Manufacturing is crucial

Many speakers today at the Automation Conference have called attention to the importance of manufacturing for our economy, our defense and our overall well being.

Pw 56110 Ontheedge Final 0

One speaker struck a chord with me in properly positioning development, design and service - not as ends in themselves - but as the pre and post cursors of manufacturing.  The purpose of design and development is so that we have something to manufacture and we have no need for service until something has been manufactured.

Arnav Anand, Research Scholar and Entrepreneur-In-Residence at the Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology at the University of California Berkeley spoke of three important segments within the realm of manufacturing: Pre-manufacturing which covers from ideation through design; Manufacturing which encompasses the actual production of things; and Post-manufacturing which begins at the first day of use of a product and extends till product death and disposal.  He went on to show how developments in information technology are dramatically changing each of these segments.

You might think, 'so what?'.  But I think there is a subtle but important message here.  I have written in the past about the importance of vocabulary.  With manufacturing getting such a bad wrap amongst parents and youth today, we need to do all we can to improve the image.  

We frequently do not associate R&D or our service sector with manufacturing.  But if R&D is viewed as pre-manufacturing and service is viewed as post-manufacturing, it shines a new light on manufacturing and its importance to our society.  If we aren't going to make things, why do we need R&D?  If we haven't already made things, why do we need service?  Even services like banking are designed to support the purchasing of manufactured things like cars, houses and capital equipment.  

Isn't a very large part of our society built on or a part of manufacturing?  Can we continue to exist as a thriving economy if we don't make things?  Think about it and share your thoughts.
 

Comments


Amen Brother! This is common sense that evades the big brain people in D.C.

The "leaders" feel that manufacturing is unsafe, ecologically damaging and not economically advantageous for the workers. They think the industry hasn't advanced since the days of Oliver Twist.

Posted by: Gary Hanson on May 31, 2013


Mr. Campbell,

I totally agree with your article. These segments to product and manufacturing go hand and hand. It is so important for us to design, build, and service. We have become a nation of consumers, instead of builders. Our country was based on innovations and doers as I call them chefs, instead of eaters. If you think about it Chefs created meals and customers consumed the meals. All depends how good a chef you are and how good your product is, lately all we have are people waiting to consumed the meals and not get in the kitchen and cook.

Kudos to you.

Vince Thanthanavong

Posted by: Vince Thanthanavong on May 31, 2013


The author is spot on. The sun sets quickly on empires that lose track of what is important. Once celebrities, lawyers, and polititicans either make themsleves more important than, or become more revered by society at large than those making things, its game over.
Sound familiar? Look around

Posted by: Wesley Prais on May 31, 2013


I maintain that there are only three ways to create wealth in society, Mining, Agriculture, and Manufacturing. So where do we want to be? A service based society and work on other peoples stuff?

Posted by: Pete Bachert on May 31, 2013


Yes, the comment is fully valid.

Posted by: Alex Wolf on May 31, 2013


Thank you Kieth for your professional site.

Posted by: Greg Imhoff on May 31, 2013


I currently work in the Brazilian manufacturing sector. We see today this segment in trouble. The manufacturing sector is decreasing. Desindustrialization is evident. Brazilian companies are pressed not only by chinese. In the segment I work for (Equipment for the Printing and Converting for paper, films, foils, textiles, rubber, etc.) we face a lot of competition from European Companies that due to the recession in Europe, come to Brazil "to buy market", with prices extremely low (just to keep their factories running in Europe). Additionally, they come with financing from strugling European Banks. In Brazil the manufacturing is suffering and is decreasing year-to-year. But this is a subject that a few lines will just touch the tip of the iceberg. The country has other infra-structure and taxation problems that penalize a lot the manufacturing sector. I firmly agree that a country cannot grow without a solid manufacturing industry.

Posted by: Pedro Bocchini on May 31, 2013


Thanks for your piece on Manufacturing is Crucial Keith. Well done!

Posted by: Rob Souza on June 1, 2013


I do agree with the basic thought, but I miss something.
Making things is in itsself not the core issue.
The way we live is the result of a continuous search for improvement of the quality of life, for ourselves, for our children.
Those improvements generally consist in what I call "helps". machines, devices, etc that make life simpler, more secure, more comfortable.
All these machines, devices, but also services are designed by ENGINEERS. And everything that is invented has to be made, whether it is a physical unit or a service.
Production therefore can be seen as the realisation of all these inventions and ideas to improve our life.
Without production we don't have to invent, and if we don't produce, we don't need to service them.
Make everyone aware that we live the way we do because engineers thought how to make all these gadgets, ways to produce more food etc. Engineers make the production of these items and services possible.
Without technology we are back at the stone age.
Engineers should be viewed as the enablers of todays life.
Give engineering the credit and enjoy being part of the process.

Posted by: Jacob van Kogelember on June 1, 2013


Anyone with half a brain realizes what has happened to the US. Making things for sale (manufacturing) has migrated to other countries due to the greed of large Corporations. This is due in part to the greed of Wall Street investors who have required corporations to report every how much profit accrues every 2 months. In contrast, if you operate in the Far East or in Europe, labor costs are lower and you have to account for operations only once per year (and sometimes biannually). The large corporations have managed to get laws passed via the Republican Party so that they no longer pay any taxes in the US. I say get rid of the Republication Party and take back
Washington for the people. In order to sell in the US, a company should be required to manufacture goods (not services) in a central location and to pay a fair share of taxes.

Posted by: RC Ropp on June 3, 2013

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