2024 CNC Machining Trends & Challenges

2024 CNC Machining Trends & Challenges

The upcoming year is set to be an exciting one for the industry. A potent combination of advanced technology and the ongoing skills shortage is aligning and – for CNC machining – this means change.

Perhaps not (yet) monumental change, but something that providers and consumers should have on their radar. For both parties, keeping one eye ahead of the game can provide significant gain over the competition.

1. Automation, Robotics, Technology and AI

The use of automated tools within CNC machining is increasing exponentially. As technology advances, it becomes easier to integrate it within CNC processes. Manual labour is fast becoming less cost-effective as robotics not only offer better task efficiency, but can operate 24/7, without taking breaks, and with far more accuracy than can be achieved by humans.

This becomes even more relevant when you add advancing AI into the mix. However, the industry is naturally fairly cautious, so we probably won’t see a big breakthrough trend within physical CNC machining processes until 2025. But what will trend is likely to be the use of AI tech outside of production. For instance, within comms, marketing, processes etc.

2. Addressing the Skills Shortage

There’s no denying that Australia is in the middle of a skills crisis. Jobs and Skills Australia states that,

“More than a third (36 per cent) of all occupations assessed are in national shortage, with tech skills and jobs facing particular shortages, while demand is only set to increase”.

Although increasing automation will cut down on the level of manual labour that’s needed, this increases the requirement for a different skill set. With digital transformation being described as a ‘megatrend’, the industry needs to address upskilling current workers and attracting younger people who are more tech-savvy into their ranks.

3. Economic Challenges and Meeting Rising Costs

The national economy remains resilient. Even though it’s predicted to slow somewhat this year – to 1.25% – a positive trend of reducing inflation continues. This means that, nationally at least, CNC companies can expect orders to remain strong.

Internationally, however, the future appears less robust. Worldwide events and challenges continue to make for an unstable landscape. Australian manufacturing still relies overwhelmingly on China, which is navigating its own current crisis. Southeast Asia – another close trading partner – shows mixed performances. CNC operations that depend on overseas trade must keep a sharp eye on how unfurling events might affect their business.

The rising costs of industry are affecting everyone. From labour costs to materials, insurance to staff training, companies need to put effective strategies in place to ensure they can meet the demands whilst continuing to remain competitive.

4. Sustainability and Efficient Energy Usage

In combination with increasing automation, CNC companies consider their energy usage and environmental responsibilities. While a shift to greener models might initially represent an increase in costs, putting a solid foundation in place will ultimately lead to lower outgoings.

5. Targeting Growing Industries

For a powerful example of how CNC machining operations can ride the increasing wave of upcoming tech, one needs look no further than the growth of electric vehicles (EV). However, where else do such opportunities lie? Having one eye on the present and the other on upcoming tech trends is an essential part of driving success today, tomorrow and into the future.

6. Constant Competitor Evaluation

All of the above suggests that we’re heading towards a common scenario: the likelihood that CNC operations that provide high quality in combination with high output will be the most successful.

Automation, robotics, AI, an appropriately skilled workforce, sustainability and intelligent energy consumption along with careful industry targeting will determine failure or success. It’s a truism that consumer expectation is shifting back to a post-covid landscape. In other words, high levels of accuracy along with increased output are the key elements that every CNC business must strive to achieve.

At Sixde, our ethos has always been to provide for today and plan for tomorrow. Our decades of expertise and commitment to excellence are just some of the reasons we’re one of Australia’s most successful precision engineering firms.

From our research, development and design services to advanced manufacturing abilities, we’re constantly reinvesting in our staff, training and production capabilities.

Discover more about how our unique manufacturing approach can be beneficial to you by getting in contact with our team today.