As the global recovery begins to pick up some speed (maybe still in first gear, but looking for a change into second), thoughts have to turn to where the growth is coming from for the CNC machining sector.
Major industry in general has had mixed experiences during the troubles and it appears that some parts of the car industry have only now released that there has been a global slump. To many folk, Ford’s highly publicized European re-structuring looks like an long overdue decision which smacks of closing the stable door way after the horse has bolted and then immediately opening it again.
Many of the blue-chip engineering firms survive on large infrastructure projects which are planned years ahead and these insulate them against much of the effects of a downturn. The problem is, that this cushioning effect runs out over a long depression and once the big projects dry-up, the effects are like a Tsunami wave down the food chain.
But there are now firm indicators that the big boys are expecting some action.
A large pointer came from Nuclear Engineering Services (NES) which has just invested in four large CNC machines as they gear up for the nuclear and defense industries.
The company said in a statement that the investment in equipment, which includes a ten metre bed travelling CNC milling machine, is part of their ambition to create a world class manufacturing facility.
However, few companies can afford such investments unless they know that orders are around the corner. NES are obviously gearing up towards an expanding nuclear commitment from the UK Government as well as increased orders from a defense industry which always appears to have a bright future, giving the world’s conflicts.
Another pointer comes from Texas, a state in the US the size of France and one which newly re-elected President Barack Obama hopes will be in the forefront of his country’s recovery.
Here the trade association American Machine Shops Machine is heavily promoting its latest members which include CNC forming and CNC machining clients. Trade Associations are good at promoting their members’ interests naturally, but there is a genuine sense that US core manufacturing is on the way back, not least because energy costs are coming down with the availability of shale gas.
No-one welcomes a recession, but the engineering sector knows, as well as others, that it tends to sort the men out from the boys and as recovery sets in, the companies left standing are a lot leaner, fitter and meaner than when they went into the dark times.
The nuclear and defense industries will likely be in the vanguard of recovery, but they won’t be alone in driving recovery. The CNC machining sector is starting the climb back up the slope and orders will come from across a range of industries, leading to a sustained, albeit gradual period of growth.
Harry Barrett is a Director of McKinlay Electrical Ltd, an UK based engineering company which specialises in Mould Making, Resin Casting, Coil Winding and CNC Machining.