SME’s Manufacturing Engineering Media releases its annual trends report declaring advanced manufacturing software (Cloud ERP and PLM), automation, multifunction machines and 3-D printing are creating the new industry of the future, but cautions that developing a highly skilled workforce is critical to sustaining momentum in the U.S. manufacturing sector.
“The business case for manufacturing goods overseas has been turned on its head in recent years,” said Sarah A. Webster, editor in chief of Manufacturing Engineering. “Thanks primarily to lower energy costs and innovative new manufacturing technologies, the U.S. manufacturing sector should grow for the foreseeable future, provided the United States can meet the challenge of developing the skilled workforce needed to manage the advanced manufacturing factories of the future.
In January, President Barack Obama announced the selection of Raleigh, NC, for the second institute in his proposed National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. Four more manufacturing hubs are expected to be identified in 2014.
Cloud ERP and PLM
The lure of lowering costs through the cloud-based model has made the cloud an increasingly attractive option for manufacturing users, with cloud applications eliminating the substantial costs of hosting on-site or on premise applications, as well as allowing the outsourcing of costs related to installing new software and in-house software support.
Cloud ERP now enables plant management personnel to easily check the status of factory-floor equipment via smartphones, and these systems also are becoming more tightly intertwined with manufacturing execution systems (MES) to allow viewing machine status virtually in real-time and to adjust as needed to changing conditions.
Additional Highlights from the report:
- Innovation in advanced manufacturing technology: An array of new, software-enabled manufacturing machines and tools are improving productivity and leveling the playing field when it comes to competing for work globally.
- A revolution in energy production: The growth of unconventional extraction of oil and natural gas has led to a boom in demand for manufacturing parts to extract, store and transport energy. It has also lowered industrial energy costs -- a fundamental operating cost for manufacturers.
- Growth in post-recession demand: Organic growth in post-recession demand for key durable goods -- such as light vehicles and commercial airplanes, many of which are being redesigned for improved fuel economy and are made domestically -- is driving retooling of machine shops nationwide for new materials, processes and other new technologies.
- Investments in clean energy technology: The nation’s investments in wind and solar technologies, as well as regulations for more fuel-efficient vehicles, are spurring manufacturing growth and investments in new ways of making things.