In 2007, U.S. auto manufacturers faced a $30 per hour labor cost gap as compared with their Asian rivals. A decade later, the cost differential has declined to around $10 per hour. According to the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the average hourly labor cost, including benefits, was $58 at GM, $57 at Ford and $48 at Fiat Chrysler (March 2015). Entry-level auto workers are being hired at $15.78 per hour, plus benefits, so the trend indicates further declines in average rates.
There's no end in sight for competitive, political or economic pressures, so regardless of what the future holds, automotive manufacturers and suppliers will continue to aggressively seek ways to lower costs, improve efficiencies, automate processes, and outsource.
Fortunately, humans remain an important and necessary part of many manufacturing processes within the auto industry. "We" serve to run and monitor automated processes, perform tasks not easily turned over to automation, and apply interactive intelligence. Part of our responsibilities as workers and managers is to participate in the Continuous Improvement Process, which seeks to find and implement incremental improvements. This may not seem like very exciting work, but incremental improvements add up and become quite powerful over time.
At Mueller Electric, we identify and serve these opportunity areas. Mueller offers many standard and custom-built products that provide incremental improvements. One such example is aimed at reducing automotive plastics painting costs by better controlling electrostatic discharge, which can have a direct impact on finish quality. Mueller's electrostatic discharge grounding cables are value-priced, reusable, cleanable (or disposable) and most importantly, have proven field success in manual, semi-automated, and automated plastics painting processes.
If you're involved with automotive plastics painting (or a critical plastics painting application), let us evaluate your process, current grounding method, and cost. For more information, please download our Paint Transfer Efficiency Guide or contact us at 800.955.2629.