There has been an ongoing national conversation about bringing manufacturing back to the United States. The government, states, educators, and organizations have been pushing a resurgence through, addressing many of the roadblocks facing these organizations, including: lack of skilled labor, decreased sales, advancing lean manufacturing, integrating additive manufacturing, robotics, IoT and Big Data.
The middle-market manufacturers – primarily in the Midwest, in the range of $50-$500m in revenues, employing 10-800 people – face a unique set of challenges. While the advancement of things like 3D printing and robotics will undoubtedly change the manufacturing landscape, these manufacturers face much more basic challenges to compete – and more accurately – survive the next 3-5 years.
This isn’t about the “skills gap”, or “robots taking jobs”, or “offshoring”, or even “regulation burdens”. Those challenges are further downstream for these manufacturers. Today’s issues are much more fundamental. The advancements in digital technologies, communications platforms, and simply the Internet, have dramatically impacted business operations and overall competitiveness. The “blocking-and-tackling” of things like: embracing change, utilizing technology platforms, digitizing information, and fostering an innovative culture, are the true essentials for US middle-manufacturing growth. Here’s a short list of those essentials: