What are the upcoming trends for manufacturing in 2015?

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The holiday season is a time for shopping, visiting friends and family, as well as giving back to the community. For businesses, it's an opportunity to take stock and look ahead to the next year. With the outlook being optimistic for manufacturers, there are major trends that they should be on the look out for in the next 12 months. Competition is growing and being able to stay ahead with a Dynamics NAV implementation can make a difference in spending the next year profiting and growing.

Bringing back their jobs
In many ways, one of the standout stories for 2014 was the return of American manufacturing. This is in part because China, has suffered from major surges in labor costs. The great tactical advantage the most populous nation in the world had over the U.S. and other countries has declined drastically to the point that it is now only somewhat better to offshore operations. IndustryWeek Magazine notes an inherent rise in shipping costs as well, which further offsets any benefits from this well-known practice.

In addition, changes to consumer demands have meant that people want products and parts as soon as possible. This has brought a rise in the practice of "next-shoring," which is expected to make a greater appearance in 2015. This idea means that not only are distribution operations much closer to customers, but so are production facilities, minimizing the amount of time between receiving an order and placing it in the hands of the consumer. In turn, this has brought an increase in jobs throughout the country.

Aiding this practice is the maturation of 3-D printing technology. No longer limited to prototyping, companies are now able to develop actual parts intended for use in everyday products and goods. They have become more precise, requiring less machining and adjustments after items are printed. If a customer needs something specific, he or she can get it relatively quickly and easily. This is particularly useful in certain verticals such as plastics and process manufacturing, according to Manufacturing.net.

Money and technology, hand in hand
Another major trend that will affect manufacturing in 2015 is infrastructure investments. One of the major setbacks in the Great Recession, even before manufacturing made a major revival, was the lack of capital going into new equipment, factories, warehouses and other needed components for production and distribution. While the recovery has been slow, there is some reason to believe that in the next year, capital investment will increase significantly.

With more people working in the manufacturing sector, there is a need for equipment that will help them be more productive. Warehouse Insight that works with smartphones and other devices, for example, will help develop an efficient means of handling distribution and fulfillment. Better deployments of ERP software, such as the new Dynamics NAV 2015, can also help businesses better handle the influx of orders and sales expected in the next 12 months.

To discuss Microsoft NAV solutions for manufacturing, join the Microsoft Dynamics NAV for Manufacturing LinkedIn group.