Industry 4.0 Manufacturing Sector Update: Are we There yet?

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U.S. industry is experiencing such a surge in growth that it could boost the country’s economic growth and influence the global economy. Yet, even if U.S. factories show promising production levels and create new jobs, they still lag in automation.

Companies looking for an impetus for sustainable industrialization will have to adopt automation in some aspects of manufacturing. The future is for smart and autonomous factories through the use of advanced technologies. Intelligent communication between objects and machines can lead production sites to self-manage with little human intervention–if any.

#ManufacturingUSA should help the US bridge the #automation gap.Click To Tweet

And if ever this automation favors machines over humans to fill in jobs, we can always tax the wealth created by robots, as proposed by the OG of Microsoft, Bill Gates. The tax revenues generated should finance jobs that only humans can occupy and, in theory, will offset and negative social impact.

We semi-recently covered China’s drive towards the next generation of manufacturing. Now, how’s the U.S. doing in response?

The U.S. Industry State of Affairs

On March 1, 2017, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), released its latest manufacturing report. According to the Report On Business for the month of February, manufacturing activities in the U.S. expanded for the sixth-straight month, and the overall national economy grew for the 93rd consecutive month.

ISM’s manufacturing index (PMI) increased by 1.7 points compared to January, to reach 57.7, the highest registered since October 2014. All of the ISM’s 11 indexes followed suit and registered signals growths compared to January readings: such as the New Orders Index (4.7% increase of percentage points), the Production Index (1.5%), and the Inventories of Raw Materials (3%).

Only three indexes, the Employment Index, the Prices Index and Customers’ Inventories Index, registered a decrease of 1.9%, 1%, and 1%, respectively.

Of the 18 manufacturing industries surveyed, 17 reported growth in February, with only the Furniture and Related Products industry reporting contraction.

Manufacturing USA

The Obama administration promoted “advanced manufacturing”, a term that encompasses all manufacturing production using information technology and automation to produce faster, better, and with less human intervention.

In 2012, Obama promised to set up a network of technological innovation, made up of several manufacturing innovations hubs, each with a different focus. Based on public-private partnership, these hubs bring together federal agencies, businesses, and academic institutions. The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, aka “Manufacturing USA” has since seen 11 institutions established, with other six planned for 2017.

MUSA focuses on collaboration, synergy, and co-investing. For a production company to develop further, for example, it can enlist the help of companies in the collaborative and complementary ecosystem of Industry 4.0.

The Resurgence of “Made in the USA”

Industry in the U.S. is more strategic than ever.

After a long period of outsourcing, the trend is reversed and “Made in the USA” is now pre-empted as a competitive asset. Through the Manufacturing USA network, American companies will be able to do more internally and enjoy a complementary proximity between the various sectors of production and research.

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