We are at the start of a New Year and we are at the start of a new period of economic recovery. And since this is also my first column like this in MoldMaking Technology magazine, I can think of a more auspicious time to share with you my thoughts about the emerging trends and market forces that will drive demand for molds and tooling in the coming months and years. I will provide more specifics in future columns, but for now, I want to give an overview of where I believe we are headed and topics that will dominate the economic and market analyses for U.S. manufacturers in 2010.
I could fill a whole book trying to describe the dominant role that energy will play in the global economy in the 21st century. And I am convinced that a substantial portion of the long-term solution to our energy needs will have to be manufactured. There will be increasing pressure to develop new ways to produce, consume and transmit energy. We will have to become more efficient, and to be more efficient, we will have to become more informed. Therefore, you will need to read more than just this column or this magazine to stay abreast of all of the market developments pertaining to energy that affect moldmakers, but at least that is a start.
There is a growing debate about whether the human race is responsible for global climate change, and if it is, what should be done about it. I cannot yet predict which side, or if any side, is right. But I can predict that this debate will intensify in 2010. It will also have an increasing effect, good or bad, on the consumption patterns of consumers and on the policy making activities of governments. And buzzwords such as sustainability, cap and trade, carbon footprint and zero emissions will be used more frequently in marketing efforts. So no matter what end-market your tools are sold into (transportation, packaging, construction, electronics, medical, etc.), and no matter what raw materials you use to make these tools, the effect this industry has on the environment is going to come under increasing scrutiny.
For several years, moldmakers have told me that the lack of qualified personnel is one of the biggest threats to the future viability of the industry. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the lack of qualified personnel is one of the biggest threats to the future viability of the entire country. There is a clear trend toward more people with more needs and more problems, but what is not clear is whether there are enough people with the right education and training to be able to meet this trend. So the need for more education seems obvious. We need to develop more qualified people in the manufacturing sector, and we need to supply these people with more products and tools that they can use to meet the needs and solve the problems that are emerging.
So there they are. The three Es that will dominate the Economy this year, and for many years to come. You may not agree with all of the problems, solutions and trends that will emerge, but be aware that these trends will create opportunities for all segments of the North American manufacturing sector. We will try to make you aware of some of these opportunities in future columns. And rest assured that while the road ahead is not likely to be Easy, it can still be Exciting.