By James Shores
A recent Forbes article by Joel Kotkin provides a concise analysis of Manufacturing growth across the United States, highlighting strong uptrends specific to varying regions. From the Great Lakes to Seattle, Houston, Nashville, even Salt Lake City, the resurgence of manufacturing jobs and businesses appears to share several common ties.
The automotive industries of Detroit and Nashville are facing a greater demand and generating additional jobs, including the complementary industries of automotive parts and supplies manufacturers. The same can be said of oil and energy verticals, which rely on the manufacturing of machines, hardware, and petrochemicals. This may not come as much as surprise, as an uptick in manufacturing employment also correlates with increased demand for construction and professional services.
Many of the boomtowns of manufacturing are propelled by cheap energy costs accompanied by the rising demand for new energy solutions. While as a nation we continue to heavily rely on fossil fuels and associated byproducts, expanding industries of efficient oil, hybrid energy, and clean energy solutions gain momentum, narrowing the gap between the old and the new. With more readily available, energy-efficient production, manufacturing is turning a corner.
The office and the production floor of yesteryear had little interaction, but the increasing use of technology is bridging the divide, and it comes in many forms. Automation of the production line is increasing speed and effectiveness. Design and fabrication can be shared, modified, and put into production with simple keystrokes. Inventory management software is a nearly universal go-to for tracking, projecting, and accounting of inventory, supplies, customers, and so on. No matter the history of the industry, the effective use of technology is becoming a clear factor in its long-term success.
Continued growth in the manufacturing industry requires coming to terms with a new age where complementary, energy-efficient, technologically sound businesses offer a new model of design, functionality, and success.