The economy’s effect on the manufacturing industry

Manufacturers will have to continue to improve the efficiency of processing equipment and techniques in order to keep up with the economy’s attitudes and expectations.

By Terry Stemler, APEC November 16, 2016

Global and regional economies have been linked to the manufacturing industry throughout history, influencing each other in profound ways. There have been significant changes in the past and present that will also affect the future.

Past effects

The nations that hold the greatest power have always been the same nations that produced and controlled the bulk of the world’s goods. The Chinese Empire, Roman Empire, and British Empire have gained great wealth and control due to strong innovation and manufacturing capabilities. The Chinese Empire manufactured arms. The Roman Empire manufactured building materials, and the British Empire manufactured ships.

In the more recent past, the invention of a technique for creating steel resulted in the Industrial Revolution. Massive iron ore deposits in the United States were discovered and used to create thousands of bridges, railroads, skyscrapers, and engines. As a result, millions of jobs were created. One manufacturing discovery catapulted the US into becoming one of the world’s biggest economies. When the Great Depression hit, demand for manufactured goods stalled. The lack of demand put millions of people out of work.

Similarly, when the Great Recession of 2008 hit, millions of Americans working in the manufacturing industry lost their jobs. However, when workers were laid off, massive job losses indicated superior productivity by a company rather than the opposite.

Present effects

Positive economic side effects of industrialization allowed England, Germany, Japan, and the United States to rise to power during the 19th century. Currently, countries such as China, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, and India are experiencing an economic revolution. The standard of living continues to rise as manufacturing capabilities increase in these nations.

As the economy in the United States recovers from the Great Recession, manufacturing and job creation has accelerated. However, specialization is often required to keep up with the economy’s attitudes and expectations. Consumers are demanding innovation, customization, and variation at ever-increasing rates.

Future effects

As economies shift and mature, the manufacturing industry will need to shift and mature along with it. If manufacturers fail to evolve and compete on a global scale, they may get left behind. This may result in more homegrown companies closing their doors.

One approach to insulating the industry from both predictable and unpredictable economic fluctuations is by improving the efficiency of processing equipment and techniques. Improved manufacturing equipment and processes often result in the following benefits:

  • Increased uptime
  • Reduced downtime
  • Improved formula control
  • Upgraded traceability
  • Integrated automation in processing systems.

By investing in these approaches, the manufacturing industry will be better equipped to cope with any economic changes that come along while increasing profits.

-Terry Stemler is the President of APEC. This article originally appeared on Association for Manufacturing Excellence. AME is a CFE Media content partner.

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