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Hot Off the Press


Introducing Optiware

Thursday, April 19, 2018
Newly launched Optiware, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the result of the merger between API Maintenance Systems and Axxos Industrial Systems, brings to the market two optimization software lines: API Pro and Axxos OEE. Explaining the whys behind the new company is CEO Michael Ries: “We wanted to achieve synergies and grow our business from our new, combined offering. With two strong product brands it also became clear that we needed an overarching name to present to our customers and employees and to claim our position in the world of Industry 4.0. We provide optimization software, and the new name tells you just that.”

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Report: Automotive Tooling to Remain Strong and Steady

Wednesday, April 18, 2018
The tooling outlook through yearend remains strong, according to the Q1 2018 Automotive Tooling Barometer, released by the Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA) and Harbour Results, Inc. (HRI), with key indicators—sentiment, back logs and utilization—all moving in a positive direction, though there may be a leveling off of the trajectory.

“Although we believe 2018 will be a strong sourcing year for the automotive tooling market, we see some indications of a return to more normal sourcing levels in the near future,” says Laurie Harbour, president and CEO of HRI. “It is important that shops stay vigilant, monitor industry data and be prepared to make quick decisions to stay profitable.”

The tooling sentiment index is at 80, a slight increase over Q4 2017. Additionally, the cyclical nature of work on hold looks to be up 11 percent (from 8.4 percent), but staying true to its cyclical nature, work on hold appears relatively flat throughout the remainder of the year.

Another key finding: During the past 12 months, die and mold shops experienced strong capacity utilization (90 percent and 81 percent, respectively). Average throughput, a sign of efficiency strongly correlated to profitability, also shows die shops experiencing slightly higher efficiency levels than mold shops. According to Harbour, levels of efficiency independent of shop size show some of the best as being shops larger than $40M, as well as smaller than $5M.

For the first time, the study looks at die- and mold-shop liquidity, with data showing that a shop’s liquidity is linked directly to payment terms and accounts receivable (AR) paid on time. Both factors continue to trend down with progressive payments terms dropping from 55 percent in Q4 2017 to 51 percent in Q1 2018, while AR paid on time dipped one percent.

“We feel the reason these two factors continue to trend down is twofold,” says Harbour. “First, the industry is starting to normalize, with supply outpacing demand. Second, the industry is coming off an unprecedented 18 months of tool spend – nearly $15 billion in tools – which has cash tight across the automakers and Tier 1 suppliers. If payment terms and AR paid on time continue to decrease, this adds risk to the tool and die industry. Additionally, if there is a small dip in the automotive market, it could put many shops – particularly small shops – in a challenging financial situation.”

Survey respondents included mold shops (69 percent), die shops (18 percent) and others (14 percent), in the U.S. (56 percent), Canada (37 percent), Europe (five percent) and Asia (two percent). As for revenue ranges, the largest percentage of shops represented the $5-$ to 10-million (25 percent) range, though shops with ranges below $5 million and above $45 million were represented.

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Beckwood to Manufacture Hydroforming Press for Aerospace Supplier

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Beckwood Corp., a St. Louis, MO-based manufacturer of custom hydraulic presses and automation systems, including the Triform line of precision forming equipment, has been awarded a contract by H&R Parts Co. in Wichita, KS, to manufacture a Triform model 24-5BD fluid-cell-sheet- hydroforming press. With a 24-in. diameter forming area and 5,000 PSI, the new press will support H&R’s aluminum aerospace part production.

During the fluid cell process, a pressurized rubber diaphragm filled with hydraulic oil, shapes sheet material against a single tool. This evenly distributed pressure results in net shape part production, virtually eliminating the need for hand-finishing. Due to the universal nature of the Triform diaphragm, which conforms to any shape within the forming chamber, there’s no need for mated male/female dies. Additionally, multiple parts can be formed in a single cycle, as long as the tools and blanks fit within the forming area.

Utilizing a stationary blank holder in conjunction with a single tool, H&R will form parts with closed corners and severe curves in 20 sec. or less without the need for secondary hand finishing. The advanced engineering and unique pressure containment system on the 24-5BD significantly reduces the press size and weight without sacrificing structural integrity or durability, and the compact flush-floor design uses minimal floor space without any pits or special foundations.

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