Business Notes – Issue 3, 2005

2005 Manufacturing Sector Outlook 

According to its press release in November, the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI (www.mapi.net) projects solid growth in the next two years for the U.S. economy and expects the manufacturing sector to continue to outpace the overall economy. But the pace of growth is likely to decelerate, in relation to 2004, at least in the next year.

“The surge in oil and other commodity prices and rising penetration from imported goods is taking its toll on the industrial sector,” said Daniel J. Meckstroth, Chief Economist for the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI. “Economic growth and industrial activity will grow more slowly than we previously expected for the first half of 2005. We continue to expect that business capital investment will be an important contributor to economic growth—a sign that business is confident about future business prospects.”

Manufacturing activity should continue to grow faster than the general economy, with industrial production growth expected to increase 4.1 percent in 2005. Industrial activity is predicted to accelerate to 5.0 percent growth in 2006. The largest percentage gains will come from a rebound in the high-tech sectors of manufacturing. Computers and electronic products are expected to rise 13.7 percent in 2005.

Real investment in equipment and software should increase 9.3 percent in 2005 and 8.1 percent in 2006, growing several times faster than the general economy.

Real Live Training 

Although there is increasing emphasis on Web-based training for industrial personnel on technical topics, there is still much to be said for live conferences and seminars that continue to be held throughout the United States. There are the national industry trade shows such as National Manufacturing Week and the ISA show, which always host a full complement of technical and industry-related workshops. There are also increasing numbers of regional seminars focused on an industry or a specific technology, as well as basic technical education.

For example, National Technology Transfer Inc. (www.nttinc.com) has presented nationwide public and custom seminars for over 20 years on topics ranging from PLCs to telecommunications and HVAC systems. Designed to improve company productivity and safety, a hot topic this year will be a review of the changes made to the National Electrical Code®, including the rules and articles new in 2005.

With the flurry of fieldbus networks and control communications protocols comes seminars which explain the technologies and their advantages. The PROFIBUS Trade Organization, in cooperation with the PROFIBUS Interface Center (www.us.profibus.com), conducts regional one-day technical seminars complete with product displays from several vendors.

Hands-on training with real equipment is something the Web can’t surpass yet. Learning by doing, and being guided by an experienced instructor, results in increased knowledge retention, and is usually well worth the dollars invested in travel and registration expenses.

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