The Trump administration is promising to protect U.S. manufacturers, having recently laid out preliminary plans to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The plan is not fully complete, with only the top-level goals listed; these include revisions to NAFTA’s trade origins rules, including a chapter on the digital economy goods, and a stated intent to lower the trade deficit with other nations. This is accompanied by changing policies centered on manufacturing labor, environmental obligations, and oversight.
On July 17, President Trump vowed to boost U.S. manufacturing by cutting the $64 billion trade deficit with Mexico. Two days later, the administration announced its intent to reduce the $347 billion trade deficit with China by selling more U.S. goods directly to country.
While most of the promises have yet to go into full effect, manufacturers have already offered their thoughts on how the new administration regulations would affect their business. In a market study conducted by Exact, a division of Macola ERP, more than 400 medium and large businesses were surveyed about how the new regulations and the emergence of new technology will impact them in the future. The accompanying infographic from Exact highlights the results.
New Administration Trade Plans
Pricing of goods. As indicated by the survey, 24% of respondents have lowered prices in anticipation of the changes in the last few months, while 29% have raised prices.
Labor forces. Of the manufacturing companies that answered the survey, 26% have halted plans to open new global offices, 19% have accelerated these plans, and 32% have planned on hiring more U.S.-based employees.
Emerging technology. 33% of the respondents invested in new technology infrastructures in 2016.
Future outlook. The future of manufacturing is optimistic among business leaders. 50% said that changes such as deregulation would benefit manufacturers. 22% said there would be no improvement, while 27% are still unsure.
Automation. 77% of respondents reported that by implementing new automation standards, they they saw greater average revenue gains in 2016 compared to those who do not automate. 81% of respondents noted that automation has also improved employee productivity.
Technology drives change. While the new regulations have pushed companies to implement changes in the manufacturing industry (ranking third at 38%), the biggest driver is still emerging technology and IT innovations at 72%. Pending infrastructure improvements came in second at 42%.
Wearables. This technology is on the rise, with 70% of respondents currently utilizing smart watches and interactive glasses like Google Glass or Microsoft HoloLens in their operations. They cite production efficiency, cost savings, and worker safety as the areas positively affected by implementation
Enterprise Resource Planning. 91% of respondents currently using a Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system have found the software to be extremely valuable across operations.
Amazon. The online retail seller is the biggest competition on the market, with 92% of wholesale distributors either strongly agreeing or somewhat agreeing. 74% of respondents view the impact as resulting in customer demand for faster delivery times.
The Internet of Things (IoT). The impact of IoT systems and connected devices continues to grow as 58% of wholesale distributors are currently using connected machinery, while 55% have made use of tablets with voice recognition to place orders.
Automation. 97% of wholesale distributors either strongly agree or somewhat agree that using automation for business processing and best practices has allowed them to better service customers.
Both industry reports are now available for download here from Exact Software.