This month’s issue contains a completely new feature as well as a milestone of sorts for an important part of our editorial coverage.
New things first. Our new cover story premieres on Page 7. This feature replaces the special reports we have published monthly since November 2014.
Special reports generally focused on new machinery used for a specific process or technology. Last year, we had special reports on materials-handling systems, manufacturing execution systems, gas-assisted molding equipment, hot runners, welding equipment and dryers, among others.
Starting this month, we will take an issue-oriented approach to industry topics as they relate to machinery and equipment. We will look at the challenges and opportunities these issues present. Our aim is to provide perspective and solutions that could be applicable across a range of plastics processing segments.
It may sound like a subtle difference, but the cover stories should bring a broader understanding of issues plastics processors face every day.
This month’s cover story focuses on trade policy and plastics machinery. We have seen a dizzying number of changes on trade policies and tariffs. They may or may not affect the price you pay for your next processing machine.
Correspondent Robert Grace interviewed industry experts to help you understand what’s been happening and what may be coming. It is worth reading because it addresses plastics machinery as well as the broader context of trade policy.
Glenn Frohring, one of the owners of Absolute Haitian Corp., which serves the North American market for Chinese injection molding machinery manufacturer Haitian Group, said he does not see much sense in the current trade war. It is not going to cause U.S. machinery makers to re-appear and start making machines again in the U.S.
But companies like Haitian, Yizumi-HPM, Davis-Standard, LS Mtron, Uniloy, Wittmann Battenfeld and others have had to make adjustments and find novel ways to stay competitive.
Some relief may be coming. The U.S. and China recently signed Phase 1 of a trade deal; Phase 2 is expected to take more time. The U.S., Mexico and Canada have reached a trade agreement to replace NAFTA that the Plastics Industry Association calls a win for the industry. Canada has not yet signed the agreement.
Grace also takes a look at the on-again, off-again, on-again U.S. tariffs on Chinese molds. Today, it looks like tariffs are working to prevent some low-cost molds from landing in the U.S., but it is a complex story that also involves exchange rates and more intensifying competition.
Laurie Harbour, a manufacturing consultant who closely tracks the mold-making industry, warns that U.S. mold makers are still vulnerable to Chinese competition. You can read about how tariffs and trade are affecting mold making starting on Page 12.
Later this year, we will look at how machinery makers have developed technology for lightweighting plastic parts; machinery and strategies to help processors tackle scrap and waste; securing data in the connected factory; optimizing control systems for processing equipment and much more.
We hope you will let us know if the new approach is useful to you. You can always email the editorial staff at [email protected].
Now for the milestone. Our Product Innovations have always been the backbone of Plastics Machinery Magazine’s editorial content. They are far more than regurgitated press releases. We verify that each piece of equipment is actually new or recently upgraded.
That task, as well as writing each item in a clear and concise standardized format, falls to copy editors Karen Hanna, Kathy Hayes and David Tillett.
The milestone is that this issue puts us over the 2,500 mark in Product Innovations presented since our first issue in 2014.
The Product Innovations are labor-intensive to produce and take up a good deal of our editorial space each month, but we think they are worth it. A few minutes thumbing through the Product Innovations section in each issue is a great way to be alerted to new machinery or technology.
If you are a machinery or auxiliary equipment manufacturer, we are always eager to hear from you when you have something new or upgraded to share with our readers — who are also your customers. Email your items to[email protected] and be sure to include a high-resolution photo.
Ron Shinn, editor