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North American moldmakers unprepared for “historic” auto surge: DesRosiers

In service of pent-up consumer demand, the North American auto industry launched approximately 70 all-new vehicle models each year for the next five years, translating into an "historic" wealth of new work that will be up for bids to North...


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May 15, 2013 by Canadian Plastics

In service of pent-up consumer demand, the North American auto industry launched approximately 70 all-new vehicle models each year for the next five years, translating into an “historic” wealth of new work that will be up for bids to North American mold, tool and die makers.

The projection comes from auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers, who addressed members of the Canadian Association of Mold Makers (CAMM) during a meeting held in Mississauga in conjunction with the Plast-Ex trade show.

The 70 all-new vehicle models figure compares about 40 all-new vehicle models launched each year before the auto slowdown and recession in 2008-2009, DesRosiers said.

“The mold, tool and die making sector is facing an historic demand for products; the biggest in history,” said DeRosiers. “Each one of those new models will need new molds for new exteriors and interiors, including new body moldings, new fascia, new lighting, new electronics, and new under-the-hood parts.”

Adding to the bonanza of potential work, almost all auto parts factories will run “hot”, significantly increasing the need for tool repairs, DesRosiers said.  

Mold makers should be bringing their staffing numbers back up so they’re ready for a continued surge in demand for products, DesRosiers continued. “Now is the time for moldmakers to take risks, to hire those young workers who are going to need three to five years to develop their skills.”

But there’s a big problem, he added: “As far back as we can get data, the mold, tool and die making sector grew its employment levels in Canada or at worse was stable, even during the most severe automotive downturns,” DesRosiers said. “But for the first time ever, the sector lost about 9,000 employees in the 2009 crisis and these jobs have not come back, and we don’t know why.”

The mold, tool and die making industry is nowhere near the employment level it should be to take advantage of the automotive growth, DesRosiers said. In 2006, there were 27,626 workers in the tool, die and machining field, according to Statistics Canada, a number that plummeted to 18,597 in 2010. “By 2012, the employment base had grown to about 19,800 workers, which was still far short of where the industry had been,” DesRosiers said. “Employee numbers are gutted, and I don’t know when or if you’re going to get it back. As a result – and unlike in all previous cycles dating back to pre-Autopact days – Canada’s tooling industry may not reap the full benefits of the anticipated demand.”