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.


Image courtesy: CFE MediaGlobal 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.

The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2017 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
SCCR, 2018 Maintenance study, and VFDs in a washdown environment.
Welding ergonomics, 2017 Salary Survey, and surge protection
2017 Top Plant winner, Best practices, Plant Engineering at 70, Top 10 stories of 2017
Product of the Year winners, Pattern recognition, Engineering analytics, Revitalize older pump installations
Control room technology innovation; Practical approaches to corrosion protection; Pipeline regulator revises quality programs
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Setting internal automation standards
Knowing how and when to use parallel generators
PID controllers, Solar-powered SCADA, Using 80 GHz radar sensors

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me