Challenges of Aluminum Extrusion Production

Views:389 Author:Site Editor Publish Time:2024-02-02 10:22:31 Orgin:Site
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Aluminum extrusions are the backbone of most industries, including construction, automotive, medical, and technical industries, and airplane manufacturing. Market demand for aluminum extrusions is extremely high. However, this has created a lot of challenges that most companies are struggling to deal with.

 

Some of these challenges include a high market demand that most companies are struggling to meet, a shortage of labor, inaccessible raw materials, energy costs, etc. These challenges have made it difficult for companies to effectively produce enough aluminum extrusions to meet the market’s demand.

 

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How Does It Work?

Manufacturing aluminum extrusions is an easy process that entails pushing aluminum billets through a die to create the extrusions. The procedure is akin to squeezing toothpaste out of its tube, although it is more complex. Thus, makers have to warm up the metal before they can force it through the die and instantly cool it down, once they are done.

 

Though the process seems simple enough, there are many obstacles in the way of manufacturing companies that make them unable to produce adequate amounts of aluminum extrusions required by the market. This is even more challenging for small organizations which have not been on the market long enough to acquire experience or large profits for dealing with these regulations and demands for aluminum extrusion.


Challenges

Challenges are strong lived through the following issues:

 

Raw Materials

All manufacturing concerns require sufficient raw materials in order to effectively manufacture their intended products and aluminum extrusion firms are no different from all others. There could be several reasons why an aluminum extrusion manufacturing company may lack sufficient raw material and among them include political tension, scarcity as well as competition from established corporations.

 

More often than not, start-ups face more challenges when dealing with sourcing of raw materials since these companies do not have strong grounds established in this industry. Also, usually resourceful and connected corporations such monopolize against new ones.

Other reasons that may prevent companies from getting enough raw materials include market fluctuations and tariffs. Market fluctuations and tariffs affect the raw materials supply chain, making the materials more expensive and harder to source.

 

Inconsistent raw material supply can also lead to unreliable production schedules, making it more difficult for companies to manufacture products and meet the market’s demands. The best option would be for most companies to adapt to these market conditions and find better ways to maintain a steady supply of raw materials.

 

The best example is that India is the highest exporter of aluminum billets and other aluminum products. Most countries charge 3-6 percent tariffs for importing aluminum, and this can go as high as 10 percent. The chances of importing aluminum at expensive prices is possible if the tension between India and Pakistan escalates, and this will hinder production.

 

Poor quality materials are the result of inconsistencies, even when sourcing the material from the same supplier. Often, the raw materials have changes in their chemical compositions or have flaws that can affect the end product’s quality. Most companies have rigorous quality control measures, which can slow down production.

 

Energy

All businesses in the manufacturing sector need a lot of energy to make finished goods, and aluminum extrusion production is no exception. Aluminum manufacturing calls for massive amounts of heat, refining, squeezing and cooling of ingots during its stage of production through to the end. Besides these processes, there are others that ensure smooth running of the entire company.

Industrial firms attempt to minimize the amount of energy used in the production process so as to reduce overall costs by either improving their production processes or employing more effective tools. Nevertheless, there may be times when these efforts will not result into results desired at first.

 

The main reason is that energy costs keep going up continuously while manufacturers have an immediate need to become more efficient with their use of energy. This forces the companies into a very hard place where they have to bring down their cost of production but still remain competitive.

 

Even though companies are trying different ways for becoming more energy-efficient but not quite yet and this has posed some challenges during aluminum extrusion manufacture. A lot of resources have been put into finding ways of cutting down on power consumption in order increase output and save thousands every monthly period.

 

Maintenance and Inspection

All manufacturing companies require routine maintenance and inspection, and while aluminum extrusion production plants are no different, the practice does come with its challenges. For starters, companies require specialized individuals to perform routine inspections and finding enough individuals to cover the entire production plant can, sometimes, be challenging.

 

Additionally, such companies have to ensure they hire the right individual who has enough experience to do the job properly. Inspecting the die and final product isn’t simple, and the chances are that a simple mistake could cost the company a lot of money and resources. Thus, the company has to invest a lot of its time into training the right person and ensuring they do their job as required.

 

Also, performing a routine inspection is not easy since there are several types of problems that a bad die could cause. For instance, it could deform the extrusion’s surface, making it abrasive. Additionally, the extrusion could have an internal cavity that is hard to detect. Also, the inspectors have to ensure the extrusion process runs smoothly.

 

For instance, they have to ensure that the temperature and pressure are at optimal levels for the manufacturing process to run smoothly and produce good-quality products. These and other reasons show the importance of acquiring and training competent inspectors to inspect various sections of the manufacturing process, however challenging the process may be.

 

Competition

Earlier, it was noted that the aluminum extrusion production industry faces competition from well established companies that have been, in the business for a long time. These companies have the resources to acquire materials and skilled labor to efficiently produce finished goods.

 

Moreover, these established companies encounter obstacles related to energy and labor costs due to their longevity in the industry allowing them to adjust their operations based on demands. On the contrary new entrants may find it tough as they grapple with rising labor and energy expenses.

 

When confronted with hurdles emerging firms may need to seek solutions to sustain their operations. For instance, they could retain their workforce. Optimize machinery, for energy efficiency. However, in circumstances, they might consider merging with enterprises or making tough decisions like downsizing staff or reducing production output.

 

Design

Developing custom dies for the extrusion process poses its set of challenges. Some clients may present designs that prove difficult to finalize.

 

Customers need to provide measurements to experts who can interpret the dimensions and shape to determine the container size, for die making. Certain companies offer design services as a way to address this issue.

 

Another challenge faced during the production process is from customers who think that all corners from the extrusion have to be sharp or those who come with over specifications.

 

Manufacturing companies deal with this by educating the customers that it is challenging to get extremely sharp edges unless other fabrication methods are used or that there are acceptable levels or tolerances for characteristics like straightness, flatness, or twist.

 

As such, designers consider an extruded part’s application before setting tolerances, and they never tolerate anything unless it's absolutely necessary. This translates to mean the customers should provide an adequate idea regarding what they need or seek help from designers to help them turn their idea into a finished product.

 

Labor

Most of the current population is moving from hard labor because it is strenuous and less rewarding. The current generation is not interested in hard repetitive tasks since they view them as unrewarding and consider them a stagnating career. This makes it difficult for aluminum extrusion companies to hire and retain their labor force.

 

Hiring and training an aluminum extrusion production workforce is challenging since most people see the job as a stepping stone to something better. Rarely do most people join the industry because they appreciate it and want to climb up the ladder. Consider the fact that training these individuals requires time and resources, and you’ll understand why it may, eventually, become a problem.

 

Current projections estimate that there will be a 2.9 million shortage of employees in the US manufacturing industry by the year 2030. Additionally, there has been increased absenteeism over the years, causing many manufacturing companies to run at suboptimal levels. This is true since subsequent populations are looking for easier ways to make a living.

 

The best solution would be creating automated means of making aluminum extrusions, which is expensive and requires more energy. Otherwise, there will be decreased production of aluminum extrusions in a market with an ever-increasing demand.

 

Environmental Regulations

In industries, the process of aluminum extrusion manufacturing leads to environmental waste and emissions. These emissions and waste can have impacts on the environment. Pose challenges for companies operating in regions with strict environmental regulations.

 

These regulations can impact production by imposing restrictions on the amount of aluminum extrusions that can be manufactured within a timeframe. Companies may face constraints. Even have to halt production based on their emission levels during that period. Nevertheless, there are strategies that companies can adopt to enhance their production.

 

To begin with, companies can explore ways to adhere to these regulations. For example, they could invest in equipment and technology to meet compliance standards. While this investment may incur costs initially it could prove advantageous in the run.

 

While established companies might find it feasible to implement these changes startups may encounter challenges in adapting or securing funds for technology and equipment. They might opt for government loans or seek investors; however, this could potentially slow down their aluminum extrusion production.

 

Growing Demand

The market has witnessed a surge in demand, for aluminum extrusion products as more industries recognize the advantages offered by these products.

 

Many businesses have requested extrusions causing a strain, on the supply chain alongside existing issues. The rise, in aluminum extrusion manufacturing has resulted in levels of waste and emissions prompting stricter regulations to be put in place.

 

Now, more than ever, it’s clear that there are more aluminum extrusion companies facing increased challenges in meeting the market’s demands. And the outcome? There is a backlog of orders that may take some time to be cleared. Surprisingly enough, we still haven’t got a clear-cut solution for this challenge.

 

Rather we are just after finding those incentives which we think may help most of these manufacturing companies find an easier time when doing their extrusion jobs. But what if that fails?

 

On the same note what if some of the companies decide to try out automation; only for it to come at a high price? That means the smaller companies may have a hard time accomplishing. It’s a no brainer, the only solution is for all stakeholders to work together.

 

Conclusion

Aluminum extrusion production is an important process for several industries and it could be the key for the next industrialization era.

 

However, it is a challenging process. Therefore, most industries have had to adapt to stay in the game. Industries that plan to meet or surpass the current demand should be innovative and proactive when searching for a solution to their manufacturing challenges. This includes finding ways to improve efficiency and quality while reducing costs.

 

Most customers should expect extended lead times for aluminum extrusion products. This could range from 10 to 50 weeks as most manufacturing companies don’t currently accept new clients. Manufacturing companies could ramp up production by increasing their labor force, investing in new technology, buying better equipment, and doubling the size of their factory.

 

Additionally, the companies should find a steady source of raw materials and find ways to work with governments to solve basic challenges like energy, labor, and environmental regulations. Most challenges faced by these companies require all stakeholders to collaborate and find a sustainable way to grow the aluminum extrusion industry.

 


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