Bottom line: Manufacturers are chasing the best design, engineering and production talent globally while attempting to reduce costs and improve quality. Managing to these constraints is always challenging and also changing the structure of the aerospace and defense industry.
The following key take-aways are from recent series of global aerospace and defense manufacturing trends:
- ICF International found that the US is emerging as a hot spot for aerospace manufacturing after comparing its performance relative to BRIC nations. The research firm analyzed more than 2,000 investment transactions made since 2000, and its data show a strong flow into Brazil, Russia, India, China (BRIC), Mexico with aerospace investment shifting toward the United States in the last three years. Kevin Michaels, a Vice President at ICF, said “the U.S. at this point in time has become the hot spot in aerospace manufacturing.” Source: Reuters
- Aerospace manufacturing has rebounded in the United States with more than $25 billion in investments since 2012. Florida, for example, has five major aircraft facilities, military bases, along with the hundreds of aerospace and defense companies already in the state, and tens of thousands of potential employees with experience in aerospace work. By having all manufacturing done in the same proximity, companies are reducing the costs associated with overseas shipping. Source: Industry Week
- More commercial aircraft manufacturers including Boeing are increasing production sites in the US. An aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co is moving more production in-house to U.S. plants, reducing the outsourcing used for the 787 Dreamliner. Rival Airbus is building an assembly line in Mobile, Alabama. Keeping all production within the US is a major goal of these companies to reduce supply chain costs, increase quality and improve the long-term agility of their production and supply chain operations. Source: Reuters
- More US companies are shifting production from abroad back to the US across all industries. In the past decade, the US has ceded more and more of its manufacturing to lower-cost countries such as China. Some companies contend the US has renewed its attraction not only because the wages are more stable while China’s is soaring, but also want to protect designs and intellectual property, keep closer tabs on quality control and avoid potential disruption in supply chains. A few notable companies have returned production to the U.S., including Whirlpool Corp. , hand mixers; Caterpillar Inc., excavators; and Ford Motor Co. , medium-duty commercial trucks. Source: Wall Street Journal
- 15% of more than half a million new jobs in the US manufacturing results from reshoring alone, according to the Reshoring Initiative. The biggest reason for this shift back to the US is that the wage gap between Chinese and US workers is shrinking at a much faster rate. As productivity rises and automation increasingly replaces manual labor, the returning manufacturing jobs will require a higher degree of technological sophistication from the workforce. Source: Forbes
- US military people who expertise maintaining military aircraft can easily transfer those skills to the aerospace industry. As aerospace industry is growing in Washington state around Boeing, the manufacturers want to hire veterans with well-developed skills and a willingness to take on challenges that complex aircraft have inherent in their maintenance. Source: Biz Journals
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Evan Sloss is the Director of EMEA for iBASEt in the United Kingdom. His expertise lies in driving new business opportunities in the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) markets. He began his career in Product Development within the heavy equipment sector.