Midwestern manufacturers expect continued industry growth

Fleet management software is a valuable tool in the manufacturing industry regardless of current economic conditions. Companies that depend on the ability to ship raw materials and heavy-duty goods across the country can always benefit from tools that increase the speed of deliveries without compromising efficiency or exceeding operational budgets.

However, economic fluctuations often have a profound impact on shipping activity in the manufacturing industry. For example, when businesses start producing more goods, they typically require more materials. With the right software programs, fleet managers can successfully meet an increase in demand by ensuring all available trucks are able to make deliveries on the fastest route possible.

The most recent data measuring manufacturing activity in the Midwest suggests the industry is on the cusp of a substantial growth period. In fact, the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago, a nonprofit organization, reported in its monthly gauge of regional productivity that manufacturing operations increased 55.7 points in September to 65.9 points in October. According to Fox Business, industry experts predicted activity would actually decline to 55 points during the same time period. Instead, this latest reading is the highest since March 2011.

Business activity up, but confidence still relatively low
Star Tribune, a newspaper published in Minnesota, also reported factories throughout the Midwest have experienced an increase in sales over the last few months. However, the article cited recent research from Creighton University that said confidence among business managers and executives in the industry continues to be relatively low despite such growth.

"Uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the budget stalemates in Congress are causing firms to be much more cautious about hiring and have encouraged layoffs and cuts in hours worked," Ernie Goss, author of Creighton's business conditions report, told Star Tribune.

Advanced dispatch software can help fleet managers boost confidence in their operations when current economic and political conditions lead to an overall hesitance to hire more workers. For example, rather than worrying about finding enough drivers to make deliveries, businesses can utilize technology to automate the assignment process and ensure all available drivers are able to make shipments on deadline.

Preparing for future growth
Overall economic activity in the U.S. has been slow compared to years before the Great Recession. Despite the uncertainty related to how the ACA will impact manufacturers throughout the Midwest and the rest of the country, many industry experts expect these most recent measurements to be a sign of continued growth over the next several months.

Insurance Journal said the Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index has already increased steady for two straight months. In fact, these trends could have a positive impact on fueling the economy in nine major manufacturing states in the Midwest.

"Taking this month's headline data, the strong subindexes and the upward momentum in many of the regional manufacturing sectors, there is a base of evidence building that shows that activity in the sector is accelerating," Thomas Simons, vice president of global investment banking firm Jefferies, told Star Tribune.

How transportation software fits into the picture
All of these signs point to the importance of investing in advanced technology to prepare for an expected increase in shipping activity in the transportation and fleet management industries. With the right logistics software program, businesses can successfully increase productivity without raising overhead costs. Investing in warehouse distribution technology can also make it easier to organize shipments from multiple sources, which will ultimately lead to greater operational efficiency. As a result, manufacturers and freight owners alike can take full advantage of improved economic conditions to generate more revenue and foster long-term growth.