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Yesterday we started the first of our two part series on the top 8 pressing manufacturing industry trends in America. We covered closing the manufacturing skills gap, reshoring, fuel, and the resurgence of “Made In America.” Those four are some of the TOP pressing manufacturing industry trends in America which affect large swaths of the economy. Today, we will address 4 more manufacturing issues and trends with a more narrow focus on manufacturing operations. If you feel we left out a pressing trend, feel free to leave a comment below!

More Manufacturing Industry Trends in America

Mitigating Manufacturing and Supply Chain Risk

manufacturing industry trends mitigating riskUnexpected events, whether catastrophic like the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Sandy or a disruptive supply chain shortage, can change the future of a manufacturing company. To prevent such difficulties or at least minimize their impact, some companies spend millions of dollars on daily analysis of enterprise-wide risks.

Whereas supply chain and logistics are traditionally a focus of risk analysis teams, manufacturing and quality teams are now charged with improving process predictability. Through process understanding, that not only helps minimize risk in the event of a disaster, but it also provides immediate benefits such as predictable product supply, lower cost of goods sold (COGS) and inventory levels, and enhanced product quality, technology transfer, and regulatory compliance. A predictable process helps a company realize those benefits.

Manufacturing Industry Trends in Technology for Process Improvement, Visibility and Compliance

Demand for technology platforms in manufacturing which provide both information and automation systems is soaring. The reason is process improvement, visibility, compliance and the ability to get valuable reports from data..

Manufacturers, upon implementation of manufacturing technology, such as the use of advanced robotics, ERP, a Warehouse Management System, or Transportation Management System, will aid in the visibility of the supply chain, remain compliant, as well as provide insightful information through data analysis in order to allow manufacturing companies make business decisions to further mitigate supply chain risk and drive even further benefits, such as creating a culture within their company of continuous improvement. In addition to risk mitigation, compliance, and continuous improvement, manufacturing technology can make a company more economical by intimately knowing the impact of their decisions on their bottom lines, but also use the automation features in the manufacturing technology to decrease time spent on activities which are not the core focus of the manufacturer.

Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing Manufacturing Industry Trends

manufacturing industry trends 3d printingAdditive manufacturing (AM), often referred to as three-dimensional (3D) printing, is a new way of making products and components from a digital model, and will have implications in a wide range of industries including defense, aerospace, automotive, and metals manufacturing.

According to the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity, “Growth on the industrial side is coming from metal additive manufacturing. The key sector is aerospace, where GE and Honeywell have made major investments to deliver on commitments to produce lighter weight components. Consumer goods manufacturers Nike and New Balance both have specialty shoes in production using AM components.”

Hailed by ‘The Economist’ as catalyst of ‘the third industrial revolution’, additive manufacturing looks set to have a significant impact on manufacturing in the near future and in his 2013, second term State of the Union address, Obama described 3D printing as ‘having the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything’.

Currently around 28% of the money spent on printing things is for final products, according to Terry Wohlers, who runs a research firm specializing in the field. He predicts that this will rise to just over 50% by 2016 and to more than 80% by 2020.

Regulation and Policy which Affects Manufacturing

Finally, there is no way to talk about the issues and manufacturing industry trends which affect manufacturing without talking about government regulation and policy. In a span of only 12 months, manufacturers have dealt with the fiscal cliff, the sequester, the new hours of service rules, which effected transportation and logistics departmental costs and process within manufacturing companies, and will then have to deal with the forthcoming MAP-21 act, affecting transportation costs again, and then finally the Affordable Care Act, affecting the operational cash flow of a company in the way of health insurance offered to employees, commonly referred to as “Obamacare”.

In general, manufacturers want the government to stay out of their operations, as the private sector does a great job at driving manufacturing growth, but do think regulation is important when it comes to human and labor rights, the environment, and infrastructure. According to a poll on, businesses gave a 76% “NO” to the question, “Should the government intervene with the free market and save failing businesses?”. With many of the comments saying, government should protect human rights and the environment, but not intervene in operations. The Obama administration touts bringing back manufacturing jobs, with his claim of restoring 1,000,000 manufacturing jobs during his final term. So far, according to The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) job tracker, Obama is still 98.7% away from fulfilling this promise needing to create 23,000 jobs EACH month to reach his goal.

Make sure you educate yourself on the top manufacturing industry trends in America by clicking on the various links within this blog post about these trends. Each of these trends have been written about at length, and we hope these small blurbs make you aware of them so you go out and research them on your own to empower you as a manufacturing executive to run a sustainable manufacturing business.  If you feel we are missing any, please let us know in the comments section below!