Off-shoring and Re-shoring mould supply

22-May-2014

In the interests of best servicing my customers I was a relatively early adopter of off shore mould supply. In the early days and even now, I still try to avoid offering off-shore mould supply as the only option for my clients because I well understand the damage this is doing to the mouldmaking infrastructure in New Zealand, as it is in most developed economies.

More recently there has been much attention given to the concept of “re-shoring” (particularly in the USA) where more mould making is again being done locally. I think the jury is still out on how successful this will be in the long term.

China is the primary source of off shore mould supply and now they have this business I am not at all sure they will let it go so easily. Unlike many other mouldmaking communities around the world, mouldmaking companies in China continue to commit significant effort and resources to training programmes, and equally there is no shortage of people who seek careers in this sector and want to learn. In my experience the Chinese are also early adopters of the latest machine tools and software. One of the spinoffs to doing business with quality mouldmaking companies in China has also been much improved basic business practice compared with the large numbers of mould makers I have dealt with in other parts of the world. Service orientation is much better, communications are much better, and sticking to the agreed price and delivery is much better.

On the other hand, I truly hope there can be some significant re-shoring of mouldmaking into countries like Australia and New Zealand. However there are going to be big challenges. When the process of off-shoring began we already had a mouldmaking industry with an aged workforce and nowhere near enough new apprentices coming into it. It seems to me that the shrinking of this sector has only made this much worse. What is needed now is true new national initiatives (perhaps even Australasia wide) to attract, motivate and hold new people into mouldmaking, and bring with them new skills and motivations. We are going to need not just the best technical and engineering skills, but also the best business practices to compete in this sector in future.      

Mark Hanlon. 

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Off-shoring and Re-shoring mould supply

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