significantly affected by supply and demand— too much supply and too little demand. As mentioned earlier, a weak demand globally for energy products is due to the slowdown in economic global growth. With weak demand comes a lower price, which equals lower profits, which causes resource and monetary reductions. Mining and metals falls into a similar pattern where precious metals are negatively affected when global economies slow down and consumers stop buying. The need for iron, copper, lead – and let us not count out the precious metals gold, silver, rhenium, ruthenium, etc., which
are used in the manufacturing of heavy products, as well as electronic, plating, and coatings – all suffer with weak economies. LANGRO: Clearly the U.S. oil and gas industry has faced many challenges with the current low price of oil. This has cut into extraction and minimized the need for equipment. The print industry continues to be negatively impacted by digital media platforms, which further reduces equipment needs. The packaging industry remains quite stable in growth as packagers look at how to make packaging lighter and reduce waste. The gains
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throughout the supply chain from this can be significant and has been an incentive for machine builders to improve their equipment offerings. Also, automation in the medical lab market continues to grow as the demand rises for new drugs and diagnostic testing. The constant flow of new products and technology in consumer electronics has created shorter product lifecycles and increased the demand for highly automated yet flexible machines. Another industry with a backlog of orders is the airline industry. The opportunity is available for automation to increase the productivity of these manufacturers. HARMEYER: Automation is growing. With the increase in healthcare costs gripping many manufacturers, they are looking to automate manufacturing processes to support growth while maintaining a level workforce volume.
PENNY: Manufacturing faces increased regulation and compliance measures. Regulations can be a huge burden to manufacturing companies, especially small and medium enterprises that perhaps don’t have the money or resources to implement any required changes. Even for larger organizations, regulations may vary from country to country, which may prove challenging. More than ever before, manufacturers must ensure total visibility throughout their supply chain for their own compliance and that of their suppliers. Regulations often require the ability to track items and materials used during the full manufacturing process. This can be time-consuming work. Awareness of relevant regulations, managing compliance reporting, and traceability is an ongoing challenge for manufacturers, and many companies now dedicate whole teams to stay ahead of new rules and ensure the necessary paper trails are in place. With innovation and product development being key to any successful manufacturer to stay ahead of the competition, it may be tempting to compromise on quality. Manufacturers must be stringent and avoid cutting corners at all costs. Implementing procedures that maintain a steady flow of new ideas in the pipeline is essential to success. WYREMBELSKI: One challenge is to have a workforce available to grow technical industries because, in the next 5 to 10 years, many of the skilled trades and technology workforce will retire. Another is to stay ahead of the Internet of Things. We need to be educated and be willing to proactively join the conversation. LANGRO: Aside from the political uncertainty in the U.S. hampering business decisions, the technology challenges are coming from two directions. One major challenge is how to bring the potential of smart manufacturing or the Industrial
Fluid Power Journal Manufacturers Directory 2016