• Pat McGibbon

20 Second Pulse: The Slowdown Accelerates in the Closing Days of April

According to our recent survey results, members have a dim view about the outlook and activity levels for the manufacturing technology market in the short term. While service work and preventive maintenance continue, business opportunities continue to dwindle. Still, members’ longer-term outlook continues to improve as responses about the future are increasingly optimistic on the 6-month and 12-month outlooks. New quotation requests and orders received are primarily from second- and third-tier manufacturers for large production programs in the auto, construction, medical equipment, and appliance industries. This business reflects customers’ fourth quarter commitments for deliveries to their OEMS and the lead times necessary to deliver and test new production equipment. 

Our distributors and builders have employees in the office, on the floor, in the field, and at home. We continue to hear great news about the number of members who have already received their Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans. We expect that we will receive another round of good news soon from members whose banks will have access to a new round of loans thanks to congressional action to expand the funds available for the loan program. Dozens of members have applied for the Main Street Loan Program and we would appreciate anyone who gets a loan through the program to share their story.

Many companies who have not received PPP loans have furloughed portions of their staff to manage cash flow and liquidity. As noted before, members have utilized the downtime in productive ways such as further education, recertification, and check-ins with customers by phone and video calls. Virtual happy hours, card games, and huddles have turned into brainstorming sessions, collaborations, and new business opportunities. AMT leadership forum groups are meeting weekly rather than quarterly by web conferencing to share problems, learn from each other, and seek assistance. Some great ideas have developed in these meetings. 

In one instance, AMT was encouraged to help foreign builders seeking assistance for installations in the United States to link up with AMT members. We are reaching out to our AMT counterparts overseas to set up exchanges of information to facilitate these opportunities. We have also been asked how members can join a web conference network. There are two ways to leverage the experience of others through your membership. First, if you are comfortable with sharing your challenges with the entire membership, post your question or idea on the AMTnews.org forum page. Second, if you prefer the smaller audience and social aspects of a group, Steve Lesnewich, Vice President of Membership, would be glad to help put groups together. If you are interested, contact Steve at (703) 827-5227 or email him at slesnewich@amtonline.org.

Releases of data that allow us to quantify the impact of the pandemic have started to be released. Until now, releases on the PMI, consumer sentiment, orders, and other manufacturing metrics had no data points from March or April. The industrial production index for durable manufacturing for the month of March is available. The index fell 9% from February levels, which is the largest drop in the index since the series began in 1972. Other manufacturing metrics will begin to flow with March and April comparisons during the next week. We will have highlights of the information here on this website with links to the press releases sharing analysts’ insights. Additionally, AMT’s economic indicators database is available online through MTInsight with data and complete visualizations. If you haven’t accessed MTInsight, please reach out to Ian Stringer at istringer@amtonline.org or Chris Chidzik at cchidzik@amtonline.org.

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