How Factory Automation Can Support Reshoring

How Factory Automation Can Support Reshoring

Once a basic building block of the U.S. economy, manufacturing has been lost for far too long. But the industrial internet of things (IIoT) brings hope as smart factories could make local manufacturing cost-effective once again.

According to the Reshoring Initiative, the US alone has lost, on average, 220,000 manufacturing jobs per year. This equates to roughly three to four million manufacturing jobs lost to offshoring initiatives since 2000. As companies start to reevaluate their manufacturing decisions, they’re examining factors including product quality, the stability of their supply chains, and proximity to customers. Since 2010, roughly 249,000 manufacturing jobs have been reshored. The U.S. isn’t alone in this trend.

But factory automation technologies are bringing hope. Smart factories can bring enhancements to productivity, quality and reliability, and operational efficiency. While technical skill sets will also be needed, IIoT technologies can help level the playing field by bringing a cost advantage to local manufacturing.

Maxim is one of many vendors contributing technologies such as our Pocket IO PLC development platform. Using this reference design, which literally fits in your pocket, you can quickly create a prototype for virtually any type of industrial control system. The IIoT is driving the need for more connected sensors, actuators, and control systems. Sensor data, in turn, will be analyzed in depth to enhance the entire manufacturing process. But this also means that programmable logic controllers (PLCs) must be designed with more functionality in much smaller enclosures with better power efficiency. This where solutions like the Pocket IO platform, which taps into the latest chip integration technology, can help. 

Read my article in Embedded Computing Design, “Reshoring and Leveling the Manufacturing Playing Field,” to find out what else is needed to create more local manufacturing opportunities.