The Industry Market Barometer, or IMB for short, “is an annual survey of buyers and sellers of products and services in the industrial market.” It looks deeply into the performance, outlook, and strategies of manufacturers, and is meant to serve as a tool for both consumers and manufacturers to better understand how manufacturing works.
This year’s IMB had a lot of interesting findings, including the following:
- Today, technology is permeating every aspect of manufacturing, from design engineering to the factory floor, and from sales and marketing to business operations.
- This year’s survey “paints a picture of a sector that is reinventing itself every day.”
- At a time when these innovations open new opportunities for manufacturers, a crack is slowly coming to the surface. The research reveals that a lack of talent from “rising generations” threatens this sector’s future vitality.
Before we get to the last point–which is something we’ve been talking about since we started our blog earlier this summer–let’s look at what ThomasNet identifies as new uses for technology in manufacturing:
- Boosting productivity with more advanced CAD (computer-aided design) software, CNC (computer numerical control) equipment, and cloud computing
- Relying on “visual boards” for quick top line views of what’s happening all over their plants
- Using smartphones and tablets to monitor inventory for stocking and pricing
- Making custom products using technologies for additive manufacturing (i.e. 3D printing)
The good news in terms of technology is that we’ve been correct in our assertions that technology is completely changing the way manufacturing works today.
The bad news is that we are also right about the skills gap, the biggest threat to manufacturing today. ThomasNet calls it a “ticking biological clock” because currently, manufacturing is heavily populated by workers who are 45 and older. If manufacturing is going to succeed, it’s going to need a significant portion of Gen Y (18-32 years old) to join the manufacturing workforce.
This report from ThomasNet is important for a number of reasons. For one, it gives a lot of facts to back up our thoughts about the skills gap. What’s more, it shows–in real terms–that technology is having a significant impact on manufacturing today.
We definitely recommend giving the report (or even ThomasNet’s detailed summary of the report) a look. We’re at a critical turning point for manufacturing, and the more informed we all are, the better.
Anyone interested in reading more about ThomasNet’s findings can read the full report here.
Photo credit: ThomasNet