With the onset of Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing technologies, staying in the know about new manufacturing technology insights is more important than ever. The manufacturing industry is undergoing a digital transformation, and advanced manufacturing technologies are being implemented at companies throughout the country. The Southeast U.S., in particular, has attracted several advanced manufacturing operations within multiple industries, including automotive, aerospace and electric vehicles.
These trends show how manufacturing is continuing to grow and thrive within this region, driving economic development and supporting industry innovation. Learn what manufacturing technology insights and trends are prominent in Southeast manufacturing.
Aerospace manufacturing has a significant presence in two Southeast states: Georgia and North Carolina. These two states combined are home to more than a thousand aerospace companies, and the largest portion of those businesses is in the manufacturing sector.
Aerospace businesses were woefully underprepared for the pandemic’s effect on the industry, so companies are now shifting their priorities to prepare for expected future disruptions. New strategies involve diversifying customer portfolios to expand outside of commercial-only services, and implementing advanced manufacturing technologies to ensure flexibility and resilience during unpredictable events.
Automotive companies are increasingly viewing the Southeast as an ideal place for manufacturing operations. This includes traditional automotive production as well as electric vehicles. American electric vehicle (EV) automaker Rivian has plans to build an EV manufacturing plant in Georgia. And Canadian GreenPower Motor Co. is going to start manufacturing electric school buses in West Virginia.
As the industry focuses more on electric and autonomous capabilities, automotive companies are turning to the Southeast to build more manufacturing plants. The region offers more opportunity to buy land and build a new facility rather than modifying an existing one. This option is appealing to auto manufacturers who need a space that can meet the multifaceted needs of the advancing automotive industry.
Though the Southeast U.S. has a significant advanced manufacturing workforce, the region is facing the same struggles as the rest of the country when trying to find enough skilled workers to fill positions. Certain organizations in the Southeast, such as the North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership, work to support and fund manufacturing industry training initiatives to combat this issue.
Workforce development programs throughout the Southeast involve pipelines from universities and trade schools to meet current manufacturing labor needs. However, these training initiatives also focus on developing manufacturing skills related to advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and automation. Several Southeast universities with competitive engineering programs are facilitating these initiatives, including Duke, Georgia Institute of Technology, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State University and more.
Onshoring and Reshoring
With the supply chain problems caused by the pandemic, manufacturing companies are seeing the value in onshoring and reshoring operations back to the U.S. to avoid the volatility of long supply chains. One study from 2021 found that 83% of North American manufacturers are likely to reshore their supply chains. For the same reason, foreign companies with strong ties to the American economy are investing in building new factories in this country. For example, Samsung bought and expanded a facility in South Carolina, Toyota plans to build an automotive battery plant in North Carolina, and both Ford and GM are building automotive battery and vehicle manufacturing locations in Tennessee.
This extensive manufacturing investment in the Southeast U.S. includes the implementation of new advanced technologies. New factories are being equipped with smart manufacturing technologies during the building process, ensuring these facilities maintain a competitive edge during the manufacturing industry’s digital transformation.
With so many new and revamped manufacturing facilities being built throughout the Southeast, the region will soon have a number of smart factories. These factories utilize the latest automation technologies, control production with digital systems, and coordinate operations with smart machine sensors and software programs. The addition of these factories will turn the Southeast into a smart manufacturing hub.
To learn more manufacturing technology insights about the Southeast, attend SOUTHTEC.