Manufacturing M&A
Manufacturing Reports

Manufacturing Report 1H 2021

MANUFACTURING, CAUGHT SHORT OF MATERIALS AND LABOR

If there’s a symbol for the flaws in the global supply chain exposed by the rollercoaster COVID-19 lockdown and recovery, it’s a tourist in Hawaii headed to the beach in a U-Haul moving truck. Car rental companies across the country dumped their fleets in 2020 when nobody was traveling. When cooped up Americans burst out of the homes in 1H21, rental companies went scrambling for new cars, only to find global supply chain glitches and a shortage of essential computer chips were dragging down car production. With no chips for new cars to replace the fleets they sold in 2020, rental car companies were left without enough for a surge in travelers. In Hawaii, where rental rates were approaching $1,000 a day, wily travelers turned to a cheaper alternative, U-Haul trucks.

Across the manufacturing industry, COVID’s effects revealed how fragile the global supply chain had become, and how dependent manufacturers had become on others to provide vital parts and materials.

As we emerge from the lockdown, manufacturers are also discovering how dependent they had become on workers who – it turns out – weren’t all that happy about the old ways and may not be that eager to go back to the old jobs for the old wages. As demand for goods soared in 2021, factories were scrambling for everything from skilled labor to entry level workers…

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Manufacturing Report 2H 2020

MANUFACTURING IN 2021? WINNERS AND LOSERS, OPPORTUNITY AND CHANGE

In the manufacturing industry, it can sure look like the virus picked sides in 2020. There were losers, winners, and potentially bigger winners ahead.

In general, manufacturers were smacked hard in the first half of the year with uncertain, even fearful, consumers laser focused on necessities and stocking the pantry. Then came lockdowns, outbreaks, and the largest manufacturing shutdowns seen since World War II at home and abroad. Plants were idled, supply chains seized, and workers lost jobs.

As downtown office buildings emptied, business and employees began adapting to work-from-home arrangements. Once unthinkable, companies realized they could trust employees throughout the workforce to work at home online, sparking big changes – not only in today’s COVID environment, but potentially into the future.

Industries and employees will apparently need to adapt. For workers, spending more time in the home and the home office is looking like an unavoidable result. And manufacturers will likely need to adapt processes that were shaken by supply chain snarls and workplace outbreaks.

In a world shaken and stirred, a couple of winning segments may be emerging…

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MANUFACTURING IN 2020: DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING

If there has ever been an ode to uncertainty for the manufacturing sector, it’s 1H 2020. The first half of the year started with the threats we knew – tariffs, trade, fickle consumer habits, and the cyclical nature of the economy – and then dove head-first into the unknown realm of the global COVID-19 viral pandemic.

And if there’s a sector that responds quickly, for better or worse, to external factors, it’s manufacturing. For the record, 2020 has been the year of external factors.

Early into the pandemic, we witnessed an explosion of consumer demand for manufactured goods as people stocked up for stay-at-home orders, the heyday of the toilet paper industry. Then an unemployment rate that was well below 4% prior to the pandemic rocketed to nearly 15% by April. Even with a rebound as the half ended in June, unemployment hovered around 11%…

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Thumb-2H19-Manufacturing

QUESTIONS BECOME FACT: MANUFACTURING SLOWDOWN

In an ideal world, the performance of the Manufacturing Industry would depend solely on supply and demand, efficiency, ingenuity, and predictable economic cycles. But that is not reality. Politics, too, play a role.

In 2018, the question was whether escalating tensions among the United States and its trading partners – including tit-for-tat tariffs – would hamper manufacturing. In 2H 2019, the numbers have erased any doubt. Positioning the results of the Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Managers Index (known as the ISM PMI) over incremental tariffs and trade restrictions, it’s become apparent so-called “trade wars” have negatively impacted the sector. In August of 2018, the PMI approached 61, the highest since 2004, a strong indication of positive sentiment. As tariff spats lingered, a year later, in September 2019, the PMI indicator had slipped to a concerning 47, crossing the line from positive into negative sentiment…

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Manufacturing Report - 1H 2019

PRIVATE EQUITY SPOTLIGHT

Kinderhook Continues to Push into the Automotive Aftermarket

Since its inception, Kinderhook has now done 74 automotive related transactions and in 2019 continues its push into branded manufacturers serving the specialty and customized automotive market. Heading into this year Kinderhook already had three distinct platforms in this arena: SCA Performance – a direct-from-the-manufacturer lifted truck builder, Race Winning Brands – high-performance parts for powersports, and Bestop – a manufacturer of factory and replacement Jeep soft tops. In February 2019 Kinderhook added a fourth platform in this space, the Adell Group which manufactures aftermarket protective door edge guards for OEMs. In June Adell completed its first acquisition as a Kinderhook platform when it purchased Powerflow – a manufacturer of injection-molded automotive plastic accessories like splash guards, body side molding, and bumper protectors. Through the 2nd quarter Kinderhook has made five acquisitions across these four specialty and customized automotive manufacturers in 2019. SDR anticipates that Kinderhook will continue to announce add-ons for Adell & SCA throughout the remainder of 2019…

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Manufacturing Report - 2H 2018

TRUMP BUMP TO TRUMP SLUMP?

In our annual PMI (Purchasing Manager’s Index1) review we’ve carefully watched the impact of the Trump administration on the economic health of the manufacturing industry. At the end of 2017 we noted the correlation between the new administration (however chaotic) and the steady rise in the manufacturing outlook with a PMI of 60.8 in September 2017 being the high water mark since 2004. While PMI still indicates sector expansion, the correlation between the implementation of the recent Chinese tariffs and PMI decline is certainly evident. As the graphic below illustrates, the initial, relatively small tariffs did not seem to upset the outlook, but when $50B of tariffs became $250B of tariffs in September, a general downward PMI trend ensued.

A survey of 219 member companies of the American Chamber of Commerce in South China indicated that many manufacturers do believe tariffs are costing them millions in revenues.  The survey also revealed that most manufacturing firms are dealing with the Chinese tariffs by relocating their offshore manufacturing operations to other countries throughout Southeast Asia.  Only 1% of respondents indicated plans to re-shore manufacturing in the U.S…

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Manufacturing Report - 1H 2018

INDUSTRY DEEP DIVE: TEST & MEASUREMENT

Our increasingly connected and digitized world is creating tremendous opportunity for manufacturers of electronic test and measurement (T&M) equipment, which Frost & Sullivan recently measured as an $11bn market. In general, electronic T&M equipment measures and/or generates electric and electronic signals to test electronic components that control, use or convert power to ensure their accuracy and safety.

T&M products are critical to ensuring performance, as well as time-to-market. The accelerating speed at which technological innovations are occurring is causing greater demand for T&M equipment. The development of 5G, robotics and autonomous driving & connected vehicles are some of the applications driving sales of radio frequency (RF) and microwave equipment. Semiconductor automated test equipment (ATE) manufacturing is buoyed by increasing mobile device complexity and ever-increasing data storage needs. Electric vehicles, energy storage and wireless power transfer are driving the market for power analyzers.

One of the biggest challenges for many T&M manufacturers is transferring their historic reliance on hardware revenue to software sales as engineers now demand deeper data analytics and insights from their T&M equipment as well as the ability to seamlessly connect remotely to a wide variety of technological systems. Fluke, a leader in field test and measurement devices, has been a pioneer in building a platform of wireless connected test tools and was one of the first mainline T&M manufacturers to acquire a SaaS platform when it bought eMaint Enterprises in 2016.

In May of 2018, one of the biggest U.S. deals in T&M in some time occurred when Cohu acquired Xcerra at a $627 million Total Enterprise Value to vault Cohu into a global leadership position within the semiconductor test space – which was already highly consolidated. The merged entity now represents more than $800 million in TTM revenue and only happened after U.S. regulators blocked the sale of Xcerra to Chinese investor Hubei.

SDR believes that the continued acceleration of technological advancement and electronic connectivity globally will create significant opportunity for both M&A and disruption across the T&M landscape, particularly as T&M manufacturers look to differentiate through their software capabilities…

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Manufacturing Report - Q1 2018

Q1 INDUSTRY UPDATE

GOOD NEWS FOR ALL MANUFACTURERS, BUT ESPECIALLY THE LITTLE GUYS

In examining private equity purchases of middle-market manufacturers over the last five years, it’s certainly not a surprise to see average EV/EBITDA (Enterprise Value/Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) purchase price multiples hitting a high water mark in 2017. Across manufacturers with between $1.75mm and $30mm of EBITDA that were purchased by private equity firms, the average EV/EBITDA multiple rose to 6.9x in 2017, an 11% increase over 2016 and 0.3x above the previous annual high of 6.6x established in 2015.

Additionally, the news is especially good for smaller manufacturers. As fierce competition has driven private equity sponsors “down-market” to smaller deals, they have had to increase their valuations in order to close deals. For companies with between $7.5mm and $14mm of EBITDA, the 2017 EV/EBITDA multiple was 7.9x. This multiple exceeded the 2016 multiple of 7.5x for companies that were double their size (companies with $14mm to $30mm of EBITDA). But the news is even better for the smallest manufacturers (companies with $1.75mm to $4mm of EBITDA) purchased by private equity. Their EV/EBITDA multiple climbed from 5.7x in 2016 to 6.2x in 2017, where it matched the multiple in the same period for companies double their size.

Will private equity’s aggressive approach to the lower middle-market continue? SDR believes in 2018 the answer will be based on the massive amounts of capital that PE firms are looking to deploy. However, in the long run, it’s hard to believe that many of these manufacturing companies with limited scale can generate the types of exits these PE firms need to justify the upward trend in purchase prices…

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Q4 2017 Manufacturing Report

Q4 INDUSTRY UPDATE

A STRONG 2017 FOR U.S. MANUFACTURING

At the end of 2016, we noted that PMI (the Purchasing Managers’ Index) finished at a 2-year high of 54.7, and we expected that the combination of the “Trump Bump” and the rise in Industry 4.0 would continue to improve the manufacturing outlook in 2017. In fact, despite the chaotic nature of the incoming Presidential administration, PMI still steadily grew over the tumultuous year. The growth in manufacturing reflects the benefits of a receptive regulation-killing government, advancements in technology and re-shoring, all working in concert to create an environment where PMI increased an additional 9.1% by year’s end, to finish at 59.7.

2017 DEALS THAT WILL SHAPE THE MANUFACTURING SECTOR FOR YEARS TO COME

  1. Northrop’s Acquisition of Orbital
    Northrop Grumman announced its intent to acquire Orbital for $9.2bn to compete in the fiercely contested space travel industry. This opens up new venues in the manufacturing sector, as Northrop will be expanding to meet demand for specialized parts. The Northrop-Orbital entity is poised to become the fourth largest space vehicle contractor, behind only Lockheed, Boeing, and ULA (Lockheed and Boeing’s JV). The merger also repositions Northrop ahead of SpaceX and Blue Origin in the outfitting and mass production of space vehicles. The hope is that the existing deep relationships that Northrop holds with the US Air Force and that Orbital holds within NASA will provide an opportunity to cross-pollinate product lines across both agencies.
  2. GE Actively Selling Assets
    GE spent the year figuring out how to shed underperforming business units in a desperate desire to become more nimble, focused, and responsive. GE divested of at least $8.8bn in business units in 2017 and announced its intent to spin off an additional $20bn in assets in order to concentrate solely on its power, aviation and healthcare businesses. Speculation suggests that GE is most likely to exit lighting, transportation and oil & gas next…

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Manufacturing Report - Q3 2017

Q3 INDUSTRY UPDATE

It’s no secret that Amazon’s effect on the economy is profound. Consumers now expect products to travel from warehouse racks in the Pacific Northwest to front porches in the Southeast in less than 48 hours – for free. Additionally, they expect access to data that ensures they are paying the most competitive price for an item or service. Not all of this herculean feat can be credited to Amazon, but the behemoth is certainly symbolic, if not archetypal, of this trend.

Due to increased access to information, consumers are shifting loyalties away from specific brands to whom they have historically assigned quality, toward the specific qualities themselves. For instance, 50-60 years ago Coca-Cola was an all-American beverage with a heritage of healing the sick, refreshing the thirsty and satisfying the craving. Now, Coca-Cola is symbolic of obesity and bad diets, while LaCroix delivers bubbly refreshment to the masses without artificial sweeteners. All this to say, consumers know what they’re looking for, and they’ll prioritize “best,” “fastest” and “cheapest” based on their needs.

We think there is a clear thesis, and we, like Babe Ruth in the 1908 World Series, are calling our shot. Private label is going to grow in the U.S. Now, we aren’t really the visionaries we are making ourselves out to be, because the likes of private label grocery juggernauts Lidl and Aldi have announced massive plans for U.S. entry, Whole Foods plans to roll out “365,” and “AmazonBasics” is a top ecommerce brand in several categories, such as batteries. Private label maintains roughly 16% market share in the U.S., compared to 34% in Europe.

Private label represents an opportunity for some categories to “trim the fat.” If consumers are already seeking out a product, and they don’t need to be educated, a sophisticated brand may not be necessary, freeing up significant cost centers in the value chain. Private label brands can pass along some of this margin to the consumer, thus making the product competitive and poised to eat share…

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Q2 2017 Manufacturing Report

Q2 INDUSTRY UPDATE

In this quarter’s edition of our Manufacturing Report, we want to highlight seismic changes that we think will create tremendous opportunity for some manufacturers, but could be very detrimental to others.

Technology is enabling new platforms to consolidate and disintermediate established industries. While Uber and Snapchat have garnered all the media attention, companies like Berlin Packaging and Li & Fung have rapidly scaled to billion-dollar plus enterprise values by using technology to add efficiency to supply chains. Need packaging for your product? Berlin positions itself as a vertically integrated “one-stop-shop” for all your packaging needs. How do they do it? First, they offer consulting to help you establish the optimal packaging strategy. Then, they help you design your packaging. What’s so unique about this? Berlin essentially offers the broadest spectrum of manufacturing possibilities available in the market, but it’s not done in-house. The company essentially occupies a glorified brokerage position in the market. To their consortium of packaging manufacturers, Berlin is essentially a sales and marketing agency. To the customer, they offer a streamlined solution. And to competitors, it’s a potentially devastating threat.

Li & Fung is disrupting the traditional manufacturing sourcing model in textiles & apparel in Asia. The contemporary paradigm is for brands or private label manufacturers to offer design and sourcing capabilities, and to use agents to source a network of manufacturing capabilities throughout Asia. The arrangements with agents are usually opaque at best, and at worst, they are nothing but postulation. Li & Fung takes this guesswork out of the equation by streamlining sourcing of any manufacturing capability throughout the value chain. Li & Fung has a significant presence among retailers for private label apparel lines in Europe, and this model could very well be the next step in the U.S. It could potentially disintermediate the role of both the design agency and the manufacturing agency.

This is not to say the sky is falling. It is to say, however, that the sky is being optimized. Packaging and apparel are two examples of end markets that are being disrupted, but it’s coming to an industry near you. It’s time for many manufacturers to evaluate their “raison d’être,” and truly carve out a niche that cannot be compromised by disintermediation. If what you are doing is easily replicated, you probably won’t make the cut to be in one of these consortiums. If your robust margin profile isn’t defensible through some sort of proprietary value-add, it is probably at risk as these platforms establish more transparency in the industry.

On a positive note, this is a tremendous opportunity for many…

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Q1 INDUSTRY UPDATE

Q1 2017 Manufacturing Report

KEY DEVELOPMENTS & TRENDS

The Great Lakes Region – A Bevy of M&A Activity in Q1
The seven states that SDR classifies as the Great Lakes Region (all states that border at least one of the Great Lakes, except for New York) experienced tremendous manufacturing M&A activity in Q1 (see heat map on page 4). In fact, more than 30% of the U.S. manufacturing deals announced in Q1 happened in one of these seven states, which account for 20% of the U.S. population. A deeper dive shows that over half of the Q1 transactions in the Great Lakes region were in the Industrial segment. This increase in deal-making appears to correlate with the new administration’s promise to reshore industrial manufacturing in the Rust Belt.

ISM PMI Continues To Rise
The ISM Purchasing Manager’s Index has continued to rise. The ISM PMI hit a mark of 57.7 in February 2017, which was its highest level since October 2014. A reading above 50 indicates industry expansion. The Index was already on the rise before last November’s election, but the outlook for the U.S. manufacturing industry has certainly become more bullish under President Trump.

AI to Rapidly Expand in Industrial Processes
While AI technology is well on the way to widespread adoption for the home and lifestyle consumer segments, it now seems that the AI wave will penetrate the industrial and manufacturing landscape to a much greater extent. The robot-operated manufacturing facility that is run by human voice command is still a few years away, but Hitachi recently announced a push to develop wearable devices that recognize workers’ actions in real-time, with the ultimate goal of assisting in operations and reducing human error. Rethink Robotics is a leader in AI-centric flexible automation – the ability for a robot to be easily re-tasked to change product design for manufacturing. Rethink’s Intera 5 platform for its Sawyer robot uses computer vision so that on-the-floor workers can easily add and change the robot’s behaviors with very little training…

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Q4 INDUSTRY UPDATE

Q4 2016 Manufacturing Report

2016 ENDS WITH ISM PMI AT 2-YEAR HIGH

According to the latest ISM Purchasing Manager’s Index, U.S. manufacturers ended 2016 on a strong note. The ISM PMI rose to 54.7 in December, the highest rating in about two years. A reading above 50 indicates that the industry is expanding. The high index is representative of how manufacturers were feeling at the end of 2016 – optimistic. 2016 brought continued emphasis on U.S. manufacturers across different sectors. With the new administration and the rise in Industry 4.0, SDR expects continued improvements across manufacturing in 2017.

THE NEW ADMINISTRATION’S FOCUS ON MANUFACTURING

You can’t turn on the TV or look in the daily newspaper without seeing a headline about President Trump making a push for additional American manufacturing from companies that previously produced outside of the U.S. Whether its aggressively pushing Carrier Corporation to bring back manufacturing or meeting with large manufacturing company CEOs, seemingly on a daily basis, it is clear that President Trump’s strong focus in the beginning of his tenure is U.S. Manufacturing. With this unprecedented level of attention, we expect continued pressure for companies to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. Although this mantra helped President Trump win the election, there are multiple positive and negative consequences of this focus that we believe will affect middle-market manufacturing companies in the U.S.

SKILLS GAP FOR EMPLOYEES WILL BE AMPLIFIED FOR MANUFACTURING COMPANIES

According to NAM, approximately 80% of manufacturing CEOs cited the skills gap for its employees as the main impediment to productivity. This theme was one of the most discussed topics in 2016 for manufacturing companies. With the push by President Trump to bring back more manufacturing, middle-market manufacturing companies that already produce in the U.S. will have an even harder time finding the necessary talent and skills to maintain productivity. Training and retention will be key for middle-market manufacturing companies across the board that are looking to grow their topline through increased productivity…

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Q3 INDUSTRY UPDATE

Manufacturing M&A Report - Q3 2016

Some call it the next industrial revolution. Some say it’s just another catch-phrase for the manufacturing industry. Most are unsure about how it applies to their business. But the reality is that Industry 4.0 is a core strategic initiative being put into action by leading manufacturing firms and that companies ignoring the movement will likely fall behind the pack.

Industry 4.0 Defined

Industry 4.0 represents the fourth industrial revolution and is referred to as the “Digital Factory.” It focuses on digitizing the manufacturing industry through new forms of human-machine interactions, data gathering, data analytics and business intelligence, advanced robotics and new production methods.

The core of the “Digital Factory” is data. Manufacturing companies are realizing that throughout their processes, they hold and create a treasure trove of data. Companies implementing Industry 4.0 strategies start with a foundation of deep data analytics and business intelligence to draw conclusions. Insights gained from this data include new revenue opportunities, process inefficiencies, cost reduction opportunities and increased quality-control measures, to name a few. Industry 4.0 also encapsulates the newest trends of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, Augmented/Virtual Reality and 3D printing that can completely transform the way factories manufacture products.

How Does It Affect Middle-Market Manufacturing Companies?

To our quarterly report audience and to clients of SDR, the investment to take full advantage of Industry 4.0 is often too costly and time consuming to be practical. Although middle-market manufacturing companies will not be spending millions to develop a new picking technology using Augmented Reality (as Knapp AG has done) or attempting to utilize 3D printing to replace all of their production (as Local Motors has moved to), middle-market manufacturing companies can continually innovate their processes to better understand the data created in the process, to drive efficiencies in production and to create new revenue opportunities…

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U.S. MANUFACTURING RECOVERY

Q2 2016 Manufacturing M&A ReportThe Institute of Supply Management’s Manufacturing Index (ISM) hit its highest level in 16 months at 53.2 in June, compared to a May index of 51.3. A measure above 50 for the index indicates that manufacturing activity in the U.S. is expanding while a measure below 50 indicates contraction. The index has been on an overall rise since the beginning of this year when it hit a two-year low of 48.0, showing a strong recovery for U.S. Manufacturing.

Top of mind for many U.S. Manufacturers within the recovery is the effect of Brexit and the impact on the dollar. On June 23, ISM surveyed U.S. Manufacturers and a strong majority believe that the Brexit will have a negligible impact on their business strategy. With many U.S. Manufacturers focused on the domestic market, it’s likely that the global economic turmoil will only have a minimal to modest effect on the industry. One of the key drivers of manufacturing growth has been the strength of the U.S. consumer. Consumer confidence and consumer spending remain high in the U.S. This is most noticeably seen in the auto industry, where auto sales hit a record high in 2015, and car parts manufacturers are reaping the benefits of low gasoline prices.

A Resurgence in U.S. Manufacturing

Cost increase in China has been said to be the leading cause for increased U.S. manufacturing. However, a recent study by AT Kearney shows that the reshoring of manufacturing is not happening as fast as one would think. In fact, many global manufacturers are moving their manufacturing facilities from China to other Asian countries. According to the AT Kearney Reshoring Index, in the past five years there has been net offshoring of manufacturing (i.e., companies offshore manufacturing more often than companies returning to U.S. manufacturing)…

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Industry Overview

Manufacturing Industry vs. S&P 500 - Q1 2016Manufacturing operators are making great strides in combating the recent industry obstacles. With the U.S. dollar holding strong, continued volatility in foreign economies and labor costs rising globally, many companies are reshoring their facilities back to the U.S. The Reshoring Institute, which provides support for companies moving their manufacturing operations back to the U.S., and American Cargoservice, an international and domestic freight forwarder that provides project logistics and transporting services, announced in January that the two organizations are creating a partnership to help companies transition their operations back to the U.S. Marriott International (NASDAQ: MAR) announced in March the move of its towel production from Jordan to two facilities in the Southeast. Not only are many U.S. companies moving production back to the U.S., but many international companies are moving production to the U.S. in order to mitigate macroeconomic headwinds. Industry leader Honda Motor Company is moving a portion of production from Mexico to the U.S. with a $52 million investment in a new production facility in Indiana. Also, both ELDOR Corporation and GFF Linamar LLC are building new facilities in the U.S., ELDOR’s for $75 million and GFF’s for $217 million; combined, they are estimated to generate 700 manufacturing jobs in the U.S.

Additive manufacturing (3D printing) is becoming more of a reality. Major industry players are buying into additive manufacturing’s benefits as the technology’s capabilities have increased dramatically, become more affordable and demonstrate real production efficiencies. The benefits of additive manufacturing include shorter lead times, improved quality and reduced waste, as well as flexibility and cost savings. Stryker, a leader in medical device manufacturing, recently has begun using the technology to print one of its products and announced in January that it plans to invest $400-450 million on a 3D printing facility which is expected to be completed in 2016. In Q4 2015, GE Aviation finished modifying one of its facilities to utilize 3D printing where it has been producing parts for one of its bestselling engines. The 3D-printed edition engines are now being distributed and GE plans to continue investing $3.5 billion over the next five years to produce more advanced 3D-printed components. While the technology is still relatively young, it has developed greatly and can create components using metal, plastics, human tissue and other mixed materials.

Companies also are increasing investments in robotics as the necessary capital expenditures have been dramatically reduced for small and medium-sized businesses. Vickers Engineering, an automotive manufacturer that supplies Toyota, GM and Honda, recently automated its factory to keep up with the large automobile customer demand. Operators like Vickers have been able to automate their facilities without having a reduction in personnel. Rather, they are creating less of a need for assembly line staff and more demand for employees who can maintain and operate the newly adapted technology. With technological advancements driving increases in production efficiencies, the industry should recognize significant growth in 2016.

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