Manufacturing has historically held an important position in the American economy, and continues to be a fiercely competitive field dedicated to the development of new technology and products, creating new jobs, and providing opportunities for entrepreneurs. The first Friday in October is National Manufacturing Day, a time to celebrate the power and potential of the American manufacturing industry.
What is Manufacturing? A Definition
Manufacturing industries produce a staggering array of products, so any manufacturing definition has to be broad. Essentially, manufacturing is the production of any product for use or sale which is made through physical labor, machines, or chemical/biological processes. Manufacturing is a secondary industry, in that it uses the raw materials provided by primary industries (agriculture, logging, mining, fishing, and similar industries) to produce usable goods.
History of National Manufacturing Day
Manufacturing Day is a relatively recent idea, originating as a state day in New Jersey in 2012 with a proclamation by Governor Chris Christies. Two years later, in 2014, President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Proclamation making the first Friday of every October National Manufacturing Day.
National Manufacturing Day Events
National Manufacturing Day sees over 3,000 American manufacturing businesses of all sizes open their doors to the public for plant tours and school trips. Events are also being held virtually to adhere to social distancing guidelines. These events both educate the public on the importance of the manufacturing industry and to inspire students to pursue manufacturing and engineering careers. The student who visits a manufacturing center today may be the entrepreneur or innovator of tomorrow.
7 Current Manufacturing Trends
National Manufacturing Day looks to the future while celebrating the present. With that in mind, here are severn manufacturing trends we’re seeing that will exert increasing influence on the industry in the years to come:
- The Internet of Things: Equipment and Machinery increasingly comes with online connectivity and powerful onboard computing processes. The Internet of Things improves safety, reducing costs, increasing efficiency, and helping manufacturer industries meet compliance regulations. That influence is only expected to increase with time.
- Predictive Maintenance: Predictive or preventive maintenance reduces costly repairs and shutdowns by addressing small issues before they burgeon into serious problems. According to McKinsey & Company, predictive maintenance can reduce maintenance costs by 20 percent and lower the rate of unplanned outages by 50 percent.
- 3D Printing: The adoption of 3D printing by manufacturing industries has made production faster while reducing costs and material waste. The ability to quickly produce a product on demand lowers the need for warehousing large amounts of stock until needed. 3D printing also allows companies to produce prototypes quickly and efficiently.
- Reshoring: For years, it was commonplace to offshore manufacturing jobs to countries with cheaper labor costs. That manufacturing trend has reversed somewhat of late with reshoring — the return of overseas jobs. Two reasons account for this. First, nations who benefited from offshoring have grown wealthier, leading to higher wages for their workforce. Second, manufacturers are discovering many offshore locations lack the technology and infrastructure needed for their needs.
- Resolving the Manufacturing Industries Skills Gap: Increased job creation, combined with reshoring and an aging employee base, is expected to lead to a significant manufacturing skills gap between the present and 2025. Competition for skilled employees will increase, requiring changes to retention strategies on the part of many manufacturing companies.
- Increased Training Needs: One solution to the looming manufacturing skills gap is in-house training and development of existing employees. Industrial training helps companies replace retiring workers, while increasing retention rates — employees who have opportunities to hone their skills and advance their careers are loyaler, more engaged, and less likely to jump ship to a company’s competitors.
- Smart Manufacturing: Smart manufacturing is a strategy of ensuring information about manufacturing processes is disseminated when and where it’s needed, in the most effective form. The result is to improve the quality of decisions made about critical business operations.
Celebrate National Manufacturing Day with Continued Education
This year, don’t just educate the public on the manufacturing industry: educate your workforce. To remain competitive, a manufacturing business needs to nurture its employees, providing them with the training to perform their jobs safely and effectively. Whether you need to teach specific employees about computers in process control or organize a company-wide safety orientation, provide your staff with the skills they need to thrive and succeed. Make National Manufacturing Day about them--after all, your employees are your most important resource.