financial analysis

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.

It appears this time, companies like Wal-Mart were more serious: in a recent summit, Wal-Mart execs said that their reshoring efforts “aren’t a publicity stunt” as many believed. A study by The Reshoring Initiative, the leader in reshoring advocacy in the US, said that the domestic manufacturing sector grew in 2014, and that offshoring is losing steam.

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.

US Manufacturing boom

This prediction seems to be spot-on: a report by The Institute for Supply Management states that their manufacturing index has risen steadily this year, while initiatives from The White House have set in motion government-mandated programs aimed at continuing this growth trend.

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?

With these, at least, it’s too soon to tell. The IoT seems to be taking off theoretically, but reports aren’t in yet about how many business owners are willing to adopt this still-new form of manufacturing, while Big Data remains a niche buzzword among the more tech-savvy CEOs, especially in light of security concerns.

US Connections, LLC is a leader in connecting US manufacturing companies with qualified China manufacturers. They boast an impeccable product line including gears, stamping products, machining and CNC machining products. Extensive hands-on, day-to-day operations of US manufacturing firms. ISO inspectors who have a deep knowledge of firms across the States – their strengths and their weaknesses. An Asian Pacific office with years of experience developing partnerships with countless manufacturers looking to acquire intellectual property or partner with a US firm for market expansion.

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