This is the time of year to look back and prepare for the future. There is value in reviewing the successes and mistakes of the past year and in looking at where opportunities may lie in the future. This has been a good year in metal fabrication and manufacturing and we head into 2019 with optimism. Here are some of the trends we expect to shape not only the next year but the future of our industry.

Increased Use of Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology has been proven effective in digital currency like BitCoin and others and is proving effective in verifying and validating the manufacturing process along each step. Large corporations like WalMart are using it to very items like produce to track issues and recalls like the recent Romaine lettuce problems. It will become increasingly used to validate every step of the production process and the vendors who are involved. To put it simply, Blockchain makes it possible to track the DNA of the production process. We discussed the use of Blockchain technology and metal fabrication in a previous article.

The Continued Resurgence of the RV Industry

The recreational vehicle industry really hit its stride in 2018 and indications are that will continue. At Wiley Metal, we are fortunate to have some of the strongest partners in the industry at our side. We are fortunate to help Baby Boomers who are ready to hit the road as part of their retirement while assisting younger Millennials discover the freedom of the RV lifestyle. Campgrounds just may be the original “social media” and we are helping our partner clients achieve new levels of creating “friends” and “likes” in the industry. On some level, it brings great satisfaction to us knowing we are helping connect people in some small way and assisting others in achieving their long-term goals.

Increasing Demands for Steel and Aluminum

Demands in the automotive, construction, aerospace and other industry are certainly going to bring increasing demands in the steel and aluminum industries. Politics and policy aside, those of us in manufacturing and metal fabrication are going to have to deal with volatile costs of the raw materials that are used in our industry. The good news is that our competitors are having to deal with the same volatility and reality. Smart companies who are prepared will win.

Embracing AI

Artificial Intelligence is still in its infancy in metal fabrication and industrial production, not so much in that it is not valuable, but it is slow to being embraced. This is an issue that should be addressed in the coming year. There is so many repeatable tasks that can be handled and improved upon by Artificial Intelligence and robotics that can provide incredible efficiencies.

Prepared, Smart Companies will Win

The bottom line is that like most years, the companies who are best prepared, take proactive initiatives and embrace technology will likely achieve more in the year and years ahead. These are the steps we are attempting to take at Wiley Metal.

We have hired a Continuous Improvement Manager and Quality Manager to increase our focus on Process Management and Root Cause Analysis. We continue to embrace new technology including robotics and the digital elements that are affecting our industry. As we wrap up 2018 and enjoy our successes, we can’t lose sight of potential pitfalls. We also can’t allow these potential pitfalls from keeping us to move boldly forward.