Three Things All Future U.S. Manufacturing Leaders Should Know

Joe Weinlick
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The nature of U.S. manufacturing is changing fast. The existing infrastructure is not equipped to handle high production requirements, and the current workforce skill set is not a match for the latest in manufacturing technology. In order to succeed in the future, manufacturing leaders will need new skill sets and abilities.

Technology-Dependent Production Process

In order for U.S. manufacturing companies to stay competitive in the global market, they will need to embrace a new production process. Instead of traditional factory designs, which are heavily dependent on human operators, manufacturing leaders will need to embrace leaner, more efficient processes. Using automated technology, companies will be able to produce a higher amount with fewer laborers, leading to lower costs. Advanced sensors will enable increased error reporting and easier troubleshooting. What's more, companies are expected to embrace a more integrated process by involving scientists and engineers in the design of products and equipment. For future manufacturing leaders, updated production will require an in-depth understanding of the latest technology. It will also necessitate that they have the ability to collaborate with other subject-matter experts for maximum efficiency.

Shifting Value Chain

In the past, manufacturing companies have dealt only with production, while other companies provided related services. According to The Economist, the manufacturing leaders of the future may need to deal with a different section of the value chain. Instead of simply handing off products and moving on, manufacturers may opt to provide additional services to capture a greater share of the potential profits. For example, companies might sell their parts with maintenance packages to increase value for customers. Other businesses may take an opposite strategy and occupy a smaller part of the value chain by removing themselves from production entirely. Instead of designing and making products, they might simply license their designs to other companies.

Agility is Key

As the manufacturing industry shifts into its new incarnation, many analysts and futurists are predicting that agility will be the key to future production. Instead of mass-producing the same products, companies are expected to find ways to respond quickly to shifting consumer demand. Using advanced versions of technology such as 3-D printers, companies will be able to handle short production runs and one-off orders. What's more, they will be able to shift quickly from one product type to another. For future manufacturing leaders, this process will require extreme agility, both in thought and action. By building a factory and a workforce that can adapt quickly, manufacturers will be better positioned for success.

As consumers clamor for American-made products, manufacturing companies are shifting practices quickly to accommodate demand without raising costs. For the manufacturing leaders of the future, the changing industry landscape requires new skills and new thought processes.

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