Wes-Tech recently exhibited at the North American Die Casting Association’s Congress & Tabletop in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As we’ve noted before, the die casting industry as a whole is forecasted for some major growth in the coming years.
However, success is never guaranteed in any domain without forethought and action. At the event, we noted four significant areas where the die cast industry is focusing efforts to achieve their projected growth. These efforts can be furthered when paired with industrial automation, which streamlines production processes, reduces supply-chain risk, supplements hard-to-find labor, and gives die casting companies new ability to expand their profit margins.
The die casting industry continues to look for new best practices by:
1. Investing in Alternative Materials and Methods
From lightweighting to 3D printing, the die casting industry is seeking to reduce its own production costs and to respond to end-user demands for exceptional final product performance. To that end, industrial automation is a capital investment with well-established return-on-investment. It maximizes throughput while minimizing scrap and waste, meaning it implements methods that allow die casters to get the most out of their two most valuable resources—their time and materials.
Streamlined production processes also help ensure die cast parts are the pieces that manufacturers need them to be—at the time they need them—which helps ensure the best final product possible and gives buyer confidence in their supply-chain partner.
2. Strategizing the Supply Chain
The availability and accessibility of die cast parts is no small concern for manufacturers, and the die casting industry is aware of this fact. Die casters are more attractive to buyers when they can demonstrate supply-chain resilience, which has become a critical issue within the ever-changing, post-COVID supply chain landscape. Hence, die casters are trying to live up to buyer expectations of faster response times, higher quality, and even—given numerous reshoring efforts—demonstrated benefits to the local/national economy.
By aiding the die cast part production process, industrial automation helps die casters have superior management of their inventory. For instance, industrial automation can enhance ERP integration with part production for better control and flexibility. Also, with industrial automation’s nuanced production processes, die casters can cut down on excess inventory and move toward a just-in-time/made-to-order business model.
Regarding quality, industrial automation ensures consistency in quality above and beyond manual processes by removing the possibility of mistakes caused by human error and by performing tasks the same way every time. Because automated systems handle these complex tasks, die casters can be confident not only in the speed of their deliverables but also in the quality—their products will be delivered with fewer defects for higher customer satisfaction.
All these features combined give die casters a “home team advantage” thanks to the reshoring initiatives of many manufacturers and their desire to find reliable suppliers close to home.
3. Shifting Die Casting Career Focus
Unlike our first two observations on recent trends in the die casting industry, our third observation is more personal in that it has to do with die casters themselves and their own career choices. Labor shortages across manufacturing have demonstrated that job seekers, including those in die casting, are avoiding dangerous, dirty, or menial jobs and, instead, are pursuing technology-driven concepting, testing, and implementation jobs. These “higher level” jobs not only further their careers but also allow them to contribute to the development of innovative solutions.
By working on technology-driven roles, job seekers can leverage their skills and knowledge to create new products, improve existing processes, and drive innovation in the industry. These roles offer opportunities for growth, learning, and making a meaningful impact on the future of die casting. By supplementing labor with industrial automation—especially the mundane or dangerous jobs that no one wants—die casters drive their business forward by creating safer, cleaner work environments that free up the possibility for technology-oriented job positions and increased employee retention.
4. Finding New Ways of Increasing Profitability and Staying Competitive
Die casting is a time-honored industry, but growth and developments in the automotive, aerospace, and consumer electronics industries behoove die casters to differentiate themselves and take steps to secure their future. Industrial automation empowers the die casting industry with options for huge “value-adds” that will make them stand out for their capabilities, provide them with real competitive advantages, and allow them to increase profit margins in an industry perpetually challenged by thin margins. These value-adds include post-cast processes that die casters do not often perform in-house, like secondary machining, final assembly, and packaging.
In terms of secondary machining, industrial automation can be used to remove excess material from a die cast piece to create a desired detail, such as threading or holes, or to mill a surface so the part is ready for sealing. From there, flexible and scalable automation solutions can assemble components into a finished product, and automated packaging can integrate with the entire process for well-protected and efficient shipping.
If you want to learn more about how to widen your profit margins with industrial automation, contact us today for a free consultation.