At the very end or very beginning of every year, dozens of bloggers and industry experts create lists of predictions or trends for the coming year. Be it tradition or nonsense, many in the manufacturing industry look to these lists as forecasts for what’s to come in the coming quarters. Sometimes, bloggers get it right–other times, they miss their mark.
Writers forecasted big things for 2015–”reshoring” becoming more prevalent, sector growth stateside, Big Data and wearable tech reaching manufacturing facilities and countless others. Now, more than halfway through the year, we’ll take a look back at these predictions and see if they hold water.
“Re-shoring” replacing offshoring.
In previous years, critics scoffed at the idea of “reshoring”, or American companies buying merchandise from American facilities as a way to boost the economy and reinvigorate American manufacturing.
Does this mean offshoring is a thing of the past? Not exactly. Many of the manufacturing jobs being “brought back home” are based on fracking, a contentious procedure where mile-deep holes are drilled and filled with water, sand and additives to create fractures in the shale under-surface, allowing natural gas to come back up to the surface. Not only is this practice under fire in many states for its purported harmful effects to the environment, it’s also losing popularity based on environmentalist campaigns. Additionally, pundits like Jeff McMahon, in a recent column for Forbes, said that offshoring for consumer goods will remain alive and well as long as it remains cheaper than manufacturing the same goods in the US.
Those in the manufacturing sector and the government agree that efforts to strengthen the American manufacturing industry henge on the ability to train workers to be highly-skilled in the new technologies that inevitably come with sector growth.
Big Data and the Internet of Things will come to factories
Big Data, defined broadly as the mining and analysis of large data sets produced by massive data-collecting software, is all the rage in manufacturing journalism, while the Internet of Things (IoT), or communication between separate devices without human input, is making waves as well.
These theories and their associated technologies have broad implications for the industrial sector–better supply chain management, increased efficiency and decreased need for machinery operation, and real-time reports on input, output, supply and demand, just to name a few. But will they stick, or are they just the most recent trendy tech jargon?
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