Manufacturing investment worldwide 2016-2018, our analysis

This is the sixth long paper in a series aiming at showing the wealth of information opened to our  industries & strategies database customers.  Previous papers offered information on R&D capital investments, geographical analyses of the United States, Asia, the European Union and Africa and this one is specifically discussing manufacturing investments.

The Industries & Strategies database, created and distributed by Trendeo, tracks, since 2016, every industrial investment (manufacturing, energy, logistics, R&D) announced worldwide (over 30 MUSD or 50 jobs). Each information is classified by product, sector, company, country, even a qualitative score (factories of the future score). Since january 2016, 9 127 investments have been tracked, among them 5 557 for manufacturing projects (61%). As the database is updated weekly, our users benefit from a more detailed information, including cancelled investments, factories of the future score details, capacity…

In one line: in manufacturing activities, from january 2016 to may 2018, we tracked  5 557 projects, for a total amount of investment (capex) of 1 652 M$ and 1 698 090 jobs added.

worldwide manufacturing investments trendeo 2018

In the database, each information is described precisely across 30 quantitative and qualitative fields. The tables below synthetize the available data alongside different criteria.

Manufacturing among other activities

Each project in our Industries & Strategies database is classified by sector but also alongside the type of activities performed. We have defined nine types of activities, listed below. The table shows that manufacturing makes almost 61% of projects, almost 80% of jobs created and 43% of amounts invested. Manufacturing is only the third sector for the average capital expenditure per project, after mining and power generation projects.

world industrial investment 2018 by trendeo by activities
Number of projects, jobs and investment, by type of activities, 2016-2018.
Last column: average amount invested, by project.

Geographical repartition

China comes first in terms of capital expenditure, with 27% of global amounts. India and the United States taken together are just slightly over China. South Korea comes in fourth position, with a relatively low number of projects – with a very high average capex, due to the electronics sector. Germany is the first European Union country, in 17th position.

manufacturing investment by country 2018 by trendeo
Manufacturing investments by country, 2016-2018, tracked by Trendeo, by number of projects,
jobs created, and amounts invested. Last column: average investment per project.


Among the 30 top regions (out of 952 regions in which manufacturing investments have been tracked),.five countries are present with several regions: China (12 regions), India (7 regions), and the United States, South Korea and Saud Arabia with two regions each. The European Union has no region within the top 30 world manufacturing regions.

manufacturing investment worldwide by region 2018 by trendeo
Manufacturing investments by region, 2016-2018, tracked by Trendeo, by number of projects, jobs created and amounts invested. Last column: average investment per project.

Foreign Direct Investment and manufacturing

Almost half of investment projects (46,5%) come from foreign direct investment (FDI). FDI share is lower for capital expenditure (36,5%): FDI projects are 34% less capitalistic than domestic projects. Spain and Mexico have the highest level of dependency on FDI, respectively in amounts invested and number of projects, while Taiwan and Japan have the lowest levels for those same criteria.

share of FDI investment by country for manufacturing activities by trendeo 2018
Top 30 countries for manufacturing investment,
with share of FDI by amount invested and number of projects, 2016-2018.

Top foreign investor countries

The United States come first by number of FDI projects, slightly ahead of Germany and Japan. China, combined with Taiwan, is first for amounts invested abroad, and fourth by number of projects (with or without Taiwan). Switzerland manufacturers are sixth by number of projects, and 15th by amount invested (Nestlé, LafargeHolcim, Sika, Ineos, ABB, Novartis)…

Companies investing in FDI manufacturing activities trendeo 2018
Top 20 investor countries for FDI, by number of projects (left) and amount invested (right). Percentages are in share of world FDI. In italics, countries which are only in one table, bordered countries in bold are in both rankings.

Top companies in manufacturing investment

Almost 3000 groups were included in our database from 2016 to 2018. By amount invested, the Chinese holding company of the Tsinghua university, Tsinghua Holdings, tops the ranking, before Saudi Aramco and Samsung. By number of projects, seven Indian companies come in the top 20 positions, including the top three ranks. The automotive industry is also well represented by number of projects, with Toyota, Porsche and General Motors leading the sector.

top manufacturing companies for investment in 2016 2018 by trendeo
Top 20 companies by number of manufacturing projects announced (left) and by amount invested (right). The tables below give the detail of the Government of India and Government of China lines (in number of projects and amount invested respectively).
manufacturing national companies from india and china 2016 2018 by trendeo

Engineers & contractors

Whenever the information is available we track, in dedicated fields, information about capacities, surfaces but also suppliers, contractors and customers. The table below consolidates engineers and contractors alongside the number of projects where they were listed (only suppliers with at least one foreign investment project were included in the final table. The first supplier is the Finnish company Valmet. After this, 7 of the top 20 are American companies (USA), and 6 are German.

world manufacturing suppliers 2018 by trendeo
Top 20 contracting / engineering companies mentioned among the manufacturing investments tracked by Trendeo, 2016-2018

Manufacturing sectors

The chemicals industry is the first sector by number of projects and amounts invested, with 15% of projects tracked and almost a quarter of amounts invested (there are close links with the energy sector, the main projects being petrochemicals complexes, with actors such as Saudi Aramco, Sasol or Royal Dutch Shell). Food and the automotive industry come second and third, by number of projects, the food sector having one of the lowest amount invested by project. Electronics is second sector by amount invested, with an average amount invested of $1,3 billion.

worldwide manufacturing investments by sector 2016 2018 trendeo
Manufacturing investments by sector, 2016-2018, in number of projects, jobs and amount invested. Last column: average amount invested by project.

Using a more detailed level of analysis, we have cement, automobile (cf. detail after) and parts and accessories for motor vehicles as top products by number of projects, and refined petroleum, basic components for electronics and hydrocarbons by amount invested.

worldwide manufacturing investments by product 2016 2018 trendeo
Manufacturing investments by product, 2016-2018, in number of projects (left table) and amount invested (right table). In italics, products that are in one table only. Last column: average amount invested by project.

The detailed table for automobile product, below, shows the transition towards electrical vehicles, with 50 projects for electric cars, 14 for electric buses, one for electric truck and one project for autonomous cars.

worldwide automotive investments by product 2016 2018 trendeo

Qualitative scores

Our factories of the future score aggregates six components defined with our partners (Fives, EDF (Electricité de France) and the Institut de la réindustrialisation):

  • Flexibility: the ability to switch from a product to another, enabling made-to-order manufacturing,
  • Digitalization: the introduction of technologies such as IoT, robotics, automation,
  • Energy efficiency: every measure taken to lower energy consumption compared with usual norms,
  • Social efforts: measures undertaken for operations, through working conditions, health and safety concern, training, education and wages…,
  • Territorial efforts: decisions aiming at improving the relations between a production site and local communities and stakeholders, such as favoring local suppliers, funding schools, contributing to local social projects…,
  • Environmental efforts: reducing carbon footprint and pollution, water preservation…

Each criterion is ranked 0 (no mention in the news describing the investment), 1 (some measures described) or 2 (quantitative objectives defined for the criterion considered or insistence on it). Adding those 0-2 scores over six criteria gives a total Industry of the Future score which varies from 0 to 12.

Flexibity of the production is the first criteria mentioned in our data: 1101 projects (19,8%) mention one degree of the flexibility (score 1 or 2), with an average score of 0,28. Digitization is slightly below. Territorial efforts and environmental efforts are also close, mentioned in only 11% to 12% of manufacturing projects. Then come energy efficiency and finally social efforts. All in all, 41,5% of manufacturing projects mention at least on of our 6 criteria of the factory of the future.

factory of the future scores by criteria in world manufacturing investment 2016 2018 by trendeo

Top ten rated projects

There are, listed in the following table, the ten highest rated projects in our database (Tesla investment being the 9 rated score with the highest amount invested). The average score of a manufacturing investment is 1,05, similar to the average global score (1,03).

top factory of the future scores in world manufacturing investments 2016 2018 by trendeo

Factory of the future score, by sector

We selected only the sectors with more than 30 projects. The beverage sector comes first, mainly due to the highest score for environmental efforts, with technologies such as zero liquid discharge and/or water consumption reduction and highest score for territorial efforts (local sourcing mainly, even with one project aiming at import substitution). Paper and cardboard has the best score for energy efficiency, frequently quoting the use of a new machine as an energy saving mean. The pharmaceutical sector is the sector most frequently mentioning flexibility, with two meanings of the term: the ability to make different products (in different forms, such as tablets, powders…) but also to switch from low scale to higher scale production. Digitization is strongest in the furniture industry, with built to order and made to measure abilities. Social efforts are the least frequently mentioned. They can take many forms, such as higher wages, commitment to recruiting women, social benefits for health, retirement plans, but also tuition subsidies.

factory of the future score by manufacturing sector 2016 2018 data trendeo


Factory of the future, by country and company – and at the end, the Germans win

Projects in Germany top the ranks for the factory of the future score, with an average German score of1,7, 60% better than global average. This position is in line with the first position obtained by BMW in the score by company. Other German groups such as Daimler, Porsche or Siemens are among the top 20 companies. The Algerian group Cevital is among the less-known companies in our rankings, with investments in the food sector but also in steel industry.

factory of the future score by country and company 2016 2018 data trendeo

Top projects

The following table lists the ten biggest manufacturing investments announced since january 2016 (we recorded in our database some projects that had been announced before but were discussed again since January 2016). Those ten investments represent 14% of the total amount invested through the manufacturing projects tracked by Trendeo.

top manufacturing investments worldwide 2016 2018 data trendeo

Detailed Sample

Each operation is described on a dedicated page in the database, including information such as production capacity.

trendeo data on industrial investment sample


This document is a short synthesis of the data available in the Industries & Strategies database about manufacturing investments. You can learn much more about this database by contacting Trendeo: / +33(0)1 42 79 51 26 or


The Industries & Strategies database has been made possible by our sponsors: Fives, the Institut de la Réindustrialisation, EDF and Defi&Co (Programme d’investissement d’avenir (PIA), managed by Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations).

trendeo sponsors industries strategies

This article can be downloaded in PDF version on this section of our website.

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