Metal Industry Trends

Metal manufacturers and fabricators adapt to changing times  

As the post COVID-19 era drags on, the metal fabrication and manufacturing industries continue to be impacted by ongoing uncertainty across the economy. The forces having the greatest impact on the industry are arguably the global supply chain disruption and acute, persistent labor shortages.   

With the METALCON industry tradeshow right around the corner, now is a great time to explore how the metal industry is adapting to these changing times. From our position as long-time supplier of marking, coding and automation solutions to the metal manufacturing, building products and fabrication industries, Matthews Marking Systems works closely with customers, partners and OEMs across the industry to prepare for what the future holds.  

Global disruptions drive reshoring  

On the heels of the massive disruption in global supply chains, government organizations and private enterprises alike have become keenly aware of the need to boost local production capabilities, build in supply chain resilience and fight off new challenges presented by global marketplaces. The pandemic along with trade disputes, higher overseas wages, and shipping delays are driving metal fabricators, as well as manufacturers in many other industries, to bring operations closer to customers. Of note, there are about 40% fewer transpacific ships sailing than originally scheduled, and rates have skyrocketed. 

Labor challenges spur automation

Despite persistent challenges and rising salaries, unemployment remains at historically low levels and we’re hearing from customers of all sizes that finding qualified workers is a constant challenge. To fill the gap, organizations – with the full support of the workforce – are turning to automation as a way to improve working conditions, increase output and productivity, and better serve customers. Automation is especially beneficial for repetitive tasks that don’t require human involvement. Further, since automation can help a company grow, its workforce will likely grow as well.  

The metal and building products manufacturers and fabricators who have seen the most success with automation are those who take a reasoned, incremental approach toward automation. Often this means working with suppliers who already bring a track record of success in the industry and are now adding automation capabilities. To achieve the full benefits of automation, new systems must reliably perform as expected and require low maintenance.  

Embracing new opportunities

The process of relocating operations, while certainly a major challenge, also opens up new opportunities to embrace automation and streamline operations using the latest and most advanced equipment and technology. In this way, the global supply chain disruption and labor shortages are deeply interconnected since they both point the way toward increased production efficiency, automation and ultimately lower costs.  

Working with the metal manufacturing and fabricating industries to boost efficiency and automation has been an important part of what Matthews Marking Systems has been doing since its inception over 170 years ago. We are skilled at building solutions tailored to industry requirements, helping increase productivity, reduce waste, and improve overall equipment efficiency (OEE). 

From the industry’s most reliable printing technology to high-temperature resistant inks to process-driven custom-engineered solutions, Matthews Marking Systems is a one-stop shop for printing directly on all types of metal. Our solutions are designed to withstand industrial environments so that QR codes, data matrix codes, barcodes, lot codes, traceability data, and all other marks remain visible for as long as they are needed. Our solutions feature the longest-life printheads in the industry – 9 billion firings before maintenance is required – that efficiently deliver crisp, clear marks with precise placement and timing. 

Setting up a new operation or optimizing an existing line takes time and can be highly complex. That’s why it’s critical to have suppliers such as Matthews who can provide a complete solution. In our case, you can depend on a single supplier for ink, equipment, service and support. We control all aspects of the print technology and ink formulation. And our MPERIA controller integrates easily with your backend systems to automate mark creation, placement and verification. 

METALCON 2022 banner

To see how we can put our experience and technical know-how to work for you, be sure to visit us at METALCON in Booth #413. If you’re not attending the show, check out this case study to see how Sierra Aluminum gained a 50% increase in line efficiency by switching to Matthew’s V-Series DOD inkjet printers with the MPERIA automation platform.  

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