What’s Next for Domestic Manufacturing?
As U.S. elections neared, discussions heated up, with trade deals and strengthening domestic manufacturing headlining prominent discussions for both Democrats and Republicans. After a contentious battle for president, domestic manufacturing remains at the top of a list of concerns for both parties. While uncertainty remains, U.S. manufacturers can look towards a cautiously bright, if somewhat different, future for 2017. A future that includes an increase in domestic talent to fill new jobs, increased investment with new trade partners, and new products to replace previously off-shored production.
Manufacturing Day Celebrates New Workers
On October 7th manufacturing companies across the nation opened their doors to millions of students for Manufacturing Day, giving a new generation of workers a chance to explore opportunities in the field. With 2 million manufacturing jobs projected to go unfilled over the next decade, manufacturers are working to change the perception of new jobs, and show how important this industry is to each community, state, and to America. Demonstrations, events, and speeches held during Manufacturing Day show how companies are building enthusiasm among new workers, and how these practices can be adopted year-round to bridge the labor gap.
The Design Process for Success
Design for Use
After testing a prototype, ensuring it is safe, sturdy, user-friendly, and testing a list of other metrics, the mass-market design is only half over. While making sure a product is ready for use is essential to its success, designing a product that can be quickly and cost-effectively manufactured is essential to the businesses’ success. Before putting your design on the production line, an experienced manufacturing partner can help you optimize your design for production as well as for use. Knowing what you are designing for and prioritizing your production design objectives will help create a product that is both economically and functionally sound.
Advantages of Hand Assembly
While automation has replaced manual assembly in some industries, many businesses enjoy cost-savings, quality control, and convenience from hand assembly. Rolls Royce, for example, has relied on their human workforce to complete high-quality luxury cars since 1906—that’s 100 years of hand-made perfection. Other industries find similar benefits, like OEMs of many vital electronic components, electronic products, textile products, paper products, and many others. Despite noticeable trends in automation, handmade assembly remains the unspoken, yet essential bridge completing many finished products today. Manual assembly is also a strategic business advantage that many companies continue to utilize for a variety of reasons.
Finding the Right High-Volume Supplier
Getting your parts on time, within your budget and free of defects is your goal, and finding the right supplier is essential. While manufacturers want to cast a wide net and provide an array of services to suit many different clients, there are many options to choose from and finding a supplier that is familiar with your products can save time and money. Working with a high-volume stamping supplier that can't keep up with demand will bring business to a halt, while a supplier that works with you and anticipates your needs will forge a long-lasting partnership. When seeking a high-volume supplier, a few considerations can help to give you a competitive edge.
Powder Coating vs. E-coating
Developed near the same time around the turn of the 20th century, powder coating and e-coating were both responses to rising environmental concerns posed by liquid coating. Tracked from similar histories, both methods utilize similar principles involving charged particles and, generally, metallic products. The methods also now compete in many of the same spheres, though unique advantages and disadvantages have each won them acceptance in different fields with different products.
Though both methods were developed to minimize environmental impacts and increase coating efficiency, e-coating wins the battle on being green. While most powder coating methods by their nature introduce powder into the air, which must be filtered out before the air can be reintroduced, e-coating keeps paint and finishes in the application bath. While both methods aim to minimize HAPs and VOCs, the e-coating process's additional potential to reduce waste and reclaim excess paint in the application bath, instead of filtering it through the air, makes it generally more efficient.
Technology Helps Manufacturing Become Safer
New technology is expected to play a larger role in manufacturing success in 2016, with changes in international trade, cybersecurity, and workplace safety also at the top of the list. Some trends are already coming into focus, while others are forecast later in the year and the years ahead.
World population is expected to rise by 1 billion by the year 2025, with most of the growth in Asia and Africa. This puts higher emphasis on international trade, with opportunities to reach burgeoning new world markets. This also tightens competition between international manufacturing competitors, particularly manufacturing leaders China, Germany, Japan, and the U.S. A study by Deloitte Global and the U.S. Council on Competitiveness predicts an emphasis on innovation, with high-value, advanced manufacturing techniques, will put the U.S. ahead of China in the top spot. As China follows the shift towards advanced manufacturing, India, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia are expected to fill the low-cost, high-production spot.
Filling the Talent Shortfall
Manufacturers have been struggling for years to fill positions at every tier, finding that applicants' skills and education are just not where they need to be. The Manufacturing Institute, in partnership with Deloitte, conducted studies to analyze the talent shortfall and offer solutions to bridge the gap. 82% of manufacturers in the study reported a shortage of skilled workers that effected their operations, and this trend has no signs of slowing. If current trends continue, 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be up for grabs in the next decade, but 2 million will be vacant.
The Robotic Revolution
Robots have been used since the 1950’s to automate basic processes and make more units, faster, with more accuracy. With increasing reliance on automated processes throughout the world, robots are playing a larger and larger role in manufacturing. The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) reports average annual robotic sales between 2005 and 2008 at 115,000 units. This rose to annual sales of 171,000 between 2010 and 2014, an increase of about 48%. Poised on the edge of a critical technological overhaul, the robotics industry is expected to grow in leaps around the world, across industries and across businesses of all sizes.