VIDEO: Data Analyst Gives Insight on Contraction in the Precision Machining Sector

20. November 2019

Chris Felix, Editor-in Chief of Production Machining: Hi, Chris Felix here, Production Machining editor-in-chief. I'm here with Michael Guckes, chief economist and director of analytics for Gardner Intelligence. We're going to talk about the current numbers for the Precision Machining Index. After the longest expansion in recorded history from November 2016 to June 2019. We've seen three consecutive months of contracting business conditions, with October's reading at 46.1. This month’s reading is actually higher than last month. Why do you call it a contractionary reading?

Michael Guckes, Chief Economist and Director of Analytics for Gardner Intelligence: That's a great question, Chris, and that's one of the things that we try to explain in the index. All values that are below 50 represent a contraction in business activity. Now, when we have a month like September, which was below the October reading, what it means is that business activity was contracting faster than it was in October. And so when the numbers are on an increasing trend, but still below 50, what it tells us is that conditions are still slowing, but not as quickly as they were in prior months.

Chris Felix: So I know the index is an average of six components. Tell me about what's happening with those six components.

Michael Guckes: That's a great question. So we have six components. The ones that are leading the index right now include production and especially supplier deliveries. Supplier deliveries has been really strong for the last 18 months. It's been one of the leading components of the index. Unfortunately, some of the components have really bifurcated from the others and really that includes backlogs and exports. What we've seen in the last several months is that in order to maintain production levels where they have been in the recent past, we're seeing a lot of precision machinists have to resort to dwindling down their backlogs in order to level set production. And part of the issue there is simply [that] new orders aren't as strong as they used to be. And so when you look at our index numbers, you'll see that there's a pretty reasonable gap between new orders and production results in the last several months. And so that's really been influencing backlogs.

Chris Felix: Michael, do the recent weak readings mean the entire PM world is contracting?

Michael Guckes: Not at all, Chris. What we're seeing is that, by end market, for example, we're seeing that aerospace continues to do very well. Aerospace has really been on a tear in the last 18 months or even longer. But we are seeing some weakness in other important industries. And automotive, unfortunately, is one of those where we've seen a strong contraction in automotive activity among precision machinists in the last, say, nine months.

Chris Felix: What else is your data telling you about business conditions for production machinists?

Michael Guckes: Not everybody knows that we track information about prices received — so, that's a function of your pricing power —  also, material prices, which we use as a proxy for input costs being experienced by production machinists. We also look at business sentiment and one of the things that we have found through talking to different production machinists over time is that they're very interested in pricing power, the ability to push through price, higher prices. So what our data has shown us in terms of pricing power through prices received is that in 2018 we had a very large increase in the ability of firms to pass through higher prices. And as you might expect, we've seen pricing power has come down a lot. It has not moved into contraction territory, but we have seen it fall substantially.

Chris Felix: Well, Michael, thanks for meeting with me today. For more information about business trends and activity, please visit, and of course for precision machining needs, visit


New Specs: Milling Machines from Starrag

19. November 2019
machining centers from Starrag

Techspex has added several updated machine specs to our database of machining centers from Starrag. The additions are from the company’s STC and LX series. 

According to the company, the STC series is designed for economic machining of structural parts, multi-blades and casings that require long cycle times. “These machining centers have excellent static and dynamic properties as well as a tried and tested rotatable head, making them the benchmark for heavy chip removal in titanium and Inconel parts for the aerospace and power generation industries,” the company says. The STC 1250 X is an example of the five- and six-axis machines in this series. 

The machines in the LX series are designed for turbine machining. The company says, “This ultra-modern machining platform is the result of decades of experience in the development of machine tools, CAM systems and special tools combined with our in-house expertise in the prototype and series production of turbine blades.” The LX 351 is an example of the five-axis machining centers in the series. 

You can see and compare among Starrag’s machines newly added machine specs by visiting its Techspex showroom, linked above. While you’re taking note, be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter and follow us on Twitter @techspex to stay current on additions and updates to the Techspex database.


New Specs: Swiss-Type Lathes from KSI Swiss

13. November 2019
new specs from KSI Swiss

Techspex has added several updated machine specs to our database of machining centers from KSI Swiss. Specifically, we’ve added specs for several Swiss-type lathes in the company’s TCM S series: The TCM 20S, the TCM 32S and the TCM 38S. These seven-axis lathes feature large openings for easier access for setup. 

Among the other features in the series is what KSI calls Intelligent Chucking. This feture takes advantage of the 300-mm stroke to reduce the number of bar re-chucks during long production runs. “Instead of rechecking for each part, the spindle feeds 280 millimeters of material to make multiple parts in a single chucking operation and increments forward for each part. See how this can shave even more off your cycle time,” the company says.

You can see and compare KSI’s newly added machine specs by visiting its Techspex showroom, linked above. While you’re taking note, be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter and follow us on Twitter @techspex to stay current on additions and updates to the Techspex database.


Methods Machine Tools Represents OKK Corp. in North America

Posted by: Jedd Cole 30. October 2019
OKK machines

Methods Machine Tools Inc. is now representing OKK Corp. in North America. OKK manufactures horizontal, vertical and five-axis machining centers.

“We are very pleased to announce our new partnership with OKK to import, distribute and provide service and support for its broad range of high-quality machine tools,” says Mark Wright, president and CEO of Methods Machine Tools.

“We are delighted to partner with Methods, whose reputation for service and machine integration is unsurpassed, and we look forward to a long, mutually rewarding partnership,” says Takahiro Kawano, president of OKK USA. “Methods' established distribution organization, vast network of technology centers and dealers, and first-class applications expertise will help increase OKK presence in North America.”

The distributor agreement for North America does not include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Virginia. 


Marcus Machinery Has Become a Distributor for MAG and Saginaw Machine Systems

Posted by: Jedd Cole 28. October 2019
representatives of Saginaw, MAG and Marcus

MAG and Saginaw Machine Systems (SMS) have named Marcus Machinery a strategic sales and service channel partner for the states of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Both MAG and SMS are members of FFG, a global group of machine tool builders. 

“As we’ve strategically expanded our geographical coverage this past year, we’ve been looking to partner with a high-quality builder of horizontal machining centers and vertical lathes,” says Mark Henne, president of Marcus Machinery. “We’re excited to partner with MAG and Saginaw Machine Systems, and provide our customers with innovative solutions for their horizontal machining and vertical turning needs.” He goes on to say, “We feel the development of their exciting new MMH horizontal machining center will be a great fit in the Mid-Atlantic territory and is an excellent compliment to the other lines we represent.”

« Prev | | Next »
amt Modern Machine Shop Production Machining Moldmaking Technology