When you think of the manufacturing industry, what comes to mind? For most people, the term manufacturing brings a picture of reserved and dirty workers with different machines. That is not the case anymore, thanks to technology. It is now a high tech industry which produces products such as iPhones, prototypes and vacuum cleaners among more.
Though the manufacturing industry is not a solution to all our economic problems, it is very important when it comes to creating job opportunities. It contributes to economic growth, and at the same time, it raises technological skills in the world. In most countries including the US, it is the backbone of industrialization, and so, the state of manufacturing should be a priority for any nation.
Over time, the manufacturing industry has evolved bringing both challenges and opportunities. There have been changes in the economies of production, nature of products, consumer demand as well as supply chain which has made companies change their way of doing business. That means, for any company to survive in the industry, they have to embrace change otherwise they will be forced out of the market.
As technology evolves and develops, barriers to entry are eroded, and that means new markets can be developed. That creates competition and even if the vast CNC manufacturing companies still dominate the market, more innovative models are developed which make the manufacturing industry to continue growing. Therefore, as long as any US Manufacturing companies take advantage of these new opportunities, there will be a future for this sector.
Mechanical engineering schools and US Manufacturing schools should embrace the changes in technology and educate the students on how to produce products that have a future despite the various changes. In that way, the manufacturing industries will keep growing since new and innovative CNC machining, and CNC automation models will be developed.
In the meantime, as the country waits to see how the NAFTA agreement will turn out, the manufacturing industries can only hope that it is not signed. In that way, there will be an increase in employment, stabilized trade and satisfactory wages for the people of US. However, as per now, there is pressure on the manufacturing industries given that the margin separating the manufacturers and the product sellers is slowly fading away. Most manufacturers are forced to build or create on order.
Looking at all the above factors, is there a future for the manufacturing industry? Is there a future for the mechanical engineering schools? Do the students focusing on manufacturing have a place to be in future? That will only be determined by the manufacturers. Are they creative and innovative enough to create a market even where there is no demand?
Manufacturers will need to understand the forces driving their industry. By doing that, it will be easy to leverage the skills and convey a structural advantage as they restructure their business models. As a manufacturer, you need to define your success by embracing the new manufacturing techniques.
So, is there a future for the manufacturing industry? Yes, there is as long as the companies consider factors such as product size and complexity, laws and regulations and level of technology or digitalization. Every business has to act smart and also, US manufacturing schools need to research ways of keeping the manufacturing industry. After all, it is the backbone of most economies.