Top 4 trends impacting the metal fabrication industry

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The metal fabrication industry has been more competitive than it has ever been. For this reason, many businesses in the sector will need to invest in technology, research, and development to expand their capabilities and stay ahead of the manufacturing market. As the global markets shift and change in the coming years, the metal fabrication industry will greatly benefit by maintaining an attitude of versatility, flexibility, and growth.

1. Reshoring

This seems to be the first trend that everyone picks up. In the metal fabrication market, “reshoring” refers to the trend of outsourced jobs and industries returning to the place from which they originated. Unlike other industries, which have flourished overseas, in recent years metal fabricating has participated in the reshoring trend. Due to the rising cost of global freight transportation, as well as increasing labor costs in many countries —such as China and India —many manufacturers have found that overseas operations are no longer as cost-effective as they once were. The resulting trend of reshoring has emerged in part as an antidote to these issues. Not only can reshoring save businesses money, in many cases, it also results in more oversight and opportunities for in-the-moment creativity and innovation.

2. Automation for metal fabrication

Automation isn’t necessarily a new trend, but its adoption is accelerating in response to the difficulties many metal fabrication companies have in recruiting skilled labor. As a result of emerging, innovative technologies like robotics, additive manufacturing and automation, many skilled workers and tradespeople are drawn to the metal fabrication industry like never before. Working in this industry is safer now than it ever has been in the past, with more opportunities for career training and progression. Much automation in the industry is performed by computer numerical control (CNC) machines. CNC machines can perform many repetitive tasks, and as such, they can play an important role in reducing, and in some cases eliminating some of the most common repetitive stress injuries that plague many employees. In addition, automation technology can increase overall productivity, efficiency, and high-quality as well as versatile outputs with nearly endless possibilities for customization. CNS machines are likely just the beginning for automation technological advances throughout the metal fabrication industry.

3. Digitization for metal fabrication

Like many industries, metal fabrication has been slow to adopt the digitization that is quickly defining the rest of the world. It’s essential to know that building a technology-based platform doesn’t mean eliminating the human factor. Rather, it’s a step in the right direction regarding efficiency and productivity.

Data-based decision-making is another key benefit of digitization. Technologies ERP systems allow manufacturers to assess the functionality and efficiency across nearly every aspect of their organizations. This information can support streamlining efforts and data sharing throughout both specific companies and the industry as a whole. The way that digitization practices are capable of gathering, measuring and analyzing data is crucial to ensuring the future of the metal fabrication industry — these metrics not only shine light onto overall efficiency, but they also allow for greater transparency when it comes to evaluating employees’ skills and overall productivity.

4. Cybersecurity for metal fabrication

As manufacturers incorporate more and more automation and digitization into their organizations, the need for cybersecurity has never been greater. ERP hacks can lead to breaches of sensitive information, from financials to productivity metrics and industry secrets.

There are several common tips that manufacturers can look to support the cybersecurity efforts of their organizations and manufacturing. Educating employees about common hacking tactics, like phishing, is a great first step. In addition, identifying the location of the company’s most important and/or sensitive information — and then securing and backing it up — can protect businesses from ransomware attacks. Likewise, manufacturers will benefit from disaster planning — essentially, the creation and implementation of a disaster protocol as it relates to cybersecurity. This will safeguard information in case of a cyberattack.

There are those businesses in the metal fabrication industry that are experiencing growth that is far outside of the average. Companies that fabricate aluminum, for instance, are seeing greater demand due to rising consumption, as are those that fabricate parts for automotive industry, commercial construction, and the aerospace sector. Essentially, there are still several incredible opportunities for growth; it’s simply a matter of staying nimble enough to adapt to what the market wants at any given time.

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