December 22nd, 2016
Area Development Online
Site and Facility Planning Insider
Cobots Driving Innovation and Growth
According to the Brookings Institution’s annual report — America’s Advanced Industries: New Trends — digitization is pervading all fields of industry. Robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), advanced materials, and other technologies are helping “the advanced industries sector…at once develop and utilize the nation’s transformative technologies,” says Mark Muro, senior fellow and director of policy for the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings.
PwC’s Industry 4.0 survey of 2,000 participants from nine major industrial sectors and 26 countries also takes a look at digitization of industrial manufacturing. Among its findings, robotics, cobotics, 3D printing, and nanotechnology have direct relevance for many industrial manufacturing applications, while other technologies — such as augmented reality — can enable manufacturers to give customers real-time information and training at point of use.
The implications of these findings are explored in the Q4 issue of Area Development magazine. Stephen Gray, president and CEO of Gray Construction, explains how advanced technologies and robotics are shaping the future of manufacturing making factories more efficient and productive than ever. However, because of the complexity of many of today’s processes, human workers are complemented — not replaced — by their robotic counterparts, says Gray.
Stephen Thompson, senior economic office at Ontario’s Ministry of International Trade concurs. Advancements in the robotics industry are reshaping the way humans and machines interact. These “cobots” augment the complex and intelligent work done solely by humans, Thompson notes. Additionally, a human-machine study conducted by MIT researchers at a BMW factory has shown that teams made of humans and robots collaborating efficiently can be more productive than teams made of either humans or robots alone.
The Top Site Selection Factors of 2016
Consequently, the ability to source skilled labor is still a primary concern for growing companies. In fact, availability of skilled labor was the number-one site factor considered by those responding to Area Development’s annual Corporate Survey. Analysis of this factor, along with all the top-10 location factors can be found below.

Happy Holidays,



Gerri Gambale
Editor, Area Development

Top Site Selection Factors OF 2016

#1: Availability of Skilled Labor


Last year: #5

It pretty much goes without saying that any operation — new or expanding — will need an adequate supply of workers who have whatever skills are required to do the job well.
Read the whole story...

#2: Highway Accessibility


Last Year: #1

It is, of course, no coincidence that nearly all of the nation’s biggest manufacturing facilities and distribution centers can be found alongside major highways.
Read the whole story...

#3: Quality of Life


Last Year: N/A

What constitutes quality of life depends largely on the eye of the beholder, and that eye may gaze through different lenses at different times.
Read the whole story...

#4: Occupancy OR Construction Costs


Last Year: #2

It’s easy to see why occupancy or construction costs are a factor that a lot of people are keeping an eye on...these costs are trending upward.
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#5: Available Buildings


Last Year: #4

People expect near-instant delivery on just about everything these days, and companies seeking new facilities are more likely than ever to want to pick a location and have it up and running as quickly as possible.
Read the whole story...

#6: Labor Costs


Last Year: #6

How labor cost impacts total cost depends on the type of project being considered—headquarters, data centers, call centers/back office, retail, warehouse/distribution, manufacturing, etc.
Read the whole story...

#7: Corporate Tax Rate


Last Year: #10

In today’s world, corporate decision-makers want to invest in areas with a “fair” tax structure.
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#8: Proximity to Major Markets


Last Year: #8

With the ever-growing passion for faster customer delivery, proximity to major markets is becoming an increasingly important site selection factor.
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#9: State and Local Incentives


Last Year: #11

States are highly competitive with each other for investments and jobs and therefore offer incentives that can help offset project and operating costs and make a significant impact in the final decision.
Read the whole story...

#10: Energy Availability and Costs


Last Year: #9

Energy availability and costs are important for every project, but especially critical for industries that consume large amounts of energy, such as manufacturing, distribution, and data centers.
Read the whole story...


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