It would be great to have a crystal ball right now. I’d most like to get a view of what the North American auto industry will look like in just 12 months. Will GM, Chrysler and major Tier Ones survive as standalone entities? My guess is yes, but with a dramatically reconstituted asset base.One sign of potential changes comes from an SEC filing Feb. 5 from a company called Strattec Security Corp. Strattec and two partners bought a $6.7 million piece of Delphi’s auto partmaking business. Delphi, the former GM unit, announced that its Power Products was “non-core” last October. The business develops and manufactures power lift gates, power deck lids, power sliding doors, and power cinching latches and strikers. Delphi is desperately trying to raise cash to emerge from bankruptcy. Proceeds from the power products sale is a tiny piece of the puzzle, but shows how a new automotive supply industry may be emerging-albeit very slowly-in the USA.
Strattec was formed only in 1995 in Milwaukee, WI, as a spinoff from Briggs & Stratton, which first began developing auto components 100 years ago. The spinoff of the technology into Strattec created more opportunity for the business to raise capital and develop alliances. Strattec is taking over the North American Power Products business from Delphi while partners are acquiring foreign assets.
Here’s what’s interesting: Strattec is affected by the downturn in US car sales and has reduced work force and frozen executive salaries. But it’s still investing in the business. A company with strong technology and management is taking offer the assets of a troubled company, and probably re-investing at the right time. That could be the future of the North American auto supply business.
As an interesting side note, Strattec also disclosed in the 10-Q SEC filing that it is moving a large volume ignition lock housing program originally planned for China to its North American operations in Milwaukee and Juarez, Mexico. That move could boost North American sales by more than $12 million over the next two years.
Many of the new adhesives we're featuring in this slideshow are for use in automotive and other transportation applications. The rest of these new products are for a wide variety of applications including aviation, aerospace, electrical motors, electronics, industrial, and semiconductors.
A Columbia University team working on molecular-scale nano-robots with moving parts has run into wear-and-tear issues. They've become the first team to observe in detail and quantify this process, and are devising coping strategies by observing how living cells prevent aging.
Many of the new materials on display at MD&M West were developed to be strong, tough replacements for metal parts in different kinds of medical equipment: IV poles, connectors for medical devices, medical device trays, and torque-applying instruments for orthopedic surgery. Others are made for close contact with patients.
New sensor technology integrates sensors, traces, and electronics into a smart fabric for wearables that measures more dimensions -- force, location, size, twist, bend, stretch, and motion -- and displays data in 3D maps.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.