motor Co.'s F-150 and Explorer to the Stellantis Jeep Cherokee, have taken big bites out of suppliers' revenue.Capacity utilization for light duty automobiles in North America has fallen steadily and then stagnated since the second half of 2020 when plants were brought back on line after COVID-19 shutdowns. Capacity utilization was just above 60 percent in the third quarter of this year, compared with nearly 80 percent at the same period last year, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis."The smaller companies tend to be more nimble and more aggressive because they have less to lose, right — the ma and pa's saying, 'Hey, I just lost money last month, and if I don't get a price increase next month, I'm not shipping parts,'" Sharkey said.That resembles the language of dozens of letters sent recently to Livonia-based AlphaUSA, which supplies fastener assemblies and stampings to major automakers and has been outspoken about the unprecedented rise of steel prices. Nearly all of AlphaUSA's suppliers have given the company an ultimatum: Pay more or stop receiving material, said David Lawrence, executive vice president and chief administrative officer for the company.AlphaUSA's only choice is to pay the increase, Lawrence said."That's their method of survival," he said of smaller suppliers. "They are going to have to demand prices to cover their cost. There's no other way for them to survive."In turn, AlphaUSA is looking to pass those costs up the supply chain to mitigate its losses. "Tough luck" was the response from customers initially, but the tone has begun to change."Our customers have reluctantly started to talk to us," Lawrence said. "At this point, we have no customers standing their ground, but we have no customers that have come up with a solution yet."New territoryThe supply chain friction has kept Sharkey and Walters and others like them plenty busy. As it happens, the business of supply chain litigation has never been better.In Sharkey's nearly three decades of work in the field, he said he has never handled so many commercial disputes at once, not even in the 2008-09 financial crisis. Walters, who's been in the business for around the same length of time, said he doesn't see the situation improving anytime soon."I would say that this is definitely new territory," Walters said. "It's certainly fair to say that many suppliers have been financially stressed and may not last through this pandemic and global supply chain catastrophe."One of them is Battle Creek-based Stewart Industries LLC, a 20-year-old, minority-owned company that supplies assemblies to the automotive industry, including major customer Denso Corp. Just before Thanksgiving, Stewart Industries sent an email to clients informing them that the business would be closing and parts would stop shipping."Today, we are not ashamed to be deeply emotional as we write to inform you that Stewart Industries LLC, being burdened with a historic financial crisis, is discontinuing our business," said the letter obtained by Crain's Detroit Business, signed by CEO Joseph Stewart and President Erick Stewart.The company could not be reached for comment. Denso, through a spokesman, declined to comment.There will likely be more suppliers that will succumb to financial troubles, as industry analysts predict the gummed-up supply chain and microchip famine will persist at least into the first half of next year. Losing a supplier unexpectedly is a headache for purchasing departments in normal times — amid a supply crisis, it could be a major blow."There are lessons to be learned from the '08-'09 situation and the decimation of the supply base that resulted because of that, and I think OEMs are looking at this particular situation differently as a result," Walters said.All in this togetherBoth Walters and Sharkey said they have also never seen automakers so willing to come to the table on deal restructuring that does not favor them. Talks have included potential concessions previously unheard of, including retroactive price increases, acceleration of payment terms, longer-term contracts, raw material price indexes and the general sharing of volatility associated with production costs.Typically, the only shakeup would come from automakers putting pressure on suppliers to cut costs."It's been amazing," Sharkey said. "Some have taken a surprisingly generous view and they've been actually giving price increases. Now, there's no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny, but I've actually been surprised that some of the OEs are actually giving price increases because right now everyone's having trouble getting supply, so they want to be the supplier's favorite customer."The lack of supply chain-related lawsuits also indicates a desire by companies to resolve disputes before litigation. Earlier this year, Stellantis NV supplier JVIS-USA made headlines when it sued NXP Semiconductors, alleging that the chip maker's failure to ship semiconductors would cause a shutdown of the Jeep plant in Detroit. The gush of similar lawsuits predicted by some has not happened.Some OEMs are more willing to renegotiate than others, just as some suppliers have different breaking points before asking customers for concessions. Sharkey and Walters declined to name clients.Stellantis and General Motors Co. declined to make anyone available to interview for this story. Ford did not respond to requests for comment.Automakers keep purchasing strategies close to the vest, but whether and how they decide to help their suppliers absorb costs has an impact on their bottom lines, about which they must answer to investors."Obviously, I'm not going to go into any detail on any conversations that we're having across our supply base, but what I would say is the singular focus is making sure that we have consistency and reduce some of the volatility that we've seen in the supply chain, whether it's due to logistics or semiconductors, etc.," GM CFO Paul Jacobson said during an October call with investors.During a call with investors last month, Toyota executives briefly discussed the topic of price negotiations with suppliers and emphasized the need to accommodate both sides."With regard to relations with suppliers, well, we would like to coexist with our suppliers so that we can reduce cost and enhance the competitiveness together," Kenta Kon, operating officer at Toyota, said during the call. "We would like to enhance competitiveness of suppliers, and we would like to reap the achievements fairly, together."Several big suppliers have echoed the all-in-this-together sentiment. Robert Lee, president of Automotive Technologies Continental North America, told Crain's in a recent interview that the company is having "constructive dialogue" with customers regarding new supply deals."It's not a situation where there's no appetite to entertain any of this type of discussion. It's not like that at all," Lee said. "We're having those discussions, and I would say that we as an industry have to recognize that everyone needs to have value creation and make sure that there is a fair distribution of the value that's coming out of the industry."Being able to pass price increases up the supply chain is a win for suppliers. Not so much for the consumer, who the industry is ultimately counting on to absorb the final cost."The most likely scenario is automakers at least sharing in these costs, and then there's going to be a need [for costs] to be passed on somewhere else," Lawrence said. "Most likely, I think it means significant increases to vehicles' sticker prices."source : https://www.plasticsnews.com/news/supply-chain-crisis-shifts-power-balance-between-automakers-suppliersedit : handler
Editor 2022-02-22
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Automation suppliers help meet demand for COVID-19 testing kitsAs the need for in-home COVID-19 testing balloons because of the highly contagious omicron variant, automation suppliers are responding with technology to help producers keep up with demand.At about one to two parts per second, Lanco Integrated conservatively estimates its seven medical diagnostics manufacturer customers are assembling about 700 million COVID diagnostics tests annually, Kevin Herbig, account manager at Lanco Integrated, told Plastics News.Lanco's existing customers have asked for duplicate machines for diagnostics tests "as soon as they can get it," Herbig said."We've continued to see growth because some of those customers have scaled their production and, like any investment, they're trying to see oversupply," he said.The customers, facing labor shortages, also needed automated processes so their operators wouldn't have to manually process kits at an impossibly fast cycle time.Lanco is also working to offer its customers "flexible" machine investments with additional part types that can diagnose different conditions when the pandemic finally wanes, he said."There will always be a need to test for something," Herbig said. While the products being assembled remain the same, such as lateral flows, membranes and swabs, the core component in the machine will change to allow for new variable data, lot numbers and marketing on the products.The company has also seen an increase in demand for lab automation machines that can "take a sample with a barcode on it, scan it, put into some type of test and get the reading," Herbig said. Manual transmission of information can sometimes be "unreliable," he said, as "people make mistakes."Lanco's Westbrook, Maine, facility is hiring to keep up with high demand for the machines and additional components, he added.The company has been able to avoid some supply chain constraints by making "strategic buys within components we use as standards," Herbig said. "We have the ability to make changes, not only to enter the marketplace but also with what [materials] the supply chain can give us."Since most of its customers are developing new products to market, the end product is typically still in final development phases when Lanco is finalizing the machine, he said. "Since it's a custom piece of equipment, it's easier to give the customers [another] option.""The U.S. federal government plans to distribute 500 million at-home COVID testing devices, and medical device manufacturers are stepping up to meet this significant demand," Vernon Murray, president of Branson assembly and welding at Emerson, said in an emailed statement.Emerson is ramping up production of its ultrasonic and laser welding technologies to meet its customers' demand for assembly of COVID testing devices "as quickly, safely and efficiently as possible," Murray said."Ultrasonic welding is very quick and economic," Didier Perret, medical business development manager at Branson assembly and welding at Emerson, told PN in an interview. "It's able to work with very low force, and in many cases those medical device assembly are delicate."The "housing" portion of an at-home diagnostics test starts as two halves that are welded together, Perret said.Laser welding "is becoming the process of choice," Perret said, to produce microfluidic paths, also used in in-vitro diagnostic systems, human drug-delivery systems or implantable medical devices."A high-growth area in these products are in point-of-care and in-home analyzers," he said.The welding machines also have software to digitalize production data from the shop floor "from the molding machine to the packaging machine, all included in one controller," he said.The software connects "the different steps of production and have an online view of … the process … and what to do in order to avoid producing scrap," Perret added. It also holds fully automated records of standards of production of the medical devices it assembles "removing human error," he said.Emerson's customers are shifting away from using PVC in medical devices, which is used to make tubing and IV bags, masks, breast-pump kits and catheters, over concerns about dioxin and some phthalate plasticizers that are endocrine-disrupting compounds, Perret said.The ultrasonic welding machines will help customers "adapt to new materials," he said, like polyethylene and polypropylene, which "don't have the same processing characteristic."As Emerson has seen what Perret expects is a short-term increase in diagnostics demand, it has also seen a decrease in demand for kidney dialysis product assembly machines."Many people with dialysis, because they are so weak, if they get hit with COVID, they die," he said.Because those customers had less to produce, it was an opportune time to change their production from polycarbonate to alternative materials like polypropylene.Emerson has several of the machines in trial with customers, he said, and some machines already running in full assembly.source : Automation suppliers help meet demand for COVID-19 testing kits | Plastics Newsedit : plastic handler http://www.ihandler.co.kr
Editor 2022-02-22
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PET recycling rates take a pandemic-related punchCOVID-19 impacts are disrupting domestic recycled PET supplies at a time when the market is clamoring for more of the material.PET bottle recycling slipped in 2020 to 26.6 percent in the United States, new numbers just released by the National Association for PET Container Resources show, down from 27.9 percent in 2019.With recycled PET demand soaring and supply falling, that meant the country had to rely on imports from Canada and Mexico to bridge the gap. Demand for the material increased by 10 percent year over year."Obviously, COVID during 2020 had tremendous impact on the closure of redemption centers, the shutdown of curbside collection, all of which certainly has impacted the supply," said Darrel Collier, executive director of NAPCOR. "Unfortunately, that meant we went down in the recycling rate slightly in 2020."The recycling rate tracks the percentage of PET containers that are captured for recycling. In this case, 26.6 percent of those bottles were recovered for recycling in 2020. The numbers can get confusing, but the drop in the recycling rate equates to an overall 2.3 percent decrease in the actual weight of recycled PET recovered in the United States.Collier said he is actually surprised that the amount of recycled PET only fell by 2.3 percent, considering the challenges brought on by the pandemic."I've got to say I was surprised it was as good as it was," he said. "The redemption centers, curbside, were closed a lot more than just 2 percent of the year. I think that's an indication that the demand is so strong that people found a way to continue."PET recycling volumes during different parts of 2020 show that while people were limited in their recycling abilities at certain points during the year, many did stockpile their PET until they were able to recycle the material."It's just an indicator that people are trying to do the right thing," he said.Demand for recycled PET continues to be strong and unabated, as brand owners have publicly committed to increasing their recycled content in packaging. Many have come out with 2025 or 2030 goals seeking to increase recycled content, which is creating a strong market for recycled PET even as prices have risen."The brand houses in the packaging area obviously are living up to some commitments that they have made, their sustainability commitments around content," he said. "That's evidenced by the demand despite the price premium."He said recycled PET is about 20 percent more expensive than virgin material.PET recyclers have increased consumption from about 1 billion pounds in 2010 to about 1.8 billion pounds in 2020, NAPCOR reports."Just like every plastic has its own unique properties that distinguishes itself in whatever packaging process they apply, they all have a little bit different supply-demand scenario in the recycled supply chains," Collier said. "Yes, some plastics do not have enough market demand. That is not the problem with the most recycled plastic in the world, which is PET. We have a supply problem, not a demand problem. I think that's the real message," he said.NAPCOR, in 2020, came out in support of bottle bills as a way to help increase the supply of used PET to recycle. This decision came after years of essentially stagnant recycling rates. While use of PET has grown over the years, the recycling rate has hovered around 30 percent, give or take, in recent years. Until the impact of COVID-19, that is.NAPCOR, which does not lobby, sees more of the same without a fundamental change."States with bottle deposit legislation have significantly higher collection rates than those without. I think brands and other folks are coming around to that if they are not already there. But that's the only way we're going to meet [recycled] PET content commitments we already have," Collier said.PET needs to achieve a recycling rate of 50-55 percent, about double of today's numbers, to satisfy recycled-content commitments made by companies, Collier said."I believe policy has to be a central component to that. That's not in our control. That's in the legislative control. We've had a decade of being at that 30 percent, plus or minus 2. We've essentially had a decade of no change," he said.A total of 10 states currently have deposit legislation and PET recycling rates could increase through more states adopting similar programs, or the potential for national legislation that would create uniform standards.Collier was careful in choosing his words regarding the idea of a national bottle bill, instead directing the conversation to the idea of more states getting on board to increase the overall supply."I tell you, a couple of good states in the process gets a long way towards that goal. We're all about increasing that supply," he said. "We're pointing out a problem."Strength of bottle-to-bottle PET recycling, fundamental in many brand owner sustainability campaigns, also is having an impact on how recycled PET is being used.For the first time ever, bottle applications for recycled PET outpaced fiber usage in 2020, NAPCOR said. But that's not to say that the fiber demands for products such as carpeting and textiles is waning. Bottle demand for recycled PET was up 32 percent in just one year, according to the latest numbers.NAPCOR, also for the first time, created a separate analysis of post-consumer PET thermoformed packaging in the latest report."It is very encouraging that we're seeing the growth of PET thermoforming," NAPCOR Communications Director Laura Stewart said. "It's been significant growth over the last several years."NAPCOR said PET thermoform recycling grew by 6.2 percent in 2020 to 134.1 million pounds in the United States and Canada. That's a 63 percent increase since 2017, the group said.The group now plans to include PET thermoform information in each year's report.source : https://www.plasticsnews.com/news/pandemic-impacts-pet-container-recycling-demand-increasesedit : handler
관리자 2021-11-24
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Global 3D printing industry revenue to hit US$40.8bn by 2024Constantly evolving value chains, market innovations, and cutting-edge technology developments are pushing 3D printing into the mainstream market. The global 3D printing industry revenue is expected to continue its surge 155% hitting US$40.8 billion in value by 2024, according to data gathered by LearnBonds. 3D printing enables the production of complex shapes using less material than traditional manufacturing methods, which is why it is widely used for small production runs, prototyping, small business, and educational use.In 2020, the global 3D printing industry is expected to be worth US$16 billion, revealed Wohlers Associates Annual Report on the State of 3D Printing. In the next two years, the market revenue is forecast to touch $25.5 billion. Statistics indicate the strong upward trend is set to continue in the following years, with the market revenue growing by a compound annual growth rate of 26.4% between 2020 and 2024.The State of 3D Printing Report by Sculpteo also revealed that in 2020, the most popular use case of 3D printing was prototyping among 68% of those asked, a 34% rise compared to 2017 figures. Another 59% of companies and businesses used the technology for proof of concept purposes, 36% more than three years ago.Statistics show that 49% of companies used 3D printing in production, a 27% rise on 2017. Research & education and creation of mechanical & spare parts follow with 42% and 40% of respondents, respectively.The survey also showed that 41% of those asked said that speeding up product development is one of the main reasons they use 3D. Offering customized products and limited series ranked as the second most-important reason for using the process. Increasing production flexibility was third among 12% of respondents.source : http://www.adsalecprj.com/en/news_show-69160.htmledit : HANDLER
editor 2021-04-21
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Analysts cautiously optimistic about auto sales in 2021U.S. light-vehicle sales are set up for a major comeback in the second half of 2021, but the industry isn't yet in the clear as it enters a testy winter wracked by an ongoing rise in coronavirus cases.While the health crisis continues to keep the public on alert, there have been encouraging developments that could boost consumer sentiment in the months ahead and bolster vehicle sales. Several vaccines have been approved for emergency use, and President Donald Trump in late December signed a bill that will send a second round of stimulus checks.The industry built momentum toward the end of 2020, achieving year-over-year sales gains in September and October after battling back from a brutal second quarter. Automakers and dealers closed the year on a high note for profitability as well, with average transaction prices for new vehicles in December projected by some to top $40,000 for the first time.Industry experts expect sales to tick up from roughly 14.5 million in 2020 — the first time they would finish below 17 million since 2014 — to as high as 16.2 million this year.Cox Automotive made a more conservative projection of 15.2 million sales this year as it waits to see how the country handles the pandemic in the coming months, said its senior economist, Charlie Chesbrough. One factor will be public reaction to the vaccine rollouts."It's going to be a tough winter, but once we get through it, the situation out there suggests that we really could have a very strong economy," Chesbrough said. "If you look at the savings rates, people who do have their jobs and haven't been hit by this pandemic very much, they've been saving money like crazy. People are not going out to eat, they're not traveling or they're not spending frivolously. People are just kind of hunkering down and staying home."This extra money, Chesbrough added, will be "unleashed" at some point. "There's seriously trillions of dollars that people are sitting on, just waiting to spend," he said.First quarterThe industry's seasonally adjusted annualized rate of light-vehicle sales likely will be down in the first quarter from the same period in 2019, analysts say, before increasing later in the year."Especially as the vaccine spreads through the population, people get more and more confident with how safe they are going out and how confident they are in their jobs," said Sam Fiorani, vice president of AutoForecast Solutions. The forecasting firm projects 16.2 million light-vehicle sales in 2021.Still, there is uncertainty as the vaccines are distributed and cases of the virus continue to climb in many states."There is some risk in 2021 mainly centered in the first quarter. That's because we don't know what things will look like as the vaccine rolls out," said Jeff Schuster, president of global forecasting at LMC Automotive. "As that happens, things will improve, but not until you get to large numbers. It's not going to affect any of the restrictions and lockdowns that we're seeing."The general consensus is that mass vaccinations could happen by the second half of the year, but if distribution goes faster than expected, Schuster said the industry could rebound sooner.Analysts expect sales to improve in the second quarter, and by then, the industry may have a more accurate outlook on what's to come, said Mark Wakefield, global co-leader of the automotive and industrial practice at AlixPartners."The real test will be the second quarter," Wakefield said. "You're going to have a clear view of, 'Are we starting to see the tailwind expected from the vaccine impacts? Are we starting to see some supply chains … be less of a constraint?' "Tyson Jominy, vice president of data and analytics at J.D. Power, said the vehicle market is strong, despite having so much working against it.J.D. Power data shows the average transaction price surpassing $37,000 for the first time in November, and Jominy said it probably reached $38,000 in December."There's a lot of money being spent, and dealers are making a lot of money as well, so the industry is, all things considered, in a very healthy place right now because inventories are so low," Jominy said. "So long as we can maintain that discipline, we'll continue to see these record margins that we're seeing. But the history of the industry is that we need a lot of volume, and there's always the risk that we'll fall back into producing too many."Some forecasters expect inventory levels to normalize by the third quarter this year, but even with higher inventory levels, it could take a while for automakers to get dealerships enough of the vehicles that sell fastest, Fiorani said."To get the breadth of the products they're looking for, especially when you see products that traditionally have a large amount of inventory, like F-150, coming off the assembly line, it will take a while to load up all the different choices a buyer might want," he said.Chesbrough said automakers should be able to recoup some of last year's lost sales to rental companies as the travel sector rebounds in 2021.EnthusiasmBob Carter, head of sales for Toyota Motor North America, is upbeat heading into 2021. Carter said Toyota anticipates the industry will hit 16 million deliveries this year."It would seem unusual, but after coming through April and coming through COVID where the SAAR was down to 8.8 million, we are really, really enthusiastic about where the industry is heading," Carter told reporters last month."We've again revised upward our expectations of 2021. Five months ago, we were looking at 2021 around a 15.5 million SAAR, and we revised that later to a 15.8. Today, our operational plan for 2021 is 16 million, and 16 million, for those of us that have been in this business for quite some time — that's a very good industry."Automotive News reporter Larry P. Vellequette contributed to this report.source : https://www.plasticsnews.com/news/analysts-cautiously-optimistic-about-auto-sales-2021edit : plastics handler  http://www.ihandler.co.kr 
Editor 2021-01-22
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Variety, affordability key for future consumer EV adoptionThe potential future of profitable investments in electric vehicle components and infrastructure hinge on cost-cutting processes and the final price tag, analysts say, but the industry is "losing time" in a race to cut carbon emissions before climate change does irreparable damage.During a virtual panel discussion about buyers of battery electric vehicles, hosted Sept. 16 by the Center for Automotive Research, Mike Dovorany, vice president of the automotive and mobility market research team at Escalent, said developers should change the way they think about the persona of the future electric vehicle buyer."EV is an interesting space given the fact that there's so much energy and resources being put into them, and yet in a lot of ways there's a continued frustration of 'why aren't we seeing the results we would like,'" Dovorany said.The growth of EVs is important for plastics suppliers making lighter weight parts, electronics and reconfigured interiors.Escalent recently surveyed 10,000 new vehicle buyers to understand consumers' interest level in an electrified future in transportation."There's some pretty good human behavior lessons to bring to the table," Dovorany said.With about 80 percent of respondents saying they believe EVs are either "the future" or "an interesting idea," he said, "there's basically been a coalescent in the consumers' minds around the fact that electrification is the future. … That shows a lot of the work getting done is actually resonating with people."Segment variety"There's a number of people that don't need necessarily to be convinced," he said.About 15 percent of respondents said they want an EV but are "just waiting for the right product," Dovorany said.And those vehicle varieties are coming, Dovorany said, with the auto industry "on the cusp" of having dozens of new kinds of EVs in production over the next few years. "It's exciting," he said.But there's "not really time to wait for everyone to get comfortable with technologies," Britta Gross, managing director of Rocky Mountain Institute's mobility practice, said at the event. "We've got to start this acceleration of adoption today.""If we're going to have a meaningful impact on climate and temperature, we've got to get on pace today," Gross said, with more than 50 million EVs on U.S. roads, about one in five vehicles, and about 300,000 fast-charging systems in U.S. infrastructure by 2030."Consumers aren't rushing to get into a vehicle segment that they don't prefer," she said. "They're waiting to see the products they want in the form and function they want. … It's really important that there are more vehicles on the market."In 2019, Gross said, about 50 percent of available-for-purchase EVs were cars, about 20 percent were SUVs and crossovers, and none were pickups.Affordability is important, but not to all EV buyers"Obviously," she said, battery cost and vehicle affordability in mainstream segments are going to be key to seeing that level of EV adoption."It depends on who your buyer is— sometimes cost is important and sometimes it's not," Dovorany added.For about 10 percent of respondents to Escalent's survey, a plug-in hybrid was considered a "logical step" for those interested in electrification but not ready for a full-electric vehicle, Dovorany said. "And there's a really substantial amount that really just don't know enough to make a decision."Cost and profitability of charging infrastructure are also key to reaching the scale of EV adoption necessary to reduce carbon emissions, Gross said."Every utility [company] should be engaged and investing in what's needed for this transformation of transportation," she said. "But alone, utilities can't do it. We've got to find a way to get rid of some of the cost barriers that make it not profitable for private investment to get into these markets."Gross said debates over short-term issues are wasting time for utility developers looking to invest. Policies and awareness campaigns could help speed up the public education and eventual adoption of new technologies, she added.Demographically, higher-income and younger EV enthusiasts tend to be influential, Dovorany said, and they play a role in heightening emotion or excitement over the future of electric mobility."There's messaging that can happen that isn't just talking about how an EV is less bad than a gasoline vehicle, but how it's exciting in ways that people might not even think about," Dovorany said. "Be more creative with your thinking. Understand that this is, at its core, an emotional purchase on some level for almost every consumer. If you can understand that, it will bring things up and allow things to be accomplished more successfully."source : https://www.plasticsnews.com/news/variety-affordability-key-future-consumer-ev-adoption
Editor 2020-10-23
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Not there yet: Auto industry grapples with electric vehicle hurdlesThe road map is a bit ambiguous. But then again, so is the road ahead.Automakers and suppliers are doing their best to drive the industry toward electrification, but that's not always easy to do, especially as goals change and consumers hesitate to embrace technology.So the auto industry pushes forward with technological innovations, accelerating toward a future where electric vehicles are as much a part of the landscape as their internal combustion engine counterparts.And, as with any journey, some are getting restless to reach the destination."Are we there yet? The answer is no," said Joerg Trampler, who is responsible for all of ZF Friedrichshafen A.G.'s powertrain engineering operations in North America. "The road to electrification is an endurance race."Trampler joined Dustin Krause, Volkswagen Group of America Inc.'s North American director of e-mobility, for a discussion about the future of electric vehicle technology and what it will take to go from niche product to mass market. The discussion was part of a webinar series hosted Aug. 4-5 by the Center for Automotive Research as part of the annual Management Briefing Seminars. The event, typically hosted in Traverse City, Mich., transitioned to an online format because of the COVID-19 pandemic.Every major automaker is focused on and investing in EV technology, and Volkswagen is no exception. Following its Audi and Porsche brands, which already introduced EV models of their own, VW is gearing up to roll out its ID.4, a compact crossover that is due to hit dealer showrooms later this year.Volkswagen, Krause said, had covered the "luxury market and the sports car market. Now, we are going to hit the mass market, taking inspiration from what our customers wanted and what others are doing."While the ID.4 may be among the first EVs that auto makers hope will break through to the mass market, it won't be the last."The world will go toward electrification," Trampler said. "We just don't know how fast."To that end, ZF has some predictions of its own.By 2030, ZF expects that 40 percent of new vehicles will be high-voltage EVs, either fully BEV or a high-voltage hybrid. Of the remaining 60 percent of new vehicles, a majority of those will be some sort of mild hybrid that later could transition to fully electric models.While it feels like the industry has a long way to go before consumers fully embrace EV technology as a viable option, progress has been made. Because it's not the technology itself that is keeping the industry from moving forward, especially in North America. It's a mindset.Krause said he is certain that most consumers haven't had the opportunity to experience exactly what EVs have to offer, and that will be key as auto makers look to help them make the switch.The good news, he said, is that changing that perception is as simple as a test drive."Getting behind the wheel of (an electric) car," Krause said, "it changes something."Trampler agreed."A lot of people who say 'I am not ready' or 'electric vehicles are bad' probably have never driven one," Trampler said. "I got hooked the first time I sat in an electric vehicle. The drivetrain was different, and it handled well. I would encourage everyone to try an electric vehicle and see what you think."Securing a seat behind the wheel of a test-driven vehicle may be harder than it sounds because the automotive buying experience is changing. The days of visiting a dealer, scoping out the inventory and taking a couple of cars for a spin before making a purchase are gone. Most consumers begin the buying process online and may only test one or two cars.With the rise of online vehicle sales platforms, some may never test drive the car they buy.This certainly presents a challenge, Krause said. Which is why it's up to the automotive industry not only to prove what EVs can do, but push for the infrastructure to support them."The first thing is getting someone behind the wheel," Krause said. "The second thing is showing them that solutions exist for them to own this thing."Range anxiety remains one of the most common concerns consumers have regarding EVs. For generations, the vehicle has been synonymous with freedom — the ability to go anywhere you want, whenever you want.Krause said he remembers someone saying they were concerned the range of the electric vehicle would not suit their lifestyle: "What if I want to go Florida at a moment's notice?" They asked him."I was like, when have you ever done that before?"Still, he said, it's exactly that kind of question that holds consumers back, realistic or not.Krause made the leap to EVs a little more than a decade ago. At that time, there were few options for charging, and he remembered making calculated pit stops at camp grounds to ensure that he had a place to recharge the car.Today, he said, that has changed. Municipalities, states and companies — including Volkswagen — have invested in a charging infrastructure that stretches across the continental U.S., giving EV owners the opportunity to embrace the freedom they expect from their vehicles.If changes that big can be made in just one decade, the next could be even better for the industry as it pushes toward its goals."Just think where we are going to be in another 10 years," Krause said.source : https://www.plasticsnews.com/news/not-there-yet-auto-industry-grapples-electric-vehicle-hurdles
editor 2020-08-21
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Some auto suppliers ‘won't make it' through reopening challenges, analyst saysFord started resuming production and operations in the United States today. The company has implemented robust safety and care measures globally to help support a safe and healthy environment for the company’s workforce, including health assessment measures, personal protective equipment and facility modifications to increase social distancing.Detroit — As the automotive industry reopens production in North America, some members of its supply chain are facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic and an income gap from widespread shutdowns of nonessential production.Ben Holder, president and CEO of Lindstrom, Minn.-based Plastic Products Co., told Plastics News the injection molder has faced "a huge challenge" amid reduced demand in the industry.The company was able to stay open for some essential production throughout shutdowns, Holder said, but it has done "a lot of reducing operations then increasing operations again," due to its two largest customers shutting down plants because of COVID-19 cases in their facilities and decreased output as they implement production line changes for social distancing."We are managing as well as we can," he said."Sales for May were only 70 percent of budgeted levels," Holder added. "A few employees have expressed concerns [over COVID-19] in certain locations but concern is not widespread."Injection molder MVA Stratford lost about 10 percent of its workforce during shutdowns for "various reasons," including those employees moving, finding other opportunities or a lack of childcare, General Manager Jason Cousins said in an email."We have hired to react to this and are still in process of getting back to full staff," Cousins said. "We expect to be back to normal head count with new hiring within a few weeks. We also see large increases from our customers that will challenge capacity in the coming months for both machine and labor."Planning ahead with customers "helped a lot" with restarting efforts, he said, "but we were not given a lot of notice on how quickly the numbers would recover and surpass old volumes again. Our customers did openly communicate though and were giving all the information they had to give us.""We are hoping that [case] levels stay at pre-COVID shutdown or a slight increase that is manageable," Cousins added. "It is uncertain though what the future will bring with auto sales. Forecasts do look very strong though."Charlotte Smith/Ford Motor Co.  Ford has started resuming production and operations in the United States. As the automotive industry reopens throughout the country, some members of its supply chain are facing challenges from the coronavirus pandemic and an income gap from widespread shutdowns of nonessential production.‘Kinks in the supply chain'Some suppliers might be more financially poised to revamp production more quickly than others, Laurie Harbour, CEO and president of consulting firm Harbour Results Inc., told Plastics News, but she said to expect "kinks in the supply chain … because there's going to be a lot of molders that won't make it."Going into 2020, many Tier 2 suppliers were already "not financially healthy," Harbour said, and loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program are now "masking the problems.""They had bad balance sheets, bad profit or no profit," she said. "Then they got hit by COVID, and great, they got a bunch of money to make payroll. … It's like a Band-Aid."As suppliers revamp their production levels, cash on hand will be a deciding factor for them to purchase raw materials, tooling, "and all the things that go into the supply chain," Harbour said."There's some very strong shops who are making it through, no problem, and they're going to take over work from others," she said. "Those guys will be the ones who survive. … The most important thing is managing how you manage the labor and the PPP loans."Harbour said her firm is advising suppliers to take PPP money "as a loan" and focus on improving efficiency, which "the molding industry has lost sight of," rather than on attempting to qualify for loan forgiveness by bringing back employees early."This is a low-interest loan, only 1 percent," she said. "It's not collateralized. You don't have to sign your house away. Don't bring back all the people just so you can get forgiveness on the loan. That's the wrong behavior."You need to look at your volumes and if you're only going to be at 70 percent of pre-COVID levels, you need to get rid of some of your workforce or at least keep them on longer-term layoffs," Harbour added.Workers should come back only when needed to build parts."This isn't going to go away in the blink of an eye, and there's going to be something else behind it," she said. "Whether it's a second breakout or this huge recession we might have, you name it. We have to use this opportunity from COVID to finally get better and stop being complacent."The second challenge is in forecast," Harbour said. "People have been told to come back and be ready to make parts but might not be getting forecasts from their customers."Tier 1 suppliers may not know what their OEM customers need, she said, "so how do they then tell their suppliers what they need?"Some suppliers may also need to take time to deplete their inventories as OEMs take stock of their own.Harbour said she expects these communication, demand and workforce challenges will likely be faced through the end of June and that orders to suppliers will be "sporadic.""In July, I'm seeing numbers that are double what they are in June," she said. "We get to the end of June and plants stay open and Tier 1s stay open and we don't have a lot of [COVID-19] cases and it stays flat, I think we're going to see things ramp up pretty quickly in July and August."The kinds of vehicles suppliers' products go into will also affect their ability to bounce back, Harbour said."Suppliers doing trucks, pickups, SUVs that are selling really well, that stuff is going to go heavy," she said. "We're down to like 10 days of inventory on pickup trucks — the lowest I think we've ever been. Those suppliers that are on cars and vehicles that still have volumes, even some of the luxury models, are not going to ramp up as quickly."Liquidity front and center"It's really dependent on what's going on with your customers and the supply chain," Steve Hilfinger, a partner with Detroit-based Foley & Lardner's automotive industry advising team, said. "It's the same things that were relevant before. That would have been the case six months ago. … That's not COVID-specific."When all this hit in March, the front and center issue was examining liquidity," Hilfinger said. "If companies thought they'd hit a bump in the road or potentially default on their credit agreements, they drew down their lines of credit if they were able to. … A lot of companies did that to generate dry powder; you saw that with GM and companies of all size."During the shutdown, he said, suppliers still received payments "from work or parts that they shipped 45 days before that.""We haven't hit the liquidity pinch that we're going to start to see as suppliers ramp up," he said. "As they have to order more raw materials, this will be the period that those receivables are not coming in related to the period they were shut down."Hilfinger said that early payment plans by OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers through lenders can help, "especially if the discount rate isn't too severe.""Another way would be just to go directly to your customer and ask for traditional accommodations — say faster pay vs. going to the bank and factoring receivables," he said. "It's a good way to short-circuit some of that and simply negotiate quicker payment terms."Eventually as we start to ramp up production, there might not be as much as the need for factoring because there won't be that hole that's starting to open now," he added. "I think that the third quarter will be when the pinches really start to hit for some companies."Longtime trending programs like autonomous vehicles and mobility that had been driving a lot of automotive investment activity might be pushed back in 2020 due to a lack of surplus capital, Hilfinger said."I think right now people are just trying to figure out how to get to the other side of this crisis, and they're conserving cash and capital to a great extent. There's so much more uncertainty than when we just had simple problems like tariffs to worry about."source : https://www.plasticsnews.com/news/some-auto-suppliers-wont-make-it-through-reopening-challenges-analyst-says
Editor 2020-07-05