What does the future of the gases and welding industry hold? In the world of business, understanding what your customers will want tomorrow (maybe even before they know themselves) can be a significant advantage. Robotics, LNG, and shale are a few of the markets distributors are investing in for the future, and the reality is that it’s closer than many people think.
There are a variety of forces at play in shaping the future of welding equipment and gases. Technology has always been a major driver, and the emergence of technology is changing the pace of business and tools with which business is conducted. The movement toward energy efficiency and the price of oil are driving burgeoning markets where opportunities abound.
So where will the money be in the future? Or better yet, where is the money now? The Summer 2012 issue of Welding & Gases Today delves into growing markets in the aptly named cover story “Where Is The Money?”
Technology, as I mentioned, is a major theme. Social Media is changing the way customers communicate. Computer systems are changing the way distributors handle Accounts Receivable. And robotics is changing the way manufacturers create their products.
In Robotics 101, Fanuc Robotics Staff Engineer Michael Sharpe talks about the past, present and future of robotics. Notably, Sharpe says manufacturing is coming back to the U.S. “I’ve talked to many suppliers who comment that production in China has not saved them money because of high shipping costs, scrap rates and others.” This is great news for distributors and for the economy in general.
When it comes to energy, shale and LNG are hot topics. Somewhat surprisingly, the conversation on hydrogen as an alternative fuel is relatively quiet. For years hydrogen had been talked about as the future of energy, particularly with hydrogen fuel cell forklifts and cars. While automakers continue to push forward, the fueling infrastructure remains a major question mark.
What markets do you feel hold the strongest promise for the gases and welding industry? On the flipside, which markets are not likely to last?