According to Jacob Prak, CEO of MMI, manufacturing in the U.S. is experiencing a significant boost from the shale oil and gas boom. Cheaper natural gas feed stocks are making U.S.-produced plastics and other materials less expensive than in other parts of the world. This will then mean that finished products which rely on these materials will be more competitive.
Communication technology will continue to reduce obstacles associated with bringing together geographically disparate manufacturing expertise. Manufacturing will need to react to market trends more quickly as demand can now be developed nearly instantaneously through social and other media. Production lines and supply chains will need the flexibility to adapt quickly.
Prak also cites the biggest challenges for manufacturing for the second half of 2014 as taxation, regulation and political unrest. He notes that in many countries, governments are responsible for an ever-increasing share of buying decisions either through direct taxation and spending or by regulation. In many places, the rules which govern the economy can change on a whim which makes production planning and the associated capital investment extremely risky.
Other insights include less R&D spending due mainly to a great deal of uncertainty in the economy, a rise in 3D printing's positive effect on manufacturing and an increase in production moving closer to the consumer.
Michigan Manufacturing International (MMI) specializes in supplying manufactured to print assemblies and components to OEMs. Products include assemblies, castings, stampings, machined parts, gears, bearings and more.