Andrii Yalanskyi/Dreamstime
Artist's rendition of manufacturing growth declining

Design Insights: The Supply Chain Challenge; Shake Hands with Your Cobot; STLE Meeting Goes Virtual

May 6, 2021
A review of the day’s top trending stories from Machine Design editors.

The Supply Chain Challenge

As Machine Design reported this week, the Institute for Supply Management’s monthly PMI Index fell 4 percentage points in April to 60.7%. On the surface, that’s not a bad number; 50% is the threshold for manufacturing growth and 60% is 20% above that level, so the manufacturing sector is clicking along at a strong pace. All industries reporting to the PMI Index team indicated growth.

The storm clouds are around two key areas: workforce (a perennial problem) and supply chain. The impact of the pandemic on the supply chains resilience has been well-documented, and a rethinking of where and how materials are sourced is a continuing discussion.

The specific shortage of semiconductors has started to impact automobiles and automation products. As one member of the ISM committee noted, “Demand continues to be very strong. Supply chain delays hamper our availability and ability to sell more.”

Shake Hands with Your Cobot

The personnel challenges in manufacturing and the pandemic both have had an impact on robot deployment, but an important part of that deployment is how well humans and robots work together. In the automobile industry, this relationship already has shown great benefit.

A new Machine Design e-book looks at how collaborative robots work with their human counterparts to meet the needs of the automotive industry. Three automotive industry case studies highlighting how cobot automation has helped to solve industry issues these manufacturers were facing.

STLE Meeting Goes Virtual

In its 75th year, the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE) has provided research, insight and leadership around issues ranging from protecting equipment through the proper use of lubricants to energy and environmental management.

Like many other groups, STLE had planned a gala in-person event to mark its diamond anniversary. And following those groups’ lead, those plans have been scaled back to a virtual event: The STLE Virtual Annual Meeting & Exhibition will be held May 17-20, 2021. The four-day conference will leverage a user-friendly, virtual meeting platform that will safely provide attendees with a full conference experience, including daily keynote talks, live Q&A opportunities with academic and industry leaders, nearly 300 technical presentations, posters, virtual exhibits and a plethora of networking time with colleagues. In addition, STLE will be offering five education courses virtually, before and after the general meeting, so participants can conveniently attend the virtual conference, the trade show and take as many courses as they desire. Click here to view the 2021 education course schedule.

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