We continue with Supply Chain Matters commentary relative to the current announcements of Q1 related revenues and earnings by reflecting on the page one headline article in last Thursday’s published Wall Street Journal, World Revs Up U.S. Profits. (paid subscription required) It again reinforces how the sustaining growth in the emerging economies has fueled a new boom in U.S. manufacturing output, and consequent revenues and profits. In the article, the chief U.S. economist for Deutsche Bank noted: “Manufacturing has been growing gangbusters.”

This new boom is being fueled by stronger sales related to the building of new infrastructure in emerging markets, which includes heavy duty trucks, building, farming and mining equipment. Also noted is a quote from an economist at PNC Financial Services Inc. stating: “The economy would be limping along, at best, without the strong manufacturing sector…”   Large global manufacturers such as Caterpillar, Eaton Corp., Honeywell International and United Technologies are each cited as example companies that are benefitting from booming sales outside of the U.S.

However, as in all aspects of this ‘new-normal’ of business recovery, there are many caution signs that could derail the current boom. Growing unrest in the Middle East, the rapid rise in energy and other key commodity products, the growing threat of inflation will all test the resiliency of this U.S. manufacturing boom. The recent earthquake that occurred in Japan has driven home the critical aspects of product sourcing risks. The crisis itself could provide either positive or negative consequences for U.S. manufacturers.

On Thursday and Friday of this week, this author is pleased to be designated as the master of ceremonies for the 2011 OpsInsight Leadership Forum being held at the Hyatt Harborside in Boston.  The conference program features a great line-up of speakers including eight different keynote speakers addressing many operations leadership topics.  Fourteen other speakers will address various topics related to product innovation, lean methods, business process best practices, management and operational leadership.

In the conference opening address, I will be touching upon where we are as operations  and supply chain executives in this ‘new normal’ of ups and downs and how important a role operations management will play in innovation and future growth for manufacturers.

I’m looking forward to the program and hope to run into some of our readers.

If you desire more information on the conference, you can click on the conference icon located on the right-hand panel of this blog.

U.S. manufacturing is on the rise but uncertainty and risk remain for the coming months.

Is your organization prepared?

Bob Ferrari