Reporting on the future of manufacturing

Source: GE

Nov 21, 2011

Ninety percent of American business leaders agree that green technologies and the energy industry will power manufacturing growth in the U.S. over the next three years, along with high-tech and biotechnology, according to a survey of 360 senior industry executives about the future of manufacturing sponsored by GE and carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Ninety percent of American business leaders agree that green technologies and the energy industry will power manufacturing growth in the U.S. over the next three years, along with high-tech and biotechnology, according to a survey of 360 senior industry executives about the future of manufacturing sponsored by GE and carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The same large majority also believes that innovation will be the future driver of manufacturing growth in America with 63% of respondents stressing that innovation in manufacturing processes was extremely important to the long-term success of the U.S. as a manufacturing destination.

The polled group also agreed that business-led initiatives are the key to the future competitiveness of the industry, rather than government incentives to bolster innovation. The executives do see a role for the government in improving science and math education, offering tax incentives, and creating a better regulatory environment.

Read an excerpt from the report:

"As 2011 rolled in, manufacturing in the US appeared to be gathering momentum, propelled by continuing fiscal and monetary stimulus, as well as improving exports. Industrial production posted its biggest rise in five months in December 2010, putting it 11% above its recession low in June 2009, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). But the specter of uncertainty has shaken the fragile foundations of recovery: in August the EIU revised down its US growth forecast for 2011 to 1.7%, from 2.4%, as data revealed a much sharper slowdown in the first half of the year than previously thought. Durable goods orders also fell in the second quarter of 2011.

With darkening clouds overhead, in August 2011 the EIU conducted a survey of 360 senior executives from manufacturing firms across a range of industries. The results reveal a mixed picture. While 41% of respondents see US-based manufacturing as modestly declining – and a further 14% say it is strongly declining – 23% see the industry as stable and 22% say it is improving.

Rising labour costs in emerging markets and the US’s innovative heritage offer reason for guarded optimism in the future of the US as a manufacturing destination. “Investment in technology and innovation will create jobs and drive output for the future,” says Mike Vander Wel, manufacturing technology domain leader for Boeing, the aerospace giant headquartered in Chicago. This commitment to innovation is likewise reflected in survey respondents’ focus on ongoing investment in people, and new processes and new products that take advantage of advanced skills and technology."

Read the complete report

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