The recession may be over, but not every industry has put economic uncertainty behind it. While many indicators continue to improve in a variety of business sectors, conditions are still volatile in many ways. Because the fiscal environment is constantly changing, companies need to create strategies to keep themselves forging ahead, even when times get tough.
For leaders in the manufacturing industry, deploying manufacturing software is one way to achieve great results, no matter what economic conditions may exist. While a wealth of factors come into play, managers must take control of the elements they can by ensuring they can create invoices, fulfill work orders, keep track of inventory and complete employee-related duties easily and accurately. By using manufacturing technology, leaders can streamline their organizations' operations, reducing the chance of error and supporting growth.
For the manufacturing industry, recent indicators have pointed to constant but slowing growth. According to Markit, the U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell 4.6 percent in April, down to 52.1 from 54.6 in March. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion, though the report noted April's figures were the weakest since October of last year.
Despite this fact, experts remain optimistic. Markit chief economist Chris Williamson pointed to bright spots such as the steady improvements to export orders, which held at 51.8 from March to April, and the fact that, as inflationary pressures ease, manufacturing demands are likely to remain high.
Still, prudence may be important.
"Manufacturers had reported the best quarter for two years in the first three months of the year, but a steep downturn in growth of orders in April suggests that this impressive performance could be short lived," Williamson explained. "Firms have responded quickly to weaker growth of orders by limiting growth of both output and employment."
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) announced that its index of manufacturing activity dropped for April, down from 51.3 percent in March to 50.7 percent. While this rating still shows growth, the firm noted that April was the slowest month so far in 2013. Additionally, hiring measures decreased to 50.2 percent from 54.2 percent in March. The ISM added that more positive news included continued strong results in auto production and consumer confidence. Better public sentiment about the economy, paired with falling gas prices, could drive demand.
In order to keep their own outlooks positive, manufacturing organizations should use manufacturing management software to optimize their processes.