The State of the Metal Forming Industry Today
Industries in the metal forming sub-sector transform metal into end or intermediate products, other than computers and electronics, metal furniture, and machinery. They also treat metals and metal products that have been fabricated elsewhere. Main processes in the metal forming sector include forging, bending, stamping, and machining – used to shape metal pieces; and assembling and welding used in joining metal parts.
Continued upturn in business
Going by recent reports, the metal forming industry in the U.S. has recorded continued upturn in business since the Great Recession ended in late 2009. Orders for 2011 were 8% more than those for 2010 and shipment increased by 11% over the same period. Further gains were made in the 2011 to 2012 period with orders increasing by 6% while shipment increased by 5%. Employment within the sector also rose by an average 4.3% with 34% of companies having openings for skilled workers.
Metal prices are also going down thanks to a more stable economy. Prices have gone down by as much as 50% since 2011 which has greatly contributed to the upturn in business. High nickel steel alloys and copper are the only metals whose prices haven’t changed much. On the flip side, prices of scrap metal have dropped to the benefit of scrap metal dealers.
The metal forming industry has embraced technology in several areas but industry leaders feel there is so much more that metal forming can gain from computerization and related technology. For instance, Enterprise Resource Planning can reduce cost of operations by up to 44% and greatly increases mobility. A number of companies (estimated at 35%) are now providing front-line employees with mobile devices to capitalize on this mobility and to improve worker collaboration.
Some of the benefits of these mobile devices include asset tracking, processing of electronic work orders, maintenance scheduling, instant inventory counts, error proofing, and real-time usage and delivery among others.
The future looks bright for the metal forming industry. The economy is still not as strong as you would wish but there is hope that this will improve in the near future. Access to capital especially among small operators which has been an issue for a long time also seems to be improving. There is so much to look forward to.