I met with a president of a small mold manufacturing company today. The value of shipment and the number of the mold manufacturing companies in Japan has been decreasing since 1990. About 14,000 mold manufacturing companies ran the business in 1990. In 2013 about 9,000 companies remained.
In particular, after the Lehman Shock in 2008, many companies carried out the restructuring. Some of the dismissed skilled workers were employed by Chinese manufacturers with a high salary. They have accumulated skill. Now the production value of the molds made by Chinese manufacturers surpasses that by Japanese ones.
I’ve heard that it’s difficult to master the mold technology without the technology accumulation. So the president of the small mold manufacturing company told that his company has survived due to his accumulated know-hows. However, in terms of the technology succession, his company can’t hire workers in the current labor shortage condition.
There are some categories in the mold fields including stamping molds, and molds for plastic molding. The mold technology is indispensable for manufacturing in Japan. Many of them are small manufacturers, and they don’t afford to train human resources. Consequently the technology that workers have accumulated is losing.
The mold makers in Japan can’t compete with counterparts in the emerging countries. The effort to enhance the technology and to inherit it are required.