Welcome to 2023, the year of creative solutions to overcome lingering supply chain challenges. Don’t worry; things shouldn’t be as drastic as they have been for the past few years. However, they won’t necessarily be easy, either.

This guide isn’t going to get into economic forecasts, politics or international conflicts. You can get all of that from the news (if you wish). We’re not going to contribute to the doom and gloom, nor are we going to give “hot takes” or bold predictions. Instead, we’ll provide an objective rundown of the key factors that seem likely to impact manufacturing and precision metal stamping purchasing throughout the year. Here are the trends we’re seeing right now:

1. Onshoring Accelerating

Now in the fourth calendar year of the pandemic, most supply chains aren’t coming to screeching halts like they were early on – but manufacturers remain wary and vulnerable, especially when dealing with international suppliers. To mitigate the risks of further and future supply chain disruptions, and in tune with broader U.S. government initiatives for a more robust supply chain domestically, many manufacturers are bringing jobs back to the U.S., aka onshoring.

While onshoring can certainly be seen as a good thing overall, it’s not without its own potential shortcomings. More domestic production means more transportation and logistics are required, leading to possible delays and higher costs. Weigh the costs and options upfront to determine whether onshoring is truly the best financial decision for your business.

2. Labor Shortages Continuing

In the age of remote and flexible work, it’s difficult to attract skilled workers to traditional manufacturing jobs. Onshoring compounds the issue because you’re creating more jobs that are difficult to fill. The manufacturing talent pool in the U.S. has long been declining, even before COVID. According to Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, the U.S. could see 2.1 million manufacturing jobs unfilled by 2030. Labor is clearly a persistent challenge that manufacturers will have to navigate, potentially shutting down facilities at times and/or leaning on outsourced suppliers to fill workforce gaps.

3. Robots Assisting

Remember, 2023 is the year of creative solutions. If your business has made it this far, you can get through any rough patches ahead if you’re proactive and, once again, creative. Now is a good time to take industrial robotics seriously. We’ve done so ourselves at Die-Matic by investing over $500,000 into robotics in 2022 alone. The robots helped fill immediate labor voids while augmenting our staff and bringing our business into the future. Experts generally agree that robotics will continue to become more commonplace in manufacturing facilities. Given the current labor gap, 2023 could be a big year for adoption.

4. Material Costs Fluctuating

The huge price spikes for raw materials are hopefully behind us for the foreseeable future. That said, eroding prices for certain materials – particularly steel – are still a cause for concern and will be important to monitor. If or when prices drop too low, steel mills will begin shutting down to decrease supply and increase demand. This happens cyclically and it’s looking like that cycle may be imminent in 2023. Whenever supply tightens, it can disrupt production schedules, as seen in the automotive industry during the ongoing microchip shortage (which, by the way, doesn’t appear to be letting up quite yet).

5. Suppliers Problem Solving

The trends above have something in common – the need for a supplier that operates more as a partner to flex with you as things change. Will your supplier make challenges disappear? No, but they can help address and work around them. Can they take a financial beating on your behalf? Of course not, but in the current conditions, a little bit of flexibility and foresight will go a long way. For example, if you have a long list of projects on the books for the year, we can consider purchasing materials further in advance to lock in current prices.

With 65 years in business supporting leading brands across many different markets with high-quality precision metal stamping, Die-Matic has an extra advantage in its experience and versatility. We’re here to help you succeed in 2023, no matter what the year throws our way. Request a quote today.