It’s the time of year where predictions about the new year abound. And while the fabrication and manufacturing industry may not be subject to the rapid change or massive ups and downs of other sectors, there are still trends set to influence these industries over the coming year. What follows is the first of two articles regarding what fabricators can expect to see in 2019.
Growth prediction for 2019 vs. 2018
According to a report from Transparency Market Research, the global metal fabrication market is expected to rise to around $23B by 2026. This will likely be due to several factors, including increased usage of ERP tools (the result of greater capacity and therefore, productivity, due to gains in efficiency), additional demand from construction and automotive companies, increased urbanization in developing countries, continuing advances in automation. For North America, specifically, the metal fabrication market is predicted to expand at a CAGR of 4% for the same time period.
Need for skilled workers/labor shortage
While steady growth for the metal fabrication industry is expected over the next decade, there are various influences that may hinder that growth if not addressed in a timely manner. One of the major factors will be training and recruiting the skilled labor force necessary to keep fabricators on a growth trajectory. In fact, a recent report from FABTECH stated that there will be approximately 90,000 open welding jobs alone that will need to be filled around the U.S. by 2024. This doesn’t take into consideration the other positions in fabrication that require skilled workers, such as machinists and other operators. While there are community colleges and technical training programs that are starting to address this issue, the reality is that many more training opportunities will be needed in the near future in order to ensure a healthy metal fabrication and manufacturing workforce that is able to grow with the industry’s needs.
Tariffs and Trade in 2019
When Donald Trump enacted tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum last March, it sent shockwaves rippling through the manufacturing community. These tariffs then resulted in the affected countries placing tariffs on US-made goods. This back-and-forth is generally referred to as the start of a “trade war,” something the vast majority of economists believe to be a no-win situation for everyone involved.
These tariffs will continue to affect the steel and aluminum manufacturing industries in 2019, but to what degree is still fairly unknown as the initial effects are still trickling down. For example, some fabricators were just beginning to feel the impact of the tariffs in the third and fourth quarters of 2018, when supply became an issue for them.
Others, such as EVS Metal, reacted quickly to the tariffs by informing customers early on about potential increases in costs which would need to be passed down. EVS’ historically strong relationships with its customer base paid many dividends here in the form of assumed goodwill on the company’s part. Says EVS Metal VP and co-founder, Joe Amico, “Most of our customers understood that there were going to be [price] increases as [the tariffs] came about. They trusted us to do the legwork in order to find every possible way to minimize the increases while finding new opportunities for savings.”
Industry 4.0 is another tech buzzword that is still at the forefront of the manufacturing world. From the integration of Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled machines, to the implementation of Big Data analytics, finding new ways to increase efficiency while reducing costs through the use of smart technologies is one of the major themes we can expect to see through 2019 and beyond.
Trends in Technology for 2019
As discussed last week, the skills gap will be a continuing problem for metal fabricators. While many technical skills training academies and community colleges have started to try and help fill that gap by offering more programs in high-demand areas such as welding, there is simply no way for the number of graduates to keep up with the industry’s need. This means that many companies are considering or have already invested in various forms of automation on their shop floors in order to continue to grow their capacity and along with it, their companies overall.
EVS Metal is an American precision metal fabricator headquartered in Riverdale, NJ. We utilize the latest technology to cut, bend, weld and finish stand-alone items as well as parts for integration or assembly into more complex products. Our four ISO 9001:2015-certified locations comprise over 250,000 square feet of vertically-integrated manufacturing space and feature the most modern equipment available, from welding robots and laser cutting solutions to automated powder coating lines.
We serve a diverse customer base across North America, providing a range of services from ITAR-compliant, quick-turn prototypes to high-volume production runs. Request a personalized metal fabrication quote online, or call (973) 839-4432 to speak with a specialist today.