How low does the Looney have to go? We are down around seventy two cents right now.
Only a few short periods where we were above parity - and never very much. OK, it was $2.78 in 1864, Sinse then I think it hit $1.08 or $1.10 for a few hours or days in Nov 2007 , but also went down to $61.9 in 2002,
As I said, there are other factors involved now in the decisions. Cost was a major factor before the rescue of GM and Chrysler. To analyze it now I'd have to spend a lot of time doing research. I am digging back into the business side of the industry over the next few months, but I'm not focusing on Canada.
If you followed my point, it was that, since the WTO action and the bailout, the vulnerability that Canada faces in the automobile industry has been exposed. You can't rely on the health or the decision-making process of the US auto industry. They've been tossed around by economic winds themselves.
Will there be a sizable niche for small manufacturing? As a for instance, most small brush makers have been gobbled up, I think because the markets are mature and there's not much room for product innovation. The only way to expand is to take your smaller competitors share. I imagine most small manufacturers will follow suite.
I know of a few job shops that have started up and are doing quite well. They make parts for machinery and equipment that the manufacturer has either abandoned or went belly up. One has a simple shop, Lathe (large OLD Logan), K&T mill, a plasma table, and MIG/TIG/Stick welding. He's currently setting up a heat treating oven and is thinking of adding a small foundry to cast some of the oddball parts.
Another one is doing similar work and gets stuff from the local town and highway departments on a weekly basis. His "production" work is making different "crafty items" for some Amish greenhouses (plant hangers, hooks, mini-windmills and such) he makes blanks of the item and they do the shaping and finish work.
Even today a good job shop can make good money. So put up a nice building and set that BP up and start makin' chips.
I don't know. I'm sure there are good projections from the big consulting firms, but they're probably proprietary.
There are two basic market streams for small shops: One is to be part of some big supply chain, and the other is to be an independent of some sort. The supply chains are being shaped to accomodate their small-shop tiers. That's been going on for decades in the automotive, aerospace, and electrical-machinery supply chains. What's harder to figure is where things will go for the independents.
My guess is that it depends on how many niches are going to be out there. They might produce a product that has a small niche, or they might specialize in a process that serves some larger OEMs without becoming part of the general supply chain. For example, there are shops out there now that do nothing but laser buildup and repair of jet turbine blades. Repair work will always be there. But the numbers for the future are hard to figure.
In the late '70s, there were 147,000 metalworking companies in the US. Over 100,000 of them had fewer than 20 employees. In maybe 15 minutes with the Census NAICS Code data, you could figure out where it is today, and see what the trend is. I haven't done that for years but my gut feeling is that the number hasn't declined very much, if at all.
New process niches keep popping up all the time, so the situation for general job shops may be fairly stable. As for very small manufacturers, I doubt if the situation will be as good. They'll either get bought up or go under.
I'm sure that the bigger industry analysts have a better handle on it.
Food vending machines and help yourself smorgasbords and buffets have been around a lot longer than robots. If a restaurant gets rid of food servers it won't be with robots. A robot that performed all the tasks of an $8/hr fast food worker is going to cost a whole lot more than a robot to replace a $50/hr assembly line worker that is performing some repetitive task like welding a particular seam on an automobile body.
Nope, we don't need them. But I think we'll be keeping them for a
very* long time.
Your talking about changing a financial structure to include a lot of up-front capital. Figure the life cycle cost on a $50,000 six-axis robot with a lifetime of 8 years, including maintenance and programming; staging for a continuously-changing menu of products; linear transport of components to the robot; etc., etc.
Then figure out how long it will take to get people used to the idea. This isn't painting their cars. This is making their food.
The robots that could do that kind of work have been around for over
20 years. Now think about why they aren't assembling burgers right now.
I did quite a few jobs after selling out the brush business. i just suddenly got old and have no stamina left. My latest adventure was a TIA a couple of weeks ago, scared the crap out of me. I would like to have a play room that wasn't 25 miles away like the shop is! I still have ideas that I'd like to build.
I see, from my perspective I've watched my industry shrink in number of players without new companies coming on line. There are really only 5 big boy players each commanding a different market segment. I had three offers on my business when we put it on the market. Two were domestic and one from Canada that wanted my flat wire technology and market REAL bad. The Canadian company needed to grow and open a new market. Canadians are weird people I found out and have a strange way of doing things. I had a lot of frustration getting them to do things in a timely manner and they wouldn't listen to me about how to do things and how to relate to US customers. I thought it was just me until I spoke with others in the industry and found out that that's just how Canadians roll.
I saw one company recently, they have huge lathes and horizontal boring mills. He does repair work for huge crank shaft driven presses and makes replacement crankshafts. His raw material forgings weigh about 20 tons. He machines them into crankshafts. He also told me something almost unbelievable, that the forgings are X rayed! I did not know that you could X ray a 3 foot diameter chunk of steel. The guy is smart, very cheap, somewhat messy, does not even have any oil-dri, just lets the concrete absorb everything. His words not mine.
Deloitte says the average total labor cost for fast-food restaurants is 30% - 35% of gross sales. That includes prep cooks (which the robot would replace); grill cooks (unknown if robots would be involved); counter help; and managers.
A much more likely replacement -- one that is followed by a couple of franchise operations here -- is replacing most of the counter help with touch-screen ordering.