Fifty years ago, during the high-water mark of American economic dominance, 29% of the workers in the U.S. were in manufacturing. Today that figure is closer to 11%. Historically, “invented in the USA” meant made in the USA. Today, that no longer holds true. Apple can design and distribute iPods, iPhones and iPads in the U.S. without having any significant production facilities here at all.
How big do you need to be to make intelligent machinery and processes work for your company?
Every time a site consultant or state economic-development official turns around, some automaker or large supplier is expanding a plant, ordering tooling for a promising future model, domesticating production that occurred offshore or even plotting a whole new facility. It’s happening across America’s increasingly prosperous auto belt.
It’s no secret that American manufacturing has faced a number of significant obstacles. People say the industry is known for low wages, subpar working condition, and continual quality control issues, none of which help attract new workers — but are those actually the biggest challenges facing manufacturing right now?
A new report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors details the impact the energy sector has had on manufacturing in the nation’s metropolitan areas since 2010, and shows how the new availability of inexpensive natural gas has ignited manufacturing industries and chemicals. Manufacturing CEOs are at the sharp end of the spear in reviving the country’s economic fortune.
Is crowdsourcing the new front line for demand-driven manufacturing? Foodmanufacturing.com editor Holly Henschen reports that food processors are trying to use social media to identify new product formulations and hopefully boost new customers and advertisers.
Battery technology is at the heart of the future of electric vehicles because range is still a limiting factor. Michael Bernstein of the American Chemical Society reports on recent research on the latest advances that could render not only a significant boost for electric vehicles, but other sectors that benefit from extended battery life.
Both Walmart and 3D Systems announced initiatives that will hopefully bring about new manufacturing jobs or reshore some production in the U.S. over the next ten years.
Best known for its use in prototypes, additive manufacturing — better known as 3D printing — is being used by companies big and small for developing the latest products. With additive manufacturing technology becoming more accessible and cheaper every year, one can easily envision a time when every hospital –maybe every doctor’s office--has one on-hand.
The list hasn’t changed much in recent years, but it highlights the need to improve safety on the plant floor.