It is fully expected, when interest rates show signs of increasing that mainstream media highlights the potential pitfalls for business.
This type of press can cause panic and uncertainty among fabricators that rely heavily on bulk materials handling machinery and production plant space.
But realistically, through the ages, a cliché has proven itself to be correct each and every time there has been a global recession: many success stories are made during a recession.
Fabrication and jobbing shops contribute a strong percentage to the respective GDPs of Australia and New Zealand. Now, the fabrication and jobbing shops have the technology to leapfrog potential problems caused by recession and come out smiling on the other side.
According to Advanced Sheetmetal Technologies, for a large industry like the sheet metal fabrication sector, there is a fine, but distinct line separating those that are negatively impacted by a recession, and those that emerge successfully and geared for even more growth.
First of all, the industry has little to fear from an economic slump these days. Fear is natural because a downturn has always been damaging, but one no longer have to lobby for political assistance, as the technology within the own industry is now more than capable of positively aiding each and every fabricator.
The industry must avoid being drawn into an unrealistic frenzy. Automation technologies today, for cutting, shearing, punching and bending, indeed for complete, no-hands materials handling from start to dispatch, has changed the equation.
Not only can management and profits be maintained well during such lean times, wastage is reduced, staff is better deployed, inventory is kept to a minimum, safety is increased, and tax benefits are gained as well.
Advanced Sheetmetal Technologies is expanding now, with a software supply and support division, group training facilities, and seminar sessions to show users how to utilise technology.
For some time, production plants have weighed up costs and risks between infrastructure upgrades and maintaining status quo.
This, according to Advanced Sheetmetal Technologies, has normally been the tug-of-war driven purely by cost concerns of automation investment.
The difference nowadays is that top level, high-tech machinery is affordable, and this is the key, as it sets up a company with high efficiencies in the lead, up to any type of economic recession.
It means virtually no wastage, a much lower inventory, and a high level of OH&S, as the new generation technology is about completely hands-free, safe and guarded, injury is almost impossible.
With global technologies totally within reach of just about any jobbing shop and sheetmetal fabricator, a struggling business can instantly make a complete 180° turnaround.
Whereas, before it probably would have been operating on manual or semi-automatic equipment and experiencing average job turnarounds and quantities, it now has sophisticated machinery and capacity for more output than ongoing market demands, therefore, positioning a company for peak times rather than downturn.
For plants operating many jobs at any given time, scheduling becomes streamlined and less wasteful. Inventory control can be a lot tighter with smaller, controlled quantities, and software arranges many different jobs on the one blank sheet to almost eliminate wastage.
What the market is slowly realising is that investment in automation allows fabricators and jobbing shops to re-deploy staff into more productive duties, as machines do not need supervision any more, hence the employment base is up-skilled.
Even the fear of cost has all but been abolished. New technology acquired under a well structured lease plan allows significant tax benefits, which are crucial during lean years.
By the time any economic downturn has lifted, an operator will come out with expanded technologies in a well oiled plant to absorb a huge influx of ongoing work, in the years to come.