TREND REPORT: The rise of the micro-manufacturer
Manufacturing has come a long way in the United States, which has paved the way for smaller manufacturers wanting to set up shop. The question is, how are small manufacturing businesses doing and what trends are they following?
Here is a brief look at small manufacturers in the U.S. in 2015:
Small Manufacturers in the U.S.
There are a growing number of smaller manufacturers in the United States. In fact, according to the American Small Manufacturers Coalition, there are more than 270,000 small manufacturers across the country as of 2015. And, a large percentage of those manufacturers have fewer than 50 employees. In addition, U.S. manufacturing both large and small is responsible for 60 percent of exports in the country. That's nearly 12 percent of the United States Gross Domestic Product. Based on the numbers above, it's plain to see that small manufacturing in the U.S. is a booming business.
Small Manufacturing Trends
Unlike larger manufacturers, small manufacturing businesses follow different trends when it comes to production.
By creating an atmosphere of fast and agile production schedules in combination with product customization, smaller manufacturers are able to stay afloat and compete with larger businesses. As the following article looks at, one of the 5 financial tips for starting a business is establishing the cost of products.
In order to keep production costs low, smaller manufacturers are following the made-to-order trend. Instead of keeping an inventory, manufacturers are making products on demand. This allows smaller manufacturers to customize products with each new order while avoiding overstock situations. In addition, the made-to-order trend also allows small manufacturers to decrease supply chain costs by not over ordering certain supplies and materials.
Small Manufacturing Business Examples
Although the U.S. economy has seen some ups and downs, small manufacturing businesses of all kinds are still opening their doors across the country and finding success along the way.
Here are just a few small manufacturers that went into business in the last few years:
- Enviro-Log - Located in Fitzgerald, Georgia, this earth-friendly fire log manufacturing company only has 30 employees. However, the company's product is already being carried in such stores as Home Depot, Walmart, and Sears.
- Art's Way Manufacturing - With just more than 200 employees, this farm machinery manufacturer and distributor out of Armstrong, Iowa now ships its farm machinery all across the country.
- Green Toys - With just eight employees, Green Toys out of San Francisco, California manufactures children's toys made from 100 percent recycled materials. The company, which leases manufacturing space in a few different U.S. factories, has increased its sales by 50 percent each year for the past two years.
Even though small manufacturers don't produce the same products as their larger counterparts, they have the same business goals in common. By avoiding such manufacturing pitfalls as overproduction and over processing, smaller manufacturing businesses are able to continuously meet sales goals.
Likewise, small manufacturers are increasing their quality control standards, which are resulting in fewer manufacturing defects. This allows smaller manufacturers to more accurately meet their budgeting goals by avoiding costly production imperfections. When it comes to small manufacturers in the United States, more and more businesses are finding success.
Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including manufacturing and small business.
Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing
Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing
What is Ultium Cells LLC?
Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”
Who is Li-Cycle?
Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.
As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”
Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?
By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.
“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).
"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.
"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.
Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.
"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.