2020 started out strong for U.S. manufacturing, with a number of new plants announced at the start of the year, and the ISM’s manufacturing activity index rocketing back into expansion territory.
Then the coronavirus hit, shaking up the supply chain and hitting pause for all but the most essential operations.
The manufacturing sector shed hundreds of thousands of jobs at the height of the pandemic and industrial production hit lows not seen since the Great Depression.
Now, at 2020’s halfway mark, there are new signs of life in the sector, with factories recovering 225,000 jobs in May.
The ISM’s manufacturing activity index eased off historic lows, contracting at a slower rate, and we’ve even seen signs of domestic sourcing as manufacturers look to secure supply chains closer to home.
This post will cover some of the U.S. manufacturing expansions and new plant announcements for June 2020.
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Despite 2020 not being a particularly great year for air travel, the much-awaited Airbus plant officially opened in Mobile, Alabama on May 29th.
The massive facility encompasses 270,000 square feet, with workers there assembling the A220-100 and A220-300 Airbus models. The new plant will supply major airliners such as Delta and Jet Blue.
This also spells good news for aerospace supplier Pratt & Whitney, which will supply the power source for the new airliners.
Next up, chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), recently announced plans to establish a semiconductor manufacturing facility in Arizona.
The contract chipmaker will build the $12 billion next-generation facility with help from the state of Arizona and the U.S. government. The facility plans to hire 1,400 workers and will produce 20,000 semiconductor wafers per month once operational in 2024.
Interestingly, in a move destined to further chill trade relations between China and the United States., the U.S. Bureau of Industry will be restricting smartphone giant Huawei from using chips made at the plant.
Meanwhile, in Phoenix, engineering and manufacturing services provider Benchmark, announced the opening of an advanced electronics facility that will focus on advanced electronic systems for a spectrum of industries, including defense, medical and telecommunications.
The new plant will specialize in services like microelectronics assembly, system integration and rapid prototyping.
Heading over to Colorado, USA Rare Earth announced it was opening a rare earth and critical minerals processing facility in Wheat Ridge, CO. The pilot plant will focus on first separating rare earths into heavy and light categories and further separating into high-purity rare earth compounds.
The facility will also collect non-REE compounds such as lithium, beryllium and aluminum. Rare earth compounds are materials critical to manufacturing electronic components for rechargeable batteries, magnets, florescent lighting, cell phones and more. Rare earths have historically been sourced from China, but the need to establish domestic sources of rare earths has come into greater focus in recent years.
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Some good news emerged for the Show-Me State last month when Quaker Window Products opened its new factory in Eldon. Quaker Window, a manufacturer of aluminum, wood and vinyl doors, headquartered in Freeburg, MO, announced the purchase of the Eldon property back in October of 2018.
The new 200,000 square foot plant will produce windows for the commercial market and fully shift production of residential windows to its Freeburg location.
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Meanwhile, digital signage maker Plainview LED announced last week that it opened a new assembly plant in Chattanooga.
The company purchased the 10,500 square-foot facility in March and moved quickly to renovate the facility, despite the unprecedented climate caused by the coronavirus. As reported by The Chattaoogan, Derek Markey, Plainview’s COO said “The ‘pause’ in the economy allowed us time to devote 100 percent attention in improvements, inventory and streamline [the] assembly process. We expanded our operations as others slowed down.” This is the company’s first assembly plant in the U.S.
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