Many of your market segments are stagnant or even shrinking. Many customers are going offshore to do business. The economy is down, and any upturn is going to take a long time.
Customers are more demanding.
Your customers wanted their product yesterday. Their annual forecasts have now become weekly. They want products faster but also more value-added at a lower price.
Competition is brutal.
Since the marketplace is hardly growing, competitors are trying to take business away from others by lowering prices. The result is lower profits for everyone. Then there’s the offshore competition with low labor costs that you can’t match.
Look into every possible cost reduction.
If you are like most manufacturers, you’re constantly looking to cut costs. You’ve probably cut labor and overhead as much as possible. You’re now looking to reduce component costs. Many of your vendors can only lower prices so much due to built-in overhead, debt obligations, etc. Maybe it’s time to start looking around.
Changing vendors may involve risk.
Obviously, there’s a risk in changing vendors. But, doing nothing also has its risks as you become less price competitive. Besides, you don’t have to completely dump your vendors. Just divert some of your component business while trying an alternative source. Remember, not remaining competitive can be fatal.
The following are terms that you may not be familiar with:
Heating of electroplated springs to relieve hydrogen embrittlement.
Maximum stress subjected to a material without permanent set.
Fixturing a spring at elevated temperature to minimize loss of load at operating temperature.
Hydrogen is absorbed in electroplating or pickling of carbon steels, tending to make the spring material brittle and susceptible to cracking and failure.
Acid treatment of stainless steel to remove contaminants and improve corrosion resistance.
Stresses induced by set removal, shot peening, cold working, etc. These stresses may/may not be beneficial, depending on the application.
Subject springs to low-temperature heat treatment to relieve stresses.
A cold-working process in which the material surface is peened to induce compressive stresses and thereby improve fatigue life.
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