We’re just over halfway through 2018 and we thought it’d be a great time to revisit our old post What Manufacturers Need to Know in 2018. In addition to revisiting some of those themes, we took on a few topics that have been mentioned in the news recently.
Technology & Innovation:
Earlier this year, we made the claim that investing in technology and innovation was key to being competitive in manufacturing and we took our own advice by investing in a Willemin. The industries that we serve are advancing at such a fast rate, that we do what we can to keep up. The demands on precision manufacturers have continued to increase year over year and Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) reports that the precision machining industry continues to outperform 5-year averages by wide averages.
The Skills Gap:
PMPA also reports that the industry is doing so well that 98% of precision machining companies are expecting an increase in their employment opportunities and SPM happens to be one of them. If you know of anyone that might be interested in working at SPM, send them our way. The skills gap or labor shortage in manufacturing isn’t just a temporary problem. Researchers expect the gap to widen indefinitely without major change. Not only will companies need to ensure they’re an enjoyable place to work, they’ll also have to spend time training up inexperienced staff. These are both areas SPM makes an effort to excel at.
Tariffs and Cost of Materials:
The new tariffs implemented on aluminum and steel have been in the news quite a bit and they’ve had an impact on pricing. According to Steel Benchmarker, U.S. steel prices are higher than they’ve been since the 2009 recession. Steel from the EU and China is less expensive however this steel is impacted by the new tariffs. While prices may be rising, they are not slowing down domestic manufacturing and precision machining industries.
Manufacturing Industry Developments:
In addition to keeping up on the manufacturing and precision machining industries, we also like to keep as up to date as we can on the industries we serve.
One of the big trends we’ve been keeping an eye on is autonomy, from self-driving cars to autonomous space planes. It’s a trend that impacts the automotive and aerospace industries and several new businesses are popping up to aim at being leaders in this space. Earlier this year, Uber’s self-driving truck hit a pedestrian and one might expect it’d slow down the industry. But Uber wasn’t even slowed down. While it did close it’s self-driving truck division, it’s doubling down on it’s self-driving car division. Big companies are investing in autonomy but new, smaller companies are as well and we’re interested to see where they’ll go for their manufacturing needs.
A trend that SPM has significant experience in is surgical robotics. Minimally invasive surgical robots have been in use for decades, however growth of the industry has been slow. Over the last few years, use of these robots have picked up. Recently, it’s been reported that surgical robotics will be a $5 billion industry in the U.S. by 2024. It’s one industry in which we’ve seen explosive growth over the last year or two.
Looking Forward to 2019:
Early forecasts are predicting that 2019 will be another strong year for manufacturing and precision machining. As always at SPM, we’re focused on acquiring technology to stay ahead of the industry, investing in our team because they make all the difference, and keeping an eye on the trends that impact the industries we serve.