For North American manufacturers, the last five years could best be described as a roller-coaster ride. From a seemingly solid business climate in 2008, through the deep recession of 2009, we are now riding on a three-year uptick toward stability. The outlook for the next three years holds promise as well, presenting additional opportunities for moderate growth, particularly in the automotive market.
In North America, large investments are being made by U.S., European and Asian automotive OEMs that will support a steady demand for injection molds and stamping dies. These investment decisions are being driven by the increasing competitiveness of North American manufacturing.
Today, North American tool and mold manufacturers are discovering and investing in the modern keys to global competitiveness: state-of-the-art processes, high-performance machining technologies and automation. These investments in new equipment and specialized engineering, combined with the creativity and ingenuity of many tool makers, have improved the profitability of even the most complex tools and molds.
For many tool and mold manufacturers, one of the most significant game-changing technologies for combating global competition and skilled labor shortages has been automation. In this issue of Competitive Mold Maker, we feature two such companies. By investing in stable, accurate and highly repeatable machining technologies, STRATTEC Security and MGS Mfg. Group built the foundations for highly flexible automated manufacturing systems with capabilities far exceeding those of simple single-machine robotic cells. Through these investments, both companies have dynamically changed the capacity and flexibility of their shop floor, resulting in dramatic improvements to throughput, flexibility and quality. And while these companies might be the first to admit that adapting to an automated environment wasn’t an overnight adjustment, their performance and profitability speak for themselves.
These customers are prime examples of how North American tool, die and mold manufacturers are growing their business and improving their performance to make what matters. I hope their stories will inspire you to do the same.