Feature

Boeing Orders Point to Slowdown

WASHINGTON—The U.S. economic slowdown widely forecast for the first quarter may be arriving in the second, driven by faltering industrial activity.
 Orders for so-called durable goods—manufactured products designed to last at least three years, such as cars, appliances and commercial aircraft— tumbled 2.1% from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted $248.4 billion in April, the Commerce Department said Friday. The government also said such orders grew less than previously estimated in March,

Factory Machinists Become Coders

As automation changes the way factories operate, some U.S. companies are training workers in programming and robotics, letting machinists get a taste of coding.
 Competition from China was among the reasons Drew Greenblatt, chief executive of manufacturing firm Marlin Steel Wire Products LLC, purchased $2 million of robots in the past 15 months. The Baltimore maker of wire baskets is training employees on operating the robots and using laser cutting software.

Amtrak Puts $2 Billion On the Line

HORNELL, N.Y.—The future of American high-speed rail is sitting in a building older than the Battle of Gettysburg: a cavernous factory that holds the first shells of a $2 billion fleet of Amtrak Acela trains due to begin running from Washington, D.C., to Boston two years from now.
 Even as Congress moves toward renewed debates over the future of both Amtrak and high-speed rail, the first of 28 new Acela train sets are starting to take shape here. They are the

Airbus on track to regain deliveries crown

Airbus is on course to triumph over its rival Boeing this year in the annual aircraft delivery race after strong results showed increases in production output. Group revenues surged 24 per cent to €12.5bn, reflecting a rise in commercial aircraft deliveries and the increase in production.
 In contrast, Boeing has had to scale back production because of the worldwide groundings of its best-selling 737 Max aircraft in the wake of two deadly crashes.

Cloud Gathers Over Chip Makers

Cloud computing has been a rainmaker for the semiconductor industry, but there are still some dry patches.
 One seems upon the industry now: Intel Corp., one of the world’s largest chip makers, reported a drop in first-quarter sales for its data-center business and issued a sharp reduction in its forecast for the year. Much smaller Xilinx surprised investors a day earlier with its own disappointing data-center sales.

Robot-Maker Locus Raises $26 Million

Locus Robotics Corp. raised $26 million in a funding round that will help the warehouse- automation company expand the reach of its robots, which help speed up the fulfillment of e-commerce orders.
 The Series C round increased to $66 million the funding the Wilmington, Mass.-based company has raised since the business was spun out in 2015 from Quiet Logistics Inc.
 The new funding came from investors including Zebra Ventures, the strategic investment arm of logistics-technology firm Zebra Technologies Corp., and Scale Venture Partners, which

Aluminum Makers Feel Sanctions

The Trump administration's aluminum tariffs are aimed at boosting U.S. producers' profits. But another move by the administration — sanctions against Russian aluminum giant United Co. Rusal and its founder Oleg Deripaska — is having the opposite effect.
 The sanctions have pushed up prices for aluminum's key ingredient, alumina, eating into the profits of U.S. producers, analysts and aluminum makers say. It takes about two tons of alumina to make one ton of aluminum, and companies that had purchased the white powdery material from Rusal, which makes 6% of the world's alumina, have scrambled for supplies

The True Meaning of Industry 4.0 for Manufacturers

Germany has been bandying about the slogan Industry 4.0 for about 10 years now, yet most people still don’t know what it is all about. It is an excellent piece of marketing slang, both extremely complicated to understand and yet brilliantly simple. Even those who get it, however, mostly fail to grasp the implication of this industrial revolution.

It Is Getting Pricier in the Cloud

Staying competitive in the cloud is expensive. The two largest players in the industry aren't making it any cheaper.
 Salesforce.com and Adobe are the largest software companies that derive all or most of their revenue from subscription-based services. It is hardly a zerosum game at this point; analysts from KeyBanc Capital estimate that less than 10% of total enterprise tech spending currently goes toward cloud software. But both companies are richly valued by investors, with stock prices that have surged more than 50% so far this year on the premise that they can continue to fuel annual growth rates of 20% or more.

The Next MacBook Might Have a Phone Inside

Laptops, which haven't been exciting for years, are about to get interesting again. Despite the rise of tablets and smartphones, laptops are still the way most people get work done. The difference between the mobile touchscreen devices and their bulkier clamshell counterparts isn't just their physical design: They actually use different sorts of processors.
 While chip maker Intel Corp. has powered most computers you've ever used, that might not be the case much longer. Many manufacturers are already using mobile chips from