Like many sectors, the sheet metal industry is influenced by various factors. What are these exactly, and how is the industry reacting to these changes?
A changing sector
According to ABAS-ERP, the metal fabrication industry has faced a great deal of change over the past 15 years.
This has forced organisations to modernise many aspects of their operations, including everything from back-office IT systems to shop floor equipment, without sacrificing quality.
With ever-tighter margins, fabricators are being forced to ensure they have the right equipment for the job, such as Euromac punching machines from http://www.cotswold-machinery-sales.co.uk/euromac/punching-machines/, yet still need to find ways to keep costs down.
Additionally, many sheet metal businesses have been faced with increased domestic competition, especially as more projects go overseas.
Another major shift in the sheet metal industry of recent times is the increasing use of robots and cobots. These machines are now replacing tasks once completed by humans, meaning fewer jobs are available.
However, some industry experts argue that the situation is not all bad for the sheet metal industry. In fact, rather than witness a decline in jobs through increased use of robots and cobots, job numbers have actually risen. While fewer humans might carry out the tasks that machines now do, there is a surge in demand for skilled workers who can fix, repair and maintain the robots and cobots.
Many of the machines used in automation can improve efficiencies in the sheet metal industry, and with the cost-per-hour of usage much lower for a machine compared to paying a human, it is easy to see why industries are increasingly following the automated path.
Even when jobs are available in the sheet metal industry or other manufacturing sectors, there is a growing shift away from this area for many workers. Increasingly, job seekers are moving away from factory jobs and preferring to take work in the service, retail and healthcare sectors, instead. This is even though salaries tend to be higher in blue-collar jobs.
This shift in employment patterns poses an increasing problem for sheet metal firms looking to recruit the best calibre of staff. Many firms may be forced to seek workers from overseas, which may conflict with immigration policies of a country. For example, President Trump is currently touting a ‘Buy American, Hire American’ policy.