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Manufacturing (611)

Cascade’s Xtreme RFID embraces tech

Written by | Friday, 06 April 2012 09:14 |

A local manufacturer wants to harness the power of information and technology to provide customers with data they can use to run their operations — or to drive behavioral changes.

The good news is that the West Michigan manufacturing sector is definitely rebounding. Demand is up. The new challenge, as we have discussed in the first two stories in this series, is that the supply of skilled workers, especially engineers, is down.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s consideration of allowing certain prescription drugs for sale as over-the-counter medications provides further future growth potential for Perrigo Co.

Coming out of one of the most tumultuous periods in the history of the automotive industry, ADAC Automotive is aggressively investing in new facilities and technology to position it to diversify into new clients and new industries.

Manufacturer opts to grow its own talent

Written by | Wednesday, 21 March 2012 12:31 |

Bryan Heath survived a Marine Corps boot camp and three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan but never realized how tough it would be to find a job in the civilian world.

Office furniture expected to dip in 2012

Written by | Monday, 19 March 2012 10:08 |

After posting strong growth for 2011, the office furniture industry will experience a small decline this year and then pick up again in 2013, according to a new forecast.

Trucks: The other vehicle market

Written by | Monday, 19 March 2012 09:42 |

The automotive industry looms large in West Michigan, but it is not the only vehicular game in town

While electric vehicles and hybrids get the headlines, Eaton Corp. is betting that the internal combustion engine still has a long life ahead of it. Automakers are by no means running away from traditional engines. In fact, industry watchers say driving more efficiencies out of the internal combustion engine is still the cheapest option for companies to meet the tightening fuel economy standards.

For the first time in more than five decades in business, Amway Corp. will operate a food processing plant at its main manufacturing campus in West Michigan. Amway’s No. 1 product line, Nutrilite, accounted for more than 40 percent of its $10.9 billion in sales for 2011. As part of a plan to restructure its supply chain, Amway recently made the decision to shut down by 2013 its Lakeview, Calif. plant, which produces Nutrilite protein powder supplements. That production has been relocated to Michigan.

Alticor surpasses $10B in sales

Written by | Wednesday, 14 March 2012 16:19 |

Growth in developing markets has fueled business for direct-seller Amway, whose parent company Alticor Inc. in February announced global sales had exceeded $10.9 billion in 2011.

Once upon a time, West Michigan executives routinely started and ended business trips with long drives to and from Detroit or Chicago. It’s no longer routine for several reasons.

It used to be only C-students and underachievers were attracted to America’s family farms. Besides working in a factory, they didn’t have many other options. But Kansas State University Professor and Agricultural Economist Kevin C. Dhuyvetter told MiBiz that is changing because of the improving U.S. farm economy.

Executives at manufacturing companies across state are grappling with a perplexing dilemma: Despite unemployment remaining at a traditionally high level, manufacturing is being crippled by a lack of skilled workers. This problem is not new. Manpower Inc. reported in its “2009 Talent Shortage Survey” that manufacturing-related occupations — skilled trades, technicians, engineers, et al — rank among the top five positions that employers were having the most trouble filling.

Small- and medium-sized West Michigan manufacturers should follow the example set by their counterparts in Germany if they would like to expand to China, according to Andy Fein of Hans-Andreas Fein & Associates. He spoke at The Right Place Inc./Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center-West “Sunrise Series” event Feb. 7 held at the GVSU Eberhard Center.

American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. (NYSE: AAM) plans to invest $102 million into its Three Rivers campus, about 25 miles south of Kalamazoo, as part of a broader corporate expansion.

The move demonstrates the Tier 1 auto industry supplier’s growing confidence in the sustainability of the national economic recovery and the recovery of the auto industry, which is positioned to sell about 14 million units in 2012.

Production wage spread narrows in Michigan

Written by | Monday, 20 February 2012 11:00 |

One of the selling points for companies in West Michigan for decades has been that labor is cheaper here than on the east side of the state. But it seems local manufacturers are slowly losing that price advantage. Employee wages in the region are still lower than what is being paid by manufacturers in the Detroit area, but local wages are climbing much closer to what is being paid on the east side.

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