Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Changing Face of US Manufacturing

Do you worry that manufacturing in the US is dead? Do you worry that jobs for skilled machinists, and other manufacturers is going to other countries? Do you often spend too much time reading blogs when you should be working (especially this one)? This may not be something we need to worry about in the future.

A recent article describes what is being called the "third industrial revolution". Look around and you will see fewer and fewer people on factory floors. Armies of intelligent machines and robots now dominate the manufacturing landscape. Many jobs that were once available in the US have moved over-seas, or have disappeared forever. But, the US has always been about technology and innovation. What we are witnessing may indeed be another industrial revolution, where jobs, industries, and products are changed forever.

This doesn't necessarily mean the end of manufacturing dominance in the US. Many people who have lost jobs on traditional manufacturing lines could be easily retrained to support innovation and creativity early in the design process. This would provide a greater emphasis on tasks that require users to interact with the virtual product and with early virtual prototypes. More iterations early in the design process usually results in more innovative products, with higher quality, that get to market faster.

Doesn't it make sense to put more emphasis on innovation and creativity? Hasn't that always been the strength of the US economy? Machines and robots can manufacture products, but they cannot innovate, nor can they imagine new and creative products. Putting more people at the front end of the design process makes sense because that is where innovation happens. PLM manages the virtual product and supports innovation.

Three cheers for PLM! The US workforce needs to change and match the new opportunities we find for innovative products and greater creativity. I, for one, will welcome this new change.

What do you think?


- Jim


  1. We should focus on our children and make STEM a more fun and rewarding course of studies, and much will come as a result. Nanotechnologies and 3D design/print are the way to go.

    Countries such as BRIC have grown considerably, but based on their exports to us and Europe. Our economies slow and their acceleration grinds to a alt.

    Now China have started a massive robotization of their factories, because labor is no longer a competitive advantage. Do we really need all these robots to be Swiss ? Arguably not. Where is a Robot made in America that rivals those from Europe and Japan ?

    Roll up the sleeves and let's go.
    (by one of the many contributors to that "recent article") Best.

  2. Linda,

    Thanks for your comments. I agree with you. We certainly need to make STEM educational paths more interesting and rewarding for our children. This will be required to keep our lead in innovation and creativity.



  3. Very true. Instead of focusing on one side of it, we should consider other options we can do.

    I really loved how Ed Butowsky explained how Obama policies affecting stock prices.