The manufacturing industry has had a roller coaster ride over the past couple of decades. Back in the nineties, the industry was positively booming. Then the emergence of the Far East as a powerhouse for cheap products and exports in the noughties meant that manufacturing in the Western world became more of a tough industry in which to gain a foothold. The speed, efficiency and cost at which factories in China, Taiwan and South Korea could produce and ship items made it hard for the USA and UK to compete. Fast forward to 2018 and manufacturing is seeing a resurgence. Why is this?
Thirst For All Things Local
The consumer is now much more discerning than they used to be. People adore the thought of doing their bit for the environment, putting a stop to ridiculous amounts of air miles and trying to be as carbon neutral as possible. They no longer want their chardonnay from Australia and will opt for a homegrown grape variety instead. Give an individual the option of purchasing a new pair of designer sneakers from a company that manufactures in Beijing or one that manufactures in New York, and the chances are that they’d be willing to pay a premium to secure the ones made in the United States. It is this willingness on the end user’s part to pay for this privilege that is causing businesses to look again at their manufacturing strategy.
Alongside the consumer’s quest for environmentally friendly products is the Western world’s need to find new renewable energy sources rather than maintain a reliance on fossil fuels. Plants in the United States are now dedicated to manufacturing solar panels and wind turbines for industrial and domestic use. With the advancements in technology such as a vision inspection system and robotically armed machinery, manufacturing is now more accurate, faster and doesn’t suffer from the quality control mishaps of the past. With the thirst for eco-friendly alternatives showing no sign of letting up, this is a sector that the manufacturing arm of industry can latch onto for the foreseeable future.
While it is admirable that society wants to halt the advancement of global warming, they are still keen to drive the latest gizmo laden vehicles. To be fair, many of these new automobiles utilise hybrid technology which means they release less emissions. The Prius was the initial market leader of the hybrid market, but now there are untold numbers of electric powered cars chomping at its heels; all of which need manufacturing and shipping worldwide. However, plenty of diesel guzzlers are still being exported each year. The car industry has seen slumps in the past twenty years but at the current moment is booming.
Manufacturing, while not the most appealing industry in which to work, is seeing a resurgence. As such, more jobs are being made available, and some of the brightest graduates are choosing to forge a career in this sector. Let’s hope that the roller coaster ride for manufacturing remains capable of scaling the dizzying heights for decades to come.