Six Manufacturing Trends for the New Year

How to make 2013 work for you.

The beginning of a New Year is always a good time to look ahead.  Newspapers, websites, and prognosticators print and publish endless lists of “Top Tips for the Upcoming Year” or “Hot Trends of 20XX,” and the hungry public eagerly eats them up looking for that one idea that will help them get ahead.

Make manufacturing trends work for you in the New Year.

Make manufacturing trends work for you in the New Year.  Photo: colourbox.com

More than just prurient interest, these lists and articles are a way of preparing us for the future.  Change is inevitable, and the future is coming.  We can either meet change head-on, or bury our head in the sand and be satisfied with the status quo.  Change adds risk, but is necessary for growth.  So let’s take a look at what the future holds, and what you can do to prepare for it.

 Manufacturing Growth Predicted

Most industry leaders and analysts are predicting moderate growth in 2013, with even more growth in 2014.  Moderate growth may not sound exciting, but after years of uncertainty and contraction, and the skittishness of analysts, predicting moderate growth is a very good sign of improving profit and new orders.

Capital Expenditures Up

Capital Expenditures are an excellent gauge of industry expectations.  When capital expenditures are down, it means businesses (and manufacturers) see risk and uncertainty in the future, and are unwilling to invest without a clear ROI or business need.  When capital expenditures are up, businesses see opportunity and profit in the future, and are investing with expected growth in mind.  Analysts estimate this year capital expenditures will grow 7.6% or more.  Supplier capital expenditures will exceed 7%.  These are positive signs, but they point to increasing competition.

American Manufacturing is in transition

There are a number of factors adding pressure to American Manufacturing, including a need for a skilled workforce and increased pressure from foreign markets.  Signs point to American Manufacturing and the economy enduring a period of transition.  American global competitiveness isn’t based on lower pricing, it will grow by improving quality and the GDP of the labor force.  To compete globally, the American worker needs to increase productivity and quality, which requires investment.

Importance of Quality

Set yourself up for success in 2013 with these tips.

Set yourself up for success in 2013 with these tips.  Photo: colourbox.com

In a recent survey, manufacturers cited the quality of parts and supplies as more important than price, customer service, or availability.  This is a clear change from previous surveys, when price and availability were of prime importance.  It also shows a change in the market, that the status quo of shop floor errors and mistakes are no longer acceptable.

CIMx Software is a technology company for manufacturing, so we’re taking a closer look at technology in the industry, and the role it will play in the coming year

Going Mobile

Last year, there was a strong push for mobile manufacturing.  Tablets and smart phones made their way to the shop floor as tools to improve communication and production.  That trend will continue this year, but manufacturers are looking for more than just an “app” to give them access to only data, they want full production control, and software fully integrated with the mobile platform.  If mobile manufacturing is a goal, look for manufacturing solutions that offer more than just an app.

New Solutions

In the past, Manufacturing Software solutions involved complex, custom-coded solutions available only to the largest companies, or they were simple with limited capabilities and little benefit.  There are new options starting to appear on the market with the goal of delivering MES benefits – paperless manufacturing.  One such product, soon to be available from CIMx Software, utilizes a readily available technology framework found on more than 90% of all shop floors to deliver low-cost, low-risk paperless manufacturing in less than 30 days.  Previously held views that technology is complex, risky, expensive, and takes years to install are no longer applicable in the modern market.

Change is inevitable, and all of us need to remember that even if we’re happy with the status quo, our competition may not be.  To stay competitive, you need to deliver process improvements, better customer service, and higher quality products faster with fewer errors.  A red flag for any shop floor would be starting the New Year without a goal or plan for improvement.

What are your plans for the New Year?  Do you have any goals in mind, or questions about what you read here?  If so, contact us using the comments below or email us at cimxsoftware@cimx.com.  We’ll answer as many emails as we can.  Any process improvement plan starts by gathering information and getting answers, and we’re happy to help.

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