Metal manufacturing must continue to embrace advanced technologies to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and potentially open new markets, CMTDA president Marc Hasrouny advised in his address to the association's 81st Annual General Meeting.
Metal manufacturing in Canada stands at a pivotal moment, Canadian Machine Tool Distributors’ Association (CMTDA) president Marc Hasrouny warned in his address to the association’s 81st Annual General Meeting last night and the best way to face the looming uncertainty is by committing to agility, adaptability and to “thinking bigger.”
The landscape the industry must maneuver through is defined by persistent labor and skills shortages, persistent inflation, high interest rates and a concerning lack of investment in new technologies. Hasrouny said. These factors, in turn, are contributing to a weakening of industry productivity and competitiveness on both national and global scales.
“Continuing the same trend of the last two quarters of 2022, the first six months of this year were reminiscent of a drought, with dwindling sales and a pervasive sense of uncertainty. Financing became a daunting hurdle, interest rates soared, and the prices of equipment remained significantly high,” Hasrouny noted. “This confluence of factors faded the momentum that had been building in the wake of the pandemic.”
Looking ahead to 2024, Hasrouny, worried that “uncertainty looms like a shadow.” The rising cost of manufacturing in Canada caused by surging industrial rents, continued shortages of skilled labor forcing higher salaries, and increasing operational expenses are all contributing to a complex and demanding business environment, he said.
Far too many machine shops rely on aging technology and poor efficiency. We must think bigger, setting our sights on efficiency, better technology, and automation. Survival in the long-term hinges on this shift in mentality, says CMTDA president Marc Hasrouny.
“In response to these challenges, the suggestion to shift towards specialization and higher technologies is a strategic move,” he advised. “I believe we will all need to further embrace advanced technologies to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and potentially open new markets. Specialization allows companies to carve out a niche and become experts in a particular area, which can be a competitive advantage.”
This could involve incorporating smart technologies, automation, or data analytics to streamline operations and improve customer experiences. Moreover, a thorough analysis of company cost structure and supply chain planning may reveal opportunities for optimization. This might involve renegotiating contracts, seeking alternative suppliers, or exploring cost-sharing initiatives within the industry, Hasrouny advised. In addition to technological advancements, Hasrouny urged his peers to consider investing in employee training and development to address the shortage of skilled labor. Building a skilled and adaptable workforce can contribute to long-term sustainability and competitiveness, he emphasized.
“As we navigate the uncertainties of the coming year, staying agile and adaptable will be crucial,” Hasrouny said. “Regularly reassess your business strategy in light of market dynamics and be ready to pivot when necessary. Engage with industry associations and stay informed about market trends and regulatory changes that may impact your business. In challenging times, businesses that proactively address issues, embrace innovation, and strategically position themselves in the market are better positioned to not only weather the storm but also thrive in the long run.”
Hasrouny also warned against relying on the same strategies that served well in the past. They may not suffice for the future, he said.
“The key lies in modernizing machine shops and making manufacturing in our country a compelling choice. Far too many machine shops rely on aging technology and poor efficiency. Compared to other established markets and even emerging markets like Turkey and India, Canada is behind in new technology investments,” Hasrouny said. “We must think bigger, setting our sights on efficiency, better technology, and automation. Survival in the long-term hinges on this shift in mentality.”
The revival of Canada’s manufacturing sector is not just about economic growth, however, Hasrouny argued. It’s also about securing Canada’s prosperity for generations to come.
He concluded his remarks by urging all CMTDA members to share their insights and contribute to the formulation of a strategy that will shape the future of Canadian manufacturing.