Materials joining and forming are critical to manufacturing. There are numerous joining and forming techniques, including: arc fusion and solid state welding; soldering; brazing; adhesive bonding; and mechanical fastening. New materials and products mean that joining and forming are increasingly technologically sophisticated and complicated.
Complications include the following:
- Many manufacturers are having difficulty incorporating and developing these new methodologies and materials and are looking for help to do this.
- Manufacturers generally feel that they lack knowledge about recent technological advances and how to incorporate them into their manufacturing processes and products.
Joining and forming manufacturers concur that a skilled workforce has recently become a critical issue for manufacturers:
- The current workforce is aging and retiring at the same time that technical demands of the work are changing.
- Firms have difficulty gaining access to workers at all levels, entry to professional
- Many workers have inadequate science/math skills
- Those entering the workforce from universities have too theoretical of an education.
- The number of engineering and skilled-trades workers available are not keeping up with demand.
Though automation can address some of the shortage of unskilled labor and easing foreign national restrictions will help, the skilled-labor shortage needs to be addressed.
The other issue that manufacturers identified is that the industry codes and standards can actual hinder the adoption of innovations. For many manufacturers that run small production batches incorporating innovations into this process may be cost prohibitive.