Three Infrastructure Bill Provisions That Could Re-Energize the Domestic Manufacturing Industry

Construction worker using a jackhammer for infrastructure improvements
Credit: Shutterstock

By Maziar Adl, Co-Founder and CTO, Gocious

With President Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill, the U.S. government will be the largest manufacturer in the country. It is a groundbreaking government effort in this sector in recent history – the last infrastructure bill was introduced as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal efforts coming out of the Great Depression 90 years ago.

The new Biden Administration bill is primed to benefit more than just America’s roads, bridges and tunnels, although with many nearing a century old, the attention is long overdue. Companies in industries including green energy technology, IoT and chemical engineering are slated to benefit alongside contractors, architects and machinery companies.

So how does the U.S. plan for the spending and create provisions that leaders in the manufacturing industry are looking for? The infrastructure bill should ensure the following happens through its provisions:

Modernize the Manufacturing Industry

What is so exciting about the infrastructure bill is the potential for these investments to trickle down into our manufacturing industry. It is really an opportunity to not only improve the infrastructure of the United States as a whole, but also to improve the internal support systems within the companies that win the business.

These national infrastructure projects are not as simple as rebuilding a bridge – each step of the process requires a complex ecosystem of steps as well as experts who move each step along. The bill will impact an entire web of domestic manufacturing industries from contractors and their subcontractors to architects and designers, to machinery and industrial equipment companies, to the companies that create and install the materials for each bridge, tunnel and road.

Manufacturers should take advantage of this new funding to invest in themselves to better meet the needs of the overall projects that they're working on. This includes new equipment for managing sturdier, state-of-the-art building materials like new-gen concrete and steel, as well as new project management technology to plan and monitor progress.

Ensure Infrastructure is Built to Last

It’s possible that the U.S. may not see another infrastructure bill to the scale of the Biden administration’s bill for another century. Therefore, it’s important that whatever structures are built today are built with the vision of holding strong for another 100+ years. These developments can't be disposable and can't be commoditized; they must be lasting.

To ensure longevity, the Biden administration should include infrastructure bill provisions that require the new structures receive ongoing maintenance. While state and local governments take on some of the maintenance responsibility, the past 90 years have shown that more upkeep is needed to truly maintain viability of these structures. This bill should look years beyond the end of construction as the true lifespan of one infrastructure project.

Companies that win the contract to put in a new bridge, for example, should be contracted to monitor and maintain the bridge for years after construction is complete. This way, companies across the production line are responsible for doing the best quality work and are invested in the future of the infrastructure they build.

Unlike 90 years ago, we now have the technology available to monitor and maintain structures, from sensor networks to data analysis platforms that can interpret complex inputs from sensors and issue alerts about the health of a structure. We’ve seen this technology used in the newest “smart city” high-rise buildings and LEED-certified structures. It’s time publicly funded infrastructure incorporates these advances on massive scale as part of Biden’s new bill.

Keep an Eye on the Future, Using Data

While more data could be useful in maintaining infrastructure, manufacturers could also use some of the infrastructure bill spending to leverage data and innovation techniques to better predict outcomes of these investments.

Infrastructure projects always include some waste in time, money, or resources. Manufacturers can help the government reduce waste in the infrastructure bill’s spending using predictive analytics to understand how to make the best investment, better streamlining the construction process. While workers have long been adept at operating machinery or using power tools for construction, the future of manufacturing will include understanding how data plays a role in building and maintaining better infrastructure.

Manufacturers and even the government itself could use resources and education to build a specialized workforce skilled in supporting construction processes with predictive data analytics and data-driven processes.

Following these three steps and provisions, the U.S. can accomplish another major goal - bringing back jobs that will position the U.S. as a manufacturing powerhouse. $1 trillion in government investment is a big step towards empowering our domestic manufacturing industry, but keeping an eye on the future is paramount to ensuring the investment is long-lasting, for the next century and beyond.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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