In spite of the current formidable challenges facing job shops, Peter Matysiak, president of Emuge Corp. is upbeat about their future. In an interview with American Machinist, he outlined why he’s so optimistic:
“These are ingenious and resourceful people,” Matysiak said.
“It is the very nature of American job shops to rise to the challenge of finding new business as traditional markets change or shrink. For example, many shops serving the struggling automotive sector have been successful in pursuing new business in other markets that are on the upswing.
“Emerging energy markets such as solar and wind turbines offer new opportunities, as do the expanding powergeneration, aerospace and medical fields. Thanks to Internet communications, shops can successfully service customers anywhere. For instance, it is not uncommon for valve parts for a Texas oilfield to be made in a shop in Michigan.”
Many shops are seeing a resurgence of business that went overseas as customers become disillusioned with poor quality, unresponsive service and logistic delays.
Another almost universal challenge is to find, train and retain highly skilled machinists. In addition to knowledge of machining and tooling, operators need to have considerable computer skills to work with today’s sophisticated equipment. “Although apprenticeship programs have almost disappeared in recent years, we may see a revival of these programs as a way to train skilled machinists,” said Matysiak.
Although it is sometimes difficult to capitalize expanded capabilities, forward-looking shops have invested in sophisticated machine tools and equipment to stay competitive. “I think job shops face the toughest competitive environment in manufacturing, and they must quickly respond to customer needs with quality parts and dependable service,” noted Matysiak. “Successful shops operate lean, employ skilled machinists, are highly productive and know how to squeeze every penny out of each job.”