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Manufacturing 2017: The Changing Face of Manufacturing

About two decades ago many larger companies began to move outward, taking their businesses with them and in so doing, damaging the face of America in many ways. The situation today is very different from that even scant ten years ago when those who had not moved out to put their manufacturing plants offshore, were in the process of offshoring. Today, given the many changes, it appears that many of the companies who moved just 10-15 years ago are now considering reshoring, or near shoring and many have already done so.


There are many reasons for these moves from higher shipping costs, rising wage and production costs in off shore locations to increased efficiency through technology and other such advances. This all means that the cost of manufacturing and operations in the home factories is also lower.


Today we’re seeing many companies moving their businesses back home as well as changing what they do in the face of massive changes in technology. The technological changes that are taking place include:

Improved IoT providing for better and faster movement inside the factory as well as the ability to change things inside the factory from miles away. It also allows us to be fully automated. PLCs are available that can change and correct problems prior to their actually taking place, allowing for better maintenance and better flow in the factory and on the factory floor. This saves money for the manufacturing company and allows them to have fewer employees, as well as to have a more streamlined business that can be run in a much smaller space.


In addition to this, advances in robotics are helping everyone to move products to market more quickly and easily. Robotics are now helping in the warehouses of manufacturing companies while also helping to move the products to the stores. Just a few months ago a fully automated truck drove products to the market place several hundred miles away in a test that changed the face of warehousing, logistics and supply quite fully.


As advances in technology and lower prices in warehousing, logistics and supply and the factory automation continues to change the face of manufacturing it will provide for the return of many companies to the United States where prior to now they were unable to be as profitable here as they were in offshore areas.


This is of course the positive news there are however hurdles and headaches that come with these moves.  This is proving to be the largest obstacle and it is talent shortage.  We will be addressing this issue in our next article as well as what steps can be taken to mitigate these issues.


If you are an employer facing these issues of and need to attract & retain top talent or you are looking for that next career opportunity, we will assist.  Schedule a 15-minute triage call today and discuss what can be done to take you to that next level.


James Kemper is the president of W. H. Meanor & Associates, an executive placement & training company specializing in engineering & manufacturing careers.  He can be reached at: or 704-372-7640 #102 or visit at