By Rachel Duran
Welcome to 2022. As we enter the new year the manufacturing sector continues to benefit from several consecutive months of an expansion cycle, which is expected to stretch across a period of time. “Which in the end, will be better for the industry overall because it will avoid the experience of a high peak or low valley,” said Timothy R. Fiore, CPSM, C.P.M., who leads the Institute of Supply Management’s business survey committee. (Learn about ISM’s and other manufacturing leaders’ predictions for the 2022 manufacturing economy in our cover story.)
Members of the fabricated metal products sector are doing all they can to overcome any obstacles to growth, which includes workforce challenges.
For a couple of months in the fall of 2021, BIG KAISER (now BIG DAISHOWA) of Hoffman Estates, Ill., said it would donate 2 percent of every order from a National Tooling & Machining Association member company directly to the National Robotics League to support workforce development and STEM initiatives.
As for efforts focused on Industry 4.0 and beyond, Bosch Research has announced it will invest $3 million in a joint effort with Carnegie Mellon University to examine real-time digital twins and AR / VR /XR in manufacturing environments.
In October 2021, a golf fundraiser sponsored by Mid Atlantic Machinery, Harrisburg, Pa., raised $45,000 for the Metal Fabrication and Welding Technology Program at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster, Pa. “In today’s tight labor market, we all have to get involved to solve the talent crisis in the trades, not just complain about it,” explained Mid Atlantic Machinery President Kevin Kilgallen. The company is a machine tool, and fabrication equipment distributor. “Metal fabrication companies in the Mid-Atlantic states helped raise almost $50,000 in metal fabrication scholarships. We are beginning to tackle the problem head on. We all need to get involved to support our future.”
Recruitment and retention are certainly a challenge regardless of industry, noted Ross Boettcher, a representative of Kapco Metal Stamping in Grafton, Wis. The company is a contract manufacturer of metal components. “That’s why we continue to invest in high-quality technology and equipment that makes Kapco, and in turn our customers, as efficient and effective as possible in today’s environment. A big piece of that vision is automation.” The company continues to increase its automation manufacturing footprint to “apply the gifts and skills of our people in ways that help them to be their very best, while also maximizing the way we work and produce for our partners,” Boettcher pointed out.
The workforce-related efforts by these organizations and by shops and educators across the country, bode well toward developing the workforce required to support an expanding manufacturing economy. The fabricated metal products sector, which is among the nation’s top six manufacturing sectors, continues to enjoy a healthy expansion. The sector’s PMI rose above 55 percent in September 2020, remaining above 60 percent until a dip in September 2021, and bounced back above 60 percent in October 2021, according to figures ISM shared in November.
What is your shop prepared to do to engage in and benefit from the possibilities 2022 has to offer?
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