What does the future hold for the manufacturing industry in the west?

America has a great history when it comes to her manufacturing industry, being innovative in a great many fields. Innovation is often held to be the key element in manufacturing success, but those looking to continually innovate and explore new frontiers may be missing a trick.

The manufacturing industry today

Despite America’s continuing and constant search for new products and new methods of manufacturing, it is surprising to learn that she is not a world leader in the sector. In fact, it is Germany that is leading the way in the manufacturing world, and this is due to her reliance on seeking innovation within existing markets, rather than seeking to create new ones. This has led to an incredible rejuvenation of otherwise failing sectors within Germany, and the manufacturing industry accounts for at least 22% of the German workforce.

Why has Germany been so successful at innovating within existing sectors? Because they are doing so with small and medium-sized businesses, a group of companies that account for approximately 60% of all German jobs. America seems to favor the big corporations that are trying to always think outside of the box, while German SMEs simply look to improve the box they are already in.

Of course, the world is changing and America, once the owner of the largest manufacturing sector in the world, has been overtaken by China, which has a considerably larger workforce and is able to produce goods more cheaply. America needs to be quicker at understanding the new technologies that are available to them, and see where new trends are heading.

One company that has embraced innovation is Transducer Techniques. They offer niche, high quality products that are vital for all types of manufacturing. They focus on what they do best and how they can improve it, without necessarily looking how they can expand their business or diversify. Another company that demonstrates this kind of thinking is Blue Spark Technologies, who took the experience gained in making an ordinary battery to develop eco-friendly printer batteries that are compact and flat, extremely flexible and have an almost unlimited number of applications. Other companies can learn from their success by prioritizing the quality of their offering rather than the quantity, and going back to basics by getting to grips with the knowledge needed to produce goods, understanding that this approach aids innovation. Many businesses are realizing that it is the ability to come up with new ideas for existing sectors that can really make the difference in the US manufacturing industry. In the future, there is going to be less focus on the process of making a product and more input in coming up with and developing ideas. For example, computer programmers and engineers are going to be much more in demand for the skills they can bring to the industry.

America has fallen a little behind in the manufacturing industry stakes over the past few years, but she may be able to regain her position if she stops trying to grow ever bigger and concentrates instead on improving existing manufacturing opportunities.

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