With a slew of positive indicators for economic growth in manufacturing released recently, the future looks somewhat brighter as we start 2011. Looking further ahead, the aerospace industry, for one, forecasts that nearly 26,000 new passenger planes will be needed over the next 20 years. Plenty of manufacturing opportunities here.
But, staying with the aerospace industry for the moment, there are plenty of difficult challenges coming up if it is to succeed. One is a looming skills deficit. Globally, a rapidly ageing workforce, perhaps as much as 30 percent, is coming up to retirement and this loss has to be plugged - which takes time and effort.
At the same time, as the industry move to digital manufacturing and model based definitions, the skills set required shifts firmly into a good understanding of geometric tolerancing - something which is sorely lacking according to some industry commentators. From the design specification through engineering and manufacturing, getting the design intent realised can be a major headache particularly for suppliers further down the food chain. When it comes to geometric toleranciing, what are the specifications selected, what standards do they use, are there adequate descriptions of method and strategies, are we measuring correctly? etc. Lots to do.
Brendan Coyne - Editor