In the years of the last United States recession - 2007 to 2009 - the manufacturing industry took a very hard hit. But in the time since, the sector has become a solidifying piece of the shaky U.S. economy that is slowly continuing its five-year rebound.
Manufacturing Is Almost Back To Pre-Recession Levels
According to a study in Supply Chain Digest, the last quarter saw nation-wide manufacturing output approaching that of the industry's peak performance level in the early part of 2007. Making sure the supply chain is protected is a critical operation for company management and staff. Avoiding, in industry parlance, the Black Swan events that can cause irreparable havoc and significant downtime is something company managers need to take very seriously if they don't already, said a report in the Business Reporter.
Risk Awareness Is Key
John Manners-Bell head of research firm Transport Intelligence, told Business Reporter that companies need to protect their infrastructure and data collection equipment from natural forces and be expert in any other risks to their supply chain.
"Risks could be a natural disaster, such as a flood or a tsunami," Manners-Bell said. "It could be a security issue. If you are manufacturing goods in the emerging markets, there is more likelihood of corruption, cargo crime and even piracy. These are some of the major risks, which until recently companies did not cost in."
Bell added that high-tech sector risk is huge because most supply chain operations are in emerging markets. Smaller and burgeoning markets often have challenges like susceptibility to natural disasters and vulnerable security. Bell also said that supply chains are becoming regionalized and much more local.
"It is partly due to risk," Bell explained. "Also, as production becomes more automated - the more robotics used, the increased use of 3D printing - that is all going to have an impact and make things less labor-intensive and increase productivity, which means there will be more goods manufactured in the developed world."
Automated data collection, for example, is one area where new technology is making it faster and more efficient for companies to identify problems in the chain before they get out of control.
One of the great aspects of the explosion of new technologies and other IT components is all types of state-of-the-art products are available to help companies streamline their supply chain. Using highly-developed software can really make a difference for a company suffering distribution issues.