A decade ago forecasters were crying “the death of American Manufacturing”. Now it is the end of 2015, we are slowly slipping into 2016, and we are still here, still going strong, and in some very real cases, getting even better.

In 2015, manufacturing product was up by 1.9%. That’s not as significant an increase as the Manufacturing sector needed, but it is progress, nonetheless.

What does the slower growth in 2015 mean for growth in 2016? Will it be a breakout year? Or we will the industry continue to slowly improve?

Daniel Meckstroth, chief economist for the MAPI Foundation, says  “Yes, it is going to be better but it is not going to be gangbusters.” He predicts that manufacturing production should hit 2.7% in 2016.

What about additive manufacturing and the internet of things? Will these ignite the manufacturing sector in 2016? Chad Moutray, the chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers, cautions not to put too much faith in these…yet.

What will drive this growth in 2016?

Economic trends, oil production, the strength of the U.S. dollar, and even weather conditions will certainly have an impact. These factors, however, can change at any moment. Trying to predict them won’t help to improve growth in the manufacturing sector. What will improve growth is for individual companies to decide now what their focus will be in 2016, and then do everything they can to implement that.

Becky Morgan, President, Fulcrum ConsultingWorks Inc. cautions that “to work on that during Q1 2016 wastes 25% of the year you intend to advance and saps resources unnecessarily.”

Becky advises asking these important questions to get the most out of your planning.

  1. What is the most significant aspect of performance you must improve during 2016? By how much?
  2. What are the top three actions you must take to reach that objective?
  3. What is the next most significant aspect of performance you must improve?
  4. What is the top one action you must take to reach that objective?

Advanced Jiffy Machine took big steps to improve productivity and efficiency in 2015. These steps will carry over into 2016, and, along with our own focus, will continue to improve those areas.