Making The Grade: How Indiana Manufacturers Are Leveraging Science & Medicine to Graduate Top of Class

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In Indiana, manufacturing is king.

From automotive to medical device manufacturing, and a growing focus on research and development and life sciences, Indiana is a resilient leader in American manufacturing.

More than any other state in the Union, manufacturing accounts for nearly 30% of Indiana’s gross state product, producing over $95 billion in state revenue in 2014 alone.

And what’s more, over $50 billion of Indiana’s annual export revenue stems from manufacturing.

“Indiana is doing a lot of things right,” says the National Association of Manufacturers’ chief economist Chad Moutray in a recent interview with INDYStar.

“When you look at the overall business environment in Indiana, it’s pretty clear the policies are geared toward attracting business. When you set the right climate for business, you’re going to see economic development as a result.”

Indiana Manufacturing Output in Billions


  • Hoosier (n.) --- Hearty. Resilient. Self-Reliant.

In a span of 50 years, from the mid-1960s to about 2012, Indiana lost more than 30% of its manufacturing jobs.

But that doesn’t mean the state’s manufacturing sector is struggling in the modern manufacturing marketplace.

Instead, with the advent of advanced manufacturing and robotics, as well as the increased connectivity of the manufacturing world through the Internet of Things, Indiana has discovered a scalable process to be perennially resilient and self-reliant within its manufacturing sector.

“Indiana successfully withstood the Great Recession and is making amazing strides in expanding its manufacturing and logistics sectors,” said Michael Hicks, director of CBER and the George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Economics at Ball State University.

In a growing trend that’s gained considerable traction over the last 5 years, employment in Indiana’s manufacturing sector has begun to grow at a blistering pace. Of all the 50 states, Indiana ranks first in manufacturing employment per capita, with more than 500,000 Indianans employed by manufacturing in 2014.

And although manufacturing processes are increasing in technicality when it comes to automation on the shop floor, many companies in verticals such as automotive manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, and fabricated metals manufacturing are realizing that machines can’t always operate themselves – and that for the current manufacturing processes they employ, a scalable manufacturing workforce is needed to remain economically competitive.

In a recent interview with the BBC (US manufacturing: How did Indiana power a revival?), Dana Sims, a worker at Cummins Inc., a motor-vehicle part manufacturer based in Columbia, Indiana, said it best when asked if she feared that automated and advanced manufacturing processes would replace her on the shop floor:

"That machine takes 51 seconds to do what we used to do in five minutes."

For her, both automation and advanced manufacturing processes are making her job easier, not harder.

And many other Indianans feel the same way. Across the state, think tanks, researchers, scientists, and engineers are taking steps to develop the future of manufacturing in a way that fully realizes the synergies achievable between a knowledgeable workforce and the power of automation.


An incubator of innovation, Indiana has strategically positioned itself through the years as a nexus of educational research and real-world application, particularly in the form of manufacturing.

With institutions like Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, the University of Indiana, Purdue University, and the University of Notre Dame boasting some of the nation’s more prestigious engineering programs, it’s no wonder research and development and manufacturing are so closely knit in the Hoosier state.

Leading to continued and versatile modernization in many manufacturing processes, especially advanced manufacturing and automation, Indiana is increasingly becoming the go-to state for state-of-the-art manufacturing processes.

“Advanced manufacturing employs [the most manufacturing professionals in] Indiana. And while traditional manufacturing jobs have disappeared, they have been replaced with high-tech jobs with higher pay and a greater need for more specialized skills…Advanced manufacturing jobs in Indiana pay 40 percent more on average than the state's per capita income. And Indiana ranks first among neighboring states in value added per worker.” – Conexus Indiana

Manufacturing Share of Indiana

With an expert employee base, hundreds of preeminent research facilities, and colleges such as Purdue University partnering with institutions across the country to advance automated manufacturing, Indiana is taking year-over-year strides to cement its reputation as one of the nation’s most forward thinking and progressive manufacturing sectors.

And that’s why hundreds of companies from Cummins Inc. and Subaru, to General Electric and Honeywell International have set up production facilities in Indiana, invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the region, and hired thousands Indianans to get the job done.

Just in 2015, GE Aerospace opened its newest, state-of-the-art production facility in Lafayette, Indiana, employing more than 175 Indianans, many highly-trained in advanced manufacturing.

And just in March, automotive manufacturer Honda invested $52 million to expand production in Indiana, to, according to Bob Nelson, president of Honda Manufacturing Indiana, “enhance our manufacturing flexibility and better position Honda to meet customer demand for our lineup of fuel-efficient passenger cars and light trucks.”

For buyers of custom manufactured parts, that flexibility provided by Indiana suppliers is key to reducing part costs and getting parts and products to market much, much faster.


Supported by a robust chemical manufacturing vertical, a strong plastics and rubber products market, and an educational ecosystem focused on life sciences, Indiana is a mecca for medical manufacturing and R&D.

Especially the state’s northern reaches.

“From South Bend in the west to Fort Wayne in the east, Northern Indiana lays claim to world-class medical OEMs and literally dozens of suppliers. In addition to orthopedics products, the region’s supplier companies offer a range of other goods and services, from precision fine wire, hydraulic-compression molding presses, and conveyor systems to specialty fluid controls and electromagnetically transparent composite tubing.” – Qmed’s Bob Michaels in Indiana’s Medical Device Mecca Has Good Bones

Home to companies such as Eli Lilly and Company, DePuy Orthopaedics, Biomet, and Cook Medical, Indiana’s life sciences vertical and medical manufacturing market contribute about $60 billion to Indiana’s economy each year.

RELATED: Source Quality Custom Medical Device Manufacturers in Indiana Now

Relatively young, Indiana’s high-tech medical manufacturing boom didn’t begin in earnest until the mid-2000s. Branching from traditional contract manufacturing processes, advanced manufacturing helped Indiana’s life sciences vertical rapidly mature into the healthy medical manufacturing subsector found in the Hoosier state today.

Outmaneuvering the overall slow-down in medical device manufacturing across the nation, Indiana is quickly gaining ground on California (the nation’s #1 medical device manufacturer) to claim the crown of medical manufacturing mecca.

Indiana Life Sciences Industry

“From 2005 to 2010, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) reports Indiana obtained an estimated 14,500 life sciences job commitments and nearly $1.8 billion of projected capital investment from life sciences companies.” – CICPIndiana Life Sciences Industry Report

And the industry is still going strong.

In a recent report published by Inside Indiana Business, REGO-FIX, a Swiss based manufacturer of medical devices, aerospace components, and custom manufactured parts for the energy sector, said they have begun the initial phases of investing in a manufacturing facility in Indiana, which will at first employ about 20 Indianans, rapidly expanding the months to come.

What’s more, Precision Products Group’s subsidiary company, Paramount Tube, which manufactures tubes and components for the medical, aerospace, and packaging industries and has been a staple of Indiana manufacturing for over 25 years, is getting an investment boost in 2016:

“[Indiana’s] pro-growth business climate and rich history of manufacturing make Indiana an ideal location for Precision Products Group’s new headquarters and growing manufacturing operations. Despite a world of options, companies like Precision Products Group continue to choose Indiana for job creation because we are a state that works,” said Victor Smith, Indiana Secretary of Commerce in a recent press release.

With so many influential, world-renowned companies moving into Indiana – and trusting Indiana suppliers of custom manufactured parts to get their parts made fast and to quality – it’s no wonder Indiana’s manufacturing sector is quickly becoming one of the most prominent in the nation.


With the hundreds of research facilities and premier educational institutions located in the Hoosier state, finding a custom parts manufacturer to make your prototypes or full production parts shouldn’t be a difficult task.

With the Contract Manufacturing Marketplace, you can easily pinpoint those expert Indiana manufacturers using our powerful Discover Tool (Here’s a link), which helps you effortlessly perform due diligence on any custom parts supplier before you begin your next sourcing event.

With a plethora of quality automotive manufacturers, aerospace manufacturers, and government/defense manufacturers that utilize advanced manufacturing techniques to provide their customers extreme value, Indiana manufacturing companies are ripe for the picking.

So, if you’re need to find new custom parts suppliers using only the most innovative manufacturing processes to manufacture your parts in these verticals:

  • Primary Metals
  • Fabricated Metal Products
  • Machinery/Machine Tools
  • Plastics & Rubber products
  • Transportation Equipment
  • Custom Aerospace Products
  • Custom Automotive Products
  • Custom Medical Products

Start with We’ve got over 100 registered Indiana manufacturers in our contract manufacturing database waiting to quote your parts.

Related: Source Indiana Manufacturers That Can Satisfy Your Sourcing Needs Now


This is Part 3 In A Series Examining America’s Top 10 Manufacturing States. Check back in 2 weeks to find out how machine manufacturing, fabricated metal products, and clean-tech are reengineering Iowa’s manufacturing sector.

You can find Part 2 of this series here: Plane Power: How Electronics & Aerospace Helped California Manufacturers Take Off

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