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Monday, February 29, 2016

Working on a Workforce for a Strong Manufacturing Future

The U.S. economy is in recovery mode, adding an average of 221,000 jobs per month in 2015.  Last month, for the first time since early 2008, the unemployment rate fell below 5%.  In the last 12 months, the number of unemployed Americans decreased by 1.1 million.  Manufacturing has been an engine for growth.  The sector is expected to create 3.5 million new jobs in the next decade.  But manufacturers still face a number of challenges related to recruiting and retaining qualified workers.  As many a 2 million of the expected 3.5 million manufacturing jobs could go unfilled due to a lack of skilled workers.

In a recent survey of One Voice members (PMA members and members of the National Tooling and Machining Association), 77 percent of members reported they currently have skilled job openings.  For those with job positions, 66% reported having 1-5 jobs open, 8% have 6-10 openings, and 4% have between 11-20 open jobs.

Finding the right people to fill these jobs isn’t easy.  The same survey showed that 97% of manufacturers are having difficulty finding qualified employees, with 55% ranking that difficulty as “severe.”

One of the critical challenges with finding workers is that the shop floors of most American manufacturing facilities have changed drastically in a very short time.  Gone are the days of dark, dirty, and dangerous facilities.  They’ve been replaced by the high-tech…while requires workers to be highly trained.

While manufacturers are doing everything they can to recruit and train a new generation of workers, government decision-making still plays a role.  For instance, PMA supported the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) which was signed into law last year.  Final rules are expected to come out in June of this year. In addition, PMA advocates for regional and sector partnerships that include industry recognized skills and that can be implemented at the local level.
In an election year that will decide major policy issues, it is more important than ever to make sure the voices of local manufacturers are heard.  Policymakers in Washington have the ability to help – or hurt – manufacturers who are seeking to fill open jobs.

Take the opportunity to speak out in support of manufacturing workforce development at the upcoming eighth-annual One Voice Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. on April 12-13, 2016. Members of Congress from every state need to hear from local manufacturers.  Meeting with lawmakers is one of the best ways to ensure that Congress learns about the important issues that impact the industry and that the manufacturing industry continues to thrive. For more event details and registration, please visit

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Partner You Can Depend On

To keep your company on top, it is essential to have partners you can depend on.  The Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) is proud to have served the metalforming industry as that trusted resource for nearly 75 years.  An investment in a partnership with PMA can provide you with:
  • Opportunities for networking and business development through PMA’s conferences, seminars and local districts
  • Significant discounts on a wide range of training systems and educational materials
  • Partnership with PMA affinity partners that save time and money on shipping, equipment, utilities and more

This video demonstrates how membership in PMA can keep your company equipped with the most current information and the best tools to be competitive in this ever-changing environment.

Have we piqued your interest?  Contact Sarah Billman, PMA sales and relationship manager, at or 216-901-8800 to connect with the only national trade association dedicated to the metalforming industry.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Stress Levels Are Increasing In The Press Shop

Pete Ulintz
PMA Technical Director

Stamping high-tensile-strength materials can affect the size, strength, power and overall configuration of every major piece of press-line equipment, including, presses, feed systems and coil-straightening systems.
Consider the following:
Cutting, blanking and punching stresses produce unloading forces in stamping presses called “snap-through” or “reverse-tonnage” loads. Because high-strength materials require greater stress to blank and cut as compared to mild steel, they generate proportionally greater snap-through loads. These forces can easily exceed the limits for which the machine was originally designed, resulting in premature wear, damage and sometimes catastrophic failures.
Energy is expended with each stroke of the press and this energy must be replaced. Critical attention must focus on the size of the main drive motor (horsepower), flywheel mass and the rotational speed of the flywheel when stamping higher-strength materials. The main motor, with its electrical connection, is the only source of energy for the press and it must have sufficient horsepower to supply the demands of the stamping operation.
But stamping presses are not the only equipment affected by higher-strength materials.
High-strength materials have a greater tendency to retain their coil set, which makes straightening them to an acceptable level of flatness very challenging. Straightening in a traditional five- or seven- roll flattener may require larger-diameter straightening rolls and wider roll spacing in order to work the stronger material more effectively. But increasing roll diameter and center distances will limit the range of other materials that can be straightened. Additionally, roll defection - due to material strength and the deeper roll penetration required - can present significant problems. Close-center precision straighteners, having nine to 21 straightening rolls that are backed up with support rolls, often are required instead. 
Feed systems may require additional servo-motor power and/or torque capability to pull the stronger material through the straightener. Additional back tension between the feeder and straightener also is required as the higher yield strength material in the loop tends to push back against the straightener or the feed system.
Don’t assume that stamping higher-strength materials will be a “business as usual” condition for an existing press line – that can be a very costly mistake. These materials can easily push press line performance requirements well beyond the capabilities and limitations for which they were originally designed.

Interested in learning more about press line technology? Join us in Nashville, TN,on February 25, 2016 for PMA’s Press Technology Seminar.

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