There’s no denying that automation is the future of manufacturing: it would be impossible, considering its pretty much the present of manufacturing as well.

And while news that “all robots will replace our jobs” in the next few years is generally overblown, it’s assured that there are profound changes coming our way very soon. However, tech doesn’t operate in a vacuum — legislators and the people will always have their say on where funding goes, what the regulations are, and how far automation can and can’t go.

These kinds of laws could affect manufacturing processes, industrial computers, robotics, environmental laws, and even Internet-of-Things devices for connected factories.

Here are just some of the few new and upcoming laws, regulations, funding initiatives, and other movements you should be aware of if you’re involved in automation or plan to be in the near future.

The Global Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing Act

In May, a group of senators authored and introduced a bill called “The Global Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing Act.”

These senators come from both sides of the aisle. The Democrat side includes Chris Coons from Delaware, Kirsten Gillibrand from New York, Gary Peters from Missouri, and Maggie Hassan from New Hampshire. On the Republican side are Cory Gardner from Colorado, Thom Tillis from North Carolina, Jerry Moran from Kansas, and Marco Rubio from Florida. They’ve partnered with a conglomeration of industrial institutes in an attempt to increase not only the number of manufacturing jobs stateside, but also the level of training, support, and environmental accountability.

The bill comes with the support of “Manufacturing USA,” a group of industrial institutes and companies from all parts of the industrial manufacturing world. Their goal and the goal of the bill is to boost production in the United States.

The bill hasn’t passed as of this writing, but it has strong support and could go a long way toward shifting some of America’s workforce away from service and information and back into manufacturing. For businesses inside of the United States, this could be a boon, boosting research and development and providing better-trained workers.

With a potential influx of manufacturing jobs coming back to the country, the tech infrastructure is about to explode. That means more automation, more industrial computers, more tech training, and the opportunity to expand.

Manufacturers outside of the US could be completely unaffected, or could potentially suffer the pinch of lost jobs or more competition.

Whichever side you’re on, this may be a bill for manufacturers to keep an eye on.

Elizabeth Warren Announces “Economic Patriotism”

Massachusetts senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has recently announced her own plans to boost manufacturing in the United States.

Of course, the plans of a potential president this far out can be taken with about the largest grain of salt you can find, it does give us a window on the kinds of policies popular candidates are considering going forward.

Warren’s idea is to essentially create a new Cabinet position and subsequent department devoted wholly to “creating and defending American jobs” (in her words). This kind of populist rhetoric has been extremely effective in political circles — one could easily make the argument that Donald Trump took the Whitehouse primarily on job promises.

It’s a multi-part plan she’s suggesting, part of which is to shuffle government money to invest $2 trillion into environmentally friendly manufacturing. This kind of policy could, of course, raise a number of questions in industry circles. Where is this money coming from? Where is it going? How would a manufacturer qualify for some of this money? How much will these new green policies cost in equipment replacement, training time, investor security, and inevitable changes to the supply chain? How would these new practices tie in with a proposed “Green New Deal” that’s turning heads right now?

With initiatives like this, and popular sentiment trending in this direction, it may already be time to investigate environmentally-friendly tech solutions like solar panels for manufacturing plants, power-efficient HMI panels and industrial computers for interfacing with production equipment, electric transportation vehicles, and a dozen other green initiatives that may not be “suggestions” for much longer.   

Warren also says she would spend $20 billion to expand apprentice programs and jobs, which could obviously tackle the shortage of blue-collar workers that has already started affecting the industry as a whole.

She’s also proposed incentives to companies moving their manufacturing jobs back to America, and potential penalties for manufacturers that don’t. Could this lead to greater automation as a direct counter — instead of spending more money on the generally higher wages of an American worker, will they instead be replaced by an American robot?

As you can see, these are questions we don’t know the answers to yet, but being prepared for a potential sea-change in industry jobs and manufacturing could benefit any business in the long run.

Stay Ahead of the Curve

The key to staying ahead of the automation trend isn’t just keeping up with the physical hardware, but with knowing how to navigate the tricky red tape that always surrounds new fields of industry. And, as in all things, knowledge is power. Keeping abreast of not only the on-the-books laws but also those that could potentially be coming down the pipe, is vital.

Even just keeping an ear to the ground, and familiarizing yourself with the current popular sentiment, can turn a potential ambush into a strong adaptive strategy.

To learn more about trends in industrial manufacturing — and how they could affect your business — contact Cybernet today.