The U.S. economy isn’t exactly soaring. In fact, it grew only 1.4 percent in the second quarter of 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. That’s up from 1.1 percent in the first quarter. Times are especially tough for the manufacturing industry, which faces its own set of challenges, per a recent National Association of Manufacturers economic report. Sales have decreased 1.3 percent since August 2015 (on a year-over-year basis) and demand for core capital goods declined 3.1 percent over the past 12 months.
Yet despite the tough economic environment, pockets of companies in the industry report growth and global expansion. In the 2016 State of Manufacturing Technology Report based on a survey of nearly 200 manufacturers, approximately 90 percent had achieved growth over the past five years, and 35 percent reported growth of 20 percent or better.
So what's driving this growth?
Well, nearly half the respondents directly attributed their company’s growth to the use of technology. Technology is used by manufacturers for everyday operations to drive efficiency, improve quality, and deliver on customer demand. It is also used to expand worker mobility, and provide the data-driven insights to fuel timely decisions on everything from business operations to supply chain management to the development of new products.
Companies like MFC Netform, manufacturer and supplier of powertrain parts for the automotive and agricultural industries, decided to invest in cloud-based manufacturing ERP even when times were tough. The company not only saved on IT spending by moving software and hardware to the cloud, but as a result was able to pivot its best IT resources to high-value technical gaps that needed to be addressed—like mining its data to identify areas where it can capitalize on customer demand faster than competitors.
Another company, Quatro Composites, manufacturer of advanced composite structures for the aerospace, medical, and industrial markets, moved to cloud ERP to automate its manual processes, but then discovered a new secret weapon: its business data. The company can now collect as much data as possible in its centralized cloud database, and then produce reports and dashboards.
ERP technology has enabled these manufacturers to better compete, lead, and innovate. They are also poised to leverage new technologies like smart devices, 3D printers, and location-aware devices such as iBeacons to enhance operations and improve the bottom line—creating the very foundation that promotes growth.
See how manufacturers are driving growth with technology. Download: 2016 State of Manufacturing Technology Report.