February 09, 2004
Manufacturers Cautiously Optimistic About U.S. Economy
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Continuing with results seen in the third quarter of 2003, U.S. manufacturers remain upbeat and optimistic about the U.S. economy over the next 12 months, according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers Manufacturing Barometer survey just released. Despite this outlook, the manufacturing sector continues to trail a consensus view of the broader marketplace on positive economic indicators.
The Manufacturing Barometer, which compared the views of industrial manufacturing senior executives with a cross-section of all businesses, found the manufacturing responses were consistently lower. Looking ahead, 78 percent of industrial manufacturing executives are optimistic about the economy's prospects over the next 12 months. The consensus view is more upbeat (85 percent optimistic).
Growth barriers are numerous. Sixty percent of industrial manufacturing executives cite competition from foreign markets as a potential barrier to growth over the next 12 months, well ahead of the consensus (38 percent). A distant second in importance, 39 percent see lack of demand as a barrier-slightly higher than the consensus view (34 percent). Other concerns around which the industrial manufacturing sector leads the consensus including decreasing profitability, cited by 34 percent (consensus, 28 percent); capital constraints, 27 percent (consensus, 21 percent); and monetary exchange rate, 20 percent (consensus, 16 percent).
"The industrial manufacturing sector has shown improvements, quarter-to-quarter and is nearly as upbeat about the economic climate as other large U.S.-based businesses," said Dean Simone, managing partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers' U.S. Industrial Products industry program. "But manufacturers continue to have comparatively lower momentum; they are more fearful of competition from abroad, and must overcome many more obstacles in order to achieve solid growth in the year ahead."
The Manufacturing Barometer measured opinions on subjects ranging from the domestic economy, barriers to growth, margins and pricing to new investment strategies, hiring plans and business initiatives under consideration.
Additional highlights include:
Industrial manufacturers are well behind the consensus in planned net new hires over the next 12 months: 35 percent expect to add to their workforce (14 points behind). And, 31 percent are planning to further reduce their workforce (seven points more). On average, industrial manufacturing businesses expect to reduce their current workforce by an average of 1.7 percent over the next 12 months, compared to an increase of 0.3 percent for the consensus.
management systems that allow manufacturers to be more flexible and adaptable to ever-changing customer needs and demands.
Autodesk Offers Free DWF Writer For Distributing Designs
Autodesk has introduced its DWF Writer, a free, downloadable application for creating Design Web Format (DWF) files from many CAD and Microsoft Windows applications. Autodesk DWF Writer enables users collaborate by sharing their designs and drawing sets in the DWF file format, regardless of the application in which they were created.
The highly compressed, secure format was specifically created for design data and delivers multi-sheet, view, print and Web-ready capabilities. Autodesk customers using AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, Autodesk Revit, and other Autodesk applications can already create DWF files directly from the built-in publish command. Autodesk DWF Writer brings this same functionality to other CAD applications that do not offer built-in DWF publishing, such as Bentley Microstation and SolidWorks.
Because anyone can create a DWF file, Autodesk is hoping that project teams will standardize on this as a common file format to exchange designs and drawing sets.
write multi-sheet drawings in DWF format.
Highlights of the Autodesk DWF Writer include:
Autodesk DWF Writer is available from
back on my experiences with it after I feel I've had enough time to objectively and comprehensively discuss it. It's obviously optimized for Autodesk applications ("The DWF file format leverages Autodesk technology"), so it will be interesting to see how it interacts and how well it plays with other applications, especially competing CAD applications.
Special Event At NDES: The Future of 3D Mechanical Design
If you are attending the National Design Engineering Show (NDES) later this month in Chicago, be sure not to miss a special event of interest to MCAD folks. CADCAMNet publisher Steve Wolfe will moderate a unique panel session entitled "The Future of 3D Mechanical Design: Lifting the Software Barrier to Creative Product Design." This event will take place Tuesday, February 24 from 10:00 to 11:00 am in room 401 of Chicago's McCormick Place.
The computer-aided design (CAD) industry has "simplified" its software user interfaces to enable engineers to create designs more quickly and efficiently than ever before. But designing products in 3D CAD is still harder than it should be, often forcing engineers to spend more time manipulating the software than exploring all of the creative possibilities. The next step in the evolution of CAD is to transform the technology from a complex set of tools to a transparent extension of engineers' creative intents.
This panel features five of the industry's top visionaries talking about CAD/CAM technology, its current development challenges, and where it is headed. Panelists include John McEleney, CEO, SolidWorks Corp.; Charles Grindstaff, VP, EDS PLM Solutions; Buzz Kross,Vice President, Manufacturing Solutions Division, Autodesk Inc.; James Heppelmann, Chief Product Officer, PTC; and Ken Hoadley, VP of Engineering, Sensable Technologies.
so come armed with some tough questions to pose to the panelists.
You can find the full MCADCafe event calendar here.
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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.
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