Podcast: The manufacturing industry’s mid-year review – What the data says

Podcast: The manufacturing industry’s mid-year review – What the data says

July 2, 2024
In this episode of Great Question: A Manufacturing Podcast, Robert Brooks examines the manufacturing sector’s performance so far this year.

Robert Brooks, editor in chief of Foundry Management & Technology and American Machinist, has been a business-to-business reporter, writer, editor, and columnist for more than 20 years, specializing in the primary metal and basic manufacturing industries. Robert and his editorial team report on the manufacturing activities in the metal casting sector, including foundries and die casters, and the manufacturing technology sector, including machine shops and machining operations that are a part of larger OEMs. In this episode of Great Question: A Manufacturing Podcast, Robert offers three perspectives on the state of manufacturing in the first half of 2024.

Below is an excerpt from the podcast:

Usually, I take the opportunity of this podcast time to speak with a guest on a subject of practical interest to people in manufacturing, particularly to those managers, operators, and executives in small- and mid-sized manufacturing businesses whose decision-making responsibilities are not given enough attention, in my opinion. Usually, I strive for information over opinion, but today I'm going to cross that line just a little bit. 2024 has reached its midpoint, and in business, that's a good time for evaluation. And in most vertical manufacturing sectors, this has not been an especially positive year. With slow demand leading to weak revenue growth, there's a lot of ominous news about different manufacturing businesses and not a lot of clear analysis, I believe, of what is causing this, what may change it, and what might be done to address it in the meantime. I'm going to devote this brief podcast to some of the surveys and reviews I've received from different sources in the hope that some of these findings will inform manufacturers, or at least support some of the insights or conclusions they have reached from their own recent experience.

First, I refer to a new report from the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA), whose monthly leasing and finance index surveys economic activity across the equipment finance sector. They're covering the activity of manufacturing businesses, but other businesses too, who are not making a permanent investment in new equipment but are arranging long-term service through lease. This is transportation equipment, office equipment, or any type of equipment that may be of use on an ongoing basis. In May, ELFA reports that new business volume for equipment financing totaled $10.2 billion, which was up 11% from May 2023. But month over month, the new business volume was down 7% from April. And year to date, the accumulative new business volume is up 6% compared to 2023. This is consistent with other reports. 2024 has seen stability in manufacturing investment in equipment, but it's not exactly robust.

About the Author

Robert Brooks

Robert Brooks has been a business-to-business reporter, writer, editor, and columnist for more than 20 years, specializing in the primary metal and basic manufacturing industries. His work has covered a wide range of topics, including process technology, resource development, material selection, product design, workforce development, and industrial market strategies, among others. Currently, he specializes in subjects related to metal component and product design, development, and manufacturing — including castings, forgings, machined parts, and fabrications.

Brooks is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A. English, Political Science) and Emory University (M.A. English.)

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