nel skills on staff to apply the new capabilities; 9.4% responded that they do not see any value in simulation; and 6.25%were unaware of simulation technology that is applicable totheir particular circumstances. Apart from these 12.5% attributed their lack of simulating capability to “all of the above.
Some “Other” explanations for not adopting simulation technologies include the time required to apply theanalysis and evaluate results; that forging super-alloy materials is a very complex undertaking that involves a seriesof control parameters; while some confirmed their operations are currently evaluating an adoption of Big Dataresources.
Still, the steady increase in adoption of these capabilities must be seen as proof of the engagement that forgers have with emerging technologies. It’s also true that anumber of the “significant problems” identified for forging operations might be addressed or minimized by theapplication of Big Data resources, such as “energy costs”( 18.0% of all 2020 respondents), on-time delivery of forgings ( 11.5%), and EPA requirements ( 8.2%.)
It’s important to note too that analytical technologieshave advanced considerably in the past five years, andcontinue to add more capabilities based on the collection,analysis, and implementation of process data to production processes. Whatever needs or limitations have prevented forgers from embracing analytical or simulationcapabilities up to now, an increase in the number of forging adoptees is surely ahead, and that is to be encouraged.
A broader picture
A new year customarily invites new approaches or
strategies. The survey invited forging respondents to iden-
tify how to address the skills shortage in the sector: 25.8%
see the positive results from “increased availability of
qualified workers,” while 24.2% recognize the problem as
the “inability to retain current workers.”
A further 24.2% identified the problem as a lack of
programs to train and grow the workforce (internships,
scholarships, etc.); and 14.5% have concern for the lack of
continuing education and/or training for the current work-
force. Some respondents’ 2021 spending plans appear set
to address that point.
Finally, we inquired of respondents which customer sectors — i.e., which supply chains — offer the mostpromise for their forging operation. The largest cohort,28.8%, recognize the aircraft and aerospace componentsmarket (currently very much in recession due to the effectsof COVID-19) as the most important for their business,while 21.2% of respondents see automotive components(other than engine parts) as their path forward.
19 NEWEQUIPMENT.COM I NOVEMBER 2020FORGING INDUSTRY
s Coil Repair, Design, and Replacement
s Retrofits of Existing Systems
s Replacement Parts for most OEM’s
s Preventative Maintenance Service
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s Used / Rebuilt Furnace Systems
and Power Supplies
s Water Cooling and Recirculating Systems
s All Induction OEM’s Serviced
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“Some governments support their industry — which brings market
imbalance. The domestic forging sector will need good governmentsupport in terms of tariffs and financial packages, too …”
“We struggle to gain entry to the electric vehicle sector:there are very few forged components required in thosemanufacturing programs, so we must find alternatives thatdemand forged products,” one respondent explained.
Another added: “Growth in the electric vehicles sector will certainly impact the forging industry in the future,so product diversification into non-automotive segmentsshould get priority.”
Forgers’ business outlook for 2021 must be consideredguarded optimism, according to the survey results. Theproblems are clear: some are ongoing, like the need forequipment replacement, and especially the need to trainand retain skilled engineers and workers.
Other problems lie undefined, like a virus or a suddentrade disruption, which would impact demand for forgingsand limit producers ability to navigate the supply chaintoward their own, their customers’, and their stakeholders’growth prospects. That they foresee better results in 2021is proof of their confidence and determination to rely ontheir individual and technological abilities that are thestrength of the forging industry.