With the developing world driving such a powerful demand for steel, one expected development is that the price of this raw material will rise.
Such a prospect does create a sense of concern among sheetmetal fabricators because many are operating on tight profit margins as it is.
The Macquarie Bank forecast in 2006 that total world steel production will grow at an annual rate of 5.8 percent to 2010, with China increasing its share to 40 percent by then.
So the markets in Australia and New Zealand are braced for price increases. Yet price rise expectations have led to another development which holds positives for the industry.
Automation specialist, Advanced Sheetmetal Technologies , is experiencing a greater enquiry rate for technology since this announcement by the Macquarie Bank.
According to AST, for a long time a large part of the fabrication market saw automation as an unaffordable threat. Yet in recent times, opinions have changed and this is primarily because automation offers a comprehensive transparency of costs and profit projections that were never possible with manual manufacturing.
A significant portion of interested newcomers can be bracketed into the entry-level market.
Shears, punching machines, bending machines, machining centres and general materials handling fit-outs out are now far more cost efficient for those looking at entry-level acquisition that the fear of automation is starting to subside.
Fabricators have become more realistic. With awareness of what China is doing and how much material it is consuming, plus all the major construction in the Middle East and what is already being used by the rest of the developed world, fabricators are now favouring the cost certainties of automation.
Not only do these machines allow complete scheduling and for them accurate job time allocation, the cost of running a machine as well as the profits made in fabrication can be clearly calculated before any investment is made.
It is this cost factor management that really has caught the eye of the fabrication market.
Adoption of automation is quickly helping Australia gain respect around the world as a modernised nation for sheetmetal fabrication and as a top level supplier of niche quantity OEM goods.