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U.S. Manufacturing is Building up a Head of Steam

U.S. Manufacturing is Building up a Head of Steam

Economic factors, advanced technologies, and stronger-than-ever demand for ‘Made in America’ are fueling the rise

In case you haven’t noticed, manufacturing is building up a head of steam in the United States. A number of factors, including lower energy prices and the strength of the U.S. dollar, are helping to put American manufacturers on more solid footing. And many domestic manufacturers are becoming more competitive with overseas suppliers through investments in advanced manufacturing technologies—such as robotics, automation, 3D printing, and software/IT, including data analytics—that improve their productivity, flexibility, and capacity, freeing them up to tackle engineering and other value-added work.

“There is kind of a renaissance of manufacturing in the U.S., and we are definitely seeing a lot more interest in manufacturing staying here or coming back,” said Jeff Owens, president of Advanced Technology Services, Inc. (ATS), a Peoria, Ill.-based company that provides services to help manufacturers increase their capacity, productivity, and efficiency. “I think there are a lot of reasons for that. The energy prices and the availability of energy is one thing. The changes that are going on in China, and maybe just the world at large, and security concerns, and just a wide variety of things are kind of driving people back to manufacturing in the U.S., and I think the strength of the dollar has a big impact on that also.”

Against this economic backdrop—and, to some extent, closely interwoven with it—is the realization by a growing number of manufacturers that in the United States, demand for ‘Made in America’ is stronger than ever. Although the demand has always been here to some extent, it’s been strengthening in recent years along with greater awareness of manufacturing’s role in the U.S. economy, particularly as a powerful creator of jobs, and its reputation for high quality parts and products.

“Made in America certainly means quality, reliability, it means jobs in North America,” said Stephen Vairo, president and CEO of Calumet Electronics, a maker of printed circuit boards in Calumet, Michigan, a town of about 3,000 people in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. “It’s important. This country was founded on manufacturing, and I think it continues to be an important part of our economy, and I don’t think that being a service-driven industry or economy is good in the long run for our country.”

Claudia Bailey Honeycutt, marketing director for Spruce Pine, N.C.-based Buck Stove and its in-house powder coating and fabricating business, Tri-State Powder Coating & Fabrication, told D2P that she’s seeing more demand these days for American-made products, as well as parts, such as the fabricated parts made by Tri-State Powder Coating and Fabrication. She believes a lot of the demand has to do with the quality of American-made parts and products versus those made overseas.

“People are looking for quality, they’re looking for American-made, they’re looking for a company that they can walk in the door and see how it’s made. They’re looking for a company that they can call on the phone and talk to a human being, not an automated system that just goes to 14 different push buttons, but a real live person. We use technology every possible way that we can, but for us, our greatest resource is the human touch. So yes, people do look for American-made products, definitely. Am I going to go buy something that’s come over on a container from overseas, that there’s going to be no service, there’s going to be no guarantee on it, and it might be a little cheaper, maybe, but is it going to last? I’ll pay just a little more on the front end to have a quality product.”

------ from D2PMagazine

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