A new year brings new changes. Some will be surprises, but some won’t be – especially for grinding machinery owners and operators who recognize the trends already at play in their industries.
Three forces in particular look to have major impacts and likely will fuel an already increasing demand for further automated grinding systems.
Shrinking Generation X
Current statistics indicate that there are 9 million fewer U.S. residents between the primary working ages of 31 and 52 (generally dubbed Generation X) than among Baby Boomers. Combine that with a 4.7% unemployment rate, and it’s easy to see that there are far fewer people available to run centerless grinders or ID grinders or any kind of machinery, for that matter.
The Millennial generation will provide a boost to workforce numbers, but, with an age span between 13 and 30, it will be a decade at least until all of its members are fully employable.
Some grinding operations strive to keep Baby Boomers, with their great wealth of knowledge and experience, working past retirement age, but this is only a temporary fix. We need to come to grips now with the fact that the potential for future growth is seriously compromised by the shrinking labor force.
The Uber Shift
Uber is not just something your college-age grandkids do when they need a ride home from the bars. The ride-sharing service and similar companies, which connect people looking to go somewhere with people willing to drive them there, are a real force in today’s labor market.
Uber estimates it signs up 50,000 new drivers each month. Some of these are part-time drivers simply looking to augment their regular paycheck, but a substantial percentage, drawn by the autonomy and variety afforded by Uber, drive for the company full time. As ride-sharing becomes more pervasive, those numbers are likely to grow, taking a further bite out of the available workforce.
A $15/Hour Minimum Wage
It’s unclear where this movement will go: Some states and local governments have mandated a $15 hourly wage, while other states – like Ohio – have barred municipalities from raising the minimum wage for employers within their borders.
Regardless, the mandated minimum wage won’t decrease, and a steady rise is inevitable. Is your grinding operation in a position to fund an increased payroll that’s not automatically matched by increased productivity?
Combined, a shrinking workforce and uncertain wage demands present serious challenges for grinding machinery owners large and small. Denying the existence of these forces won’t keep them from damaging a company’s ability to capitalize on future growth potential.
Automation is sometimes vilified for taking jobs from skilled workers. But in this case, increased automation is the friend of worker and company owner alike, allowing grinding machinery owners to meet greater demand with the same size staff and keep everyone employed.
If you’re looking for automation answers, we can help you find them. Contact Us to learn how automated grinding machines can make a difference in your operation.