Manufacturing industry trends to watch out for in 2017
The manufacturing industry in the United States is, both literally and figuratively, the backbone on which our lives are built. There is not much that we do throughout the day that doesn’t include using a manufactured product. Examples of this are the clothes we wear, vehicles taking us from point a to point b, and the furniture we sit or sleep on.
Manufacturing contributes heavily to our economy, and its financial importance is on the rise. In 2017, it accounts for 12 percent of our economy, and is the highest multiplier in any sector. The industry employs 12 million people in the U.S., and an additional 3.5 million will be required over the coming years as demand for durable and capital goods are on the rise.
The rise of nationalism, especially on domestic turf, is driving current manufacturing industry trends as we struggle to determine what comes next. The uncertainty of global trade in the wake of renegotiated or broken trade agreements, and the potential for increased taxes and tariffs for those with plants outside the country, are causing a ripple effect. Due to this, companies are delaying spending to protect their manufacturing cash flow. It is a time of increasing pessimism, but there is still opportunity to experience significant gains in other ways. These opportunities could focus on increasing operational and manufacturing efficiency, and leveraging the connected industrial internet to greater advantage.
The increasing importance of technology in manufacturing industry trends
Bringing manufacturing jobs back into the country is necessary to the advancement of this industry in the U.S. Currently, jobs are in jeopardy because of automation, much more so than outsourcing. That’s why the manufacturing sector is prosperous – it is running leaner than it ever has, and the ability to derive maximum profit for its efforts is a pivotal strategy.
In order to increase jobs, there needs to be a focus on nurturing the very specific talent who will be able to take the industry to the next level. Software engineers specializing in manufacturing will advance trends, and forward-thinking companies will lead the charge into the next phase of growth in this industry.
Some manufacturing business ideas we will see include:
Spending on technology infrastructure
Smart technology is one of many key manufacturing industry trends that progressive companies are focusing on. The ability to automate processes and increase efficiency is something that can have a lasting influence, from the plant right down to the consumer level. The concept is, instead of making more of the product itself, make the process of creating it more efficient. By leveraging the industrial internet against their current operations, companies that are doing this are improving their bottom line. They are making what they already do better, from managing the supply chain down to data analytics.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning
Machine learning and AI have already infiltrated the manufacturing industry to tremendous effect. For performing repetitive functions, monitoring machine performance, moving and packing product, right down to quality control and quality assurance, there is some form of AI at every plant. Current trends are moving towards even greater adoption of this technology, and this will likely continue to have a positive impact on product pricing and service delivery.
Increased focus on digital strategies
A primary focus for many manufacturers today is increasing the digital connectivity of all their processes. Even if the manufacturing itself is automated, connecting that with the supply chain, sales and product development aspects will provide real-time insight. This will ultimately result in a greater value proposition for these businesses.
While there is speculation as to how our current political climate is going to change the manufacturing sector, it remains to be seen whether current trends will change that drastically. Since the need for technologically connected processes is on the rise, manufacturing business ideas that include a digital contingency will flourish. In comparison, companies who have not yet adopted these processes will need to form strategic alliances with those that do. These partnerships will influence the direction in which the industry goes, resulting in increased consumer value. Companies who opt to expand their digital network will be ready for the future, regardless of what comes their way.