Latest Tooling Barometer

An Automotive Tooling Barometer survey series was created by the OESA Tooling Forum and Harbour Results, Inc. to provide an indicator of the current state of the automotive tooling industry as well as near-term prospects for the industry. It latest survey reports that tool and die shops are investing in the future and plan to hire more apprentices in the next year.


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The focus of the fourth Automotive Tooling Barometer (sponsored by Die Cad Group and Expert Tech) was the skilled workforce gap and possible solutions. The survey results indicate that the mean age across all tool shops polled is 43, shops are planning to hire apprentices in the next 12 months and are outsourcing to deal with the skills gap. Nearly 40 percent of shops report they may contract out simulation, design, finish or rough machining in the next 12 months.

The Barometer also showed a collective Tooling Sentiment Index (TSI) at an all time high of 73. This indicates a positive outlook for the automotive tooling supplier industry and an increase of 35 percent since the May Barometer. This may be attributed to an increase in progressive payment terms and a five percent increase in capacity utilization. 

Tool and die jobs on hold was down 3 percent to 12 percent. Laurie Harbour, president and CEO of HRI says, “Although it shows improvement, we still estimate the impact to be roughly $1.4 billion or 55 tool shops sitting idle at any given time.”

Julie A. Fream, president and CEO of OESA says that the August Tooling Barometer shows the flexibility of the industry. "It is adapting to market changes by meeting short-term capacity through outsourcing. However, in order to continue to have a strong tool and die manufacturing capability in the NAFTA region, it is critical that these shops develop and retain new talent through apprenticeship-type programs.”