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Only half the metal sector says industry-wide productivity is increasing

Posted on 27 Nov 2023 and read 935 times
Only half the metal sector says industry-wide productivity is increasingOnly half (50%) of those working in the metal industry say productivity levels in the sector are increasing with some of the largest challenges behind this being not embracing technology (47%) and tight profit margins (46%), according to new research conducted by SAIT Abrasives, the specialist manufacturer of bonded and coated abrasives for industrial use.

The company wanted to understand the extent to which current industry challenges are affecting productivity in the metalworking sector, as it embarks on its own initiatives to support its end-users and distributors. Staff retention (45%), a lack of innovation (45%), an unskilled workforce (34%), and supply reliability (29%) were also identified as challenges impacting productivity.

Chris Ingman, managing director at SAIT Abrasives, said: “The industry has been hit with numerous challenges over the past few years so it is perhaps not surprising to see from our research that for some, productivity levels are struggling. Speaking to end-users, at SAIT, we are finding some of the biggest concerns our customers face are around improving cycle times, reducing costs and reducing labour time which all play into productivity.

“Many sectors are looking to new innovations and future ways of working such as artificial intelligence (AI) and tech to help increase efficiency levels. While these are important considerations, we have found that stripping things back to basics and focusing on people has been one of the most effective tools. For example, when speaking to end users and visiting their sites, we often spot opportunities to help them increase productivity, and this can sometimes be for challenges they did not even realise could be done more efficiently.”

Shopfloor expectations

Steve Clements, managing director at East Coast Sales Ltd, a specialist single-source distributor who has been working with SAIT to provide surface finishing solutions to the metalworking industry, added: “We find that it is vital to have a two-way working relationship with the end user. By taking the time to look at processes and requirements from both managerial and more importantly shopfloor expectations, it is easier to achieve improved performance and better processes.

SAIT Abrasives“By challenging the concept of ‘we have always done it this way’ it is possible to improve efficiency, reduce cost in use and at the same time foster trust with the end-user. This is one of the reasons our partnership with SAIT Abrasives has been so productive for almost three decades. We always start from what is the end-user trying to achieve and therefore what is the best product for the task in hand. If this results in process changes, SAITs technical team are on-hand to explain what has changed and why.”

Despite the challenges affecting productivity, almost half (47%) said that investing in upskilling is a priority for their business in the next 12 months and a further half (44%) said that this investment into training is helping to increase productivity.

Mr Ingman concluded: “Our research shows that those in the industry are proactive when adapting to the challenges they face. At SAIT, we have seen firsthand the benefits of collaborating with the supply chain and end-users, this has helped us remain resilient but it has also ensured we provide tailored support to those we work with, increasing productivity on both sides of the coin.

“Stripping things back to basics and collaborating across the supply chain delivers undeniable benefits and in the race to innovate and improve, we must not forget this as an essential piece to the puzzle.”

Read the full insights from the survey on SAIT UK’s blog here.