Archive for the Industry Trends Category
IMTS 2012 – Social Media, Technology, And The Manufacturing Vibe

I attended IMTS 2012 last month in Chicago, and of all that I’ve been to – each one since 1996 – this was, by far, the best. Ever.

Maybe it has as much to do with the fact that, considering where we’ve been recently, anything beyond a poke in the eye with a sharp stick would’ve been an improvement. But I don’t think that has much to do with what I saw and heard.

There were many unique qualities to IMTS 2012, but few deserve a mention more than the ‘coming out’ party for Social Media. And that’s as much for what it didn’t do, as much as for what it did.

Here’s a look at my observations about the 2012 show, and where Social Media are at in the manufacturing sector.

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When Handing Out Blame for the Manufacturing Skills Shortage, Look In the Mirror Too

For many years, some in manufacturing have been warning about the lack of qualified, motivated talent in the industrial trades. Today, those chickens are coming home to roost.

We’re in the middle of a perfect storm with regards to finding the employees to design & build our way back to prosperity. With much of our higher-paying production – and the ancillary jobs that support it – offshored in the chase for cheaper labor costs, we’re caught with our pants down. As more and more OEMs and large manufacturers are realizing the total landed costs of offshored products & services, the will to reshore manufacturing is tempered by the lack of personnel to accept repatriated work.

I hear daily from manufacturing executives, managers, and C-suite suits what a national disgrace this is. That we have to do something. That we should have seen this coming. Well, I have a message for you all right now.

You’re right, and you helped cause this mess. So what are you gonna do about it?

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A Case For Robotics & Automation In US Manufacturing

Kuka Robotics has created an Infographic that presents the advantages that robotics and automation bring to US manufacturing. Feel free to argue all you want that Kuka has a dog in this fight – you’re right.

But now what? Does that make them wrong? I say it doesn’t. As a matter of fact, I happen to agree with the premise that the use of robotics/automation to support the right applications can in fact play a strong role in reshoring production back to the US.

Check out this Infographic from Kuka to get a clearer picture of this premise. (And look below the Infographic for a few more points from me on the subject.)

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We Need Focus To Grow & Sustain Manufacturing

Up to this point, US manufacturing – the newly discovered darling of economists and academics – has been leading the charge in this lethargic recovery. Despite other areas of our economy that remain anchors around its neck, the US industrial base – God bless us – continues to exceed expectations by out-performing almost every other sector.

And this, despite 3 straight months of contraction. Even under duress, US manufacturing continues to prove its value to a competitive economy.

That’s all impressive, but what if there was actual clarity around where to go, what to do, what not to do, and how to do it, with regard to manufacturing? Imagine the strength of the manufacturing sector – and the economy as a whole – if we weren’t so impossibly, frustratingly fractured and discombobulated.

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Is The Ongoing Mortgage Crisis Harming Our Manufacturing Skills Crisis?

I’m not going to get into who or what caused the housing & mortgage crisis in this country. There’s plenty of blame to go around for that.

And I’m not gonna offer any recommendations on what we could be doing to fix it. Again, you could waltz across Texas on the opinions offered up every day.

What has me curious is why we’re not seeing more concern in manufacturing about its impact on hiring and the lack of talent to grow manufacturing and accelerate reshoring & innovation in the US.

The reality is that with so many houses underwater, so many homeowners tied to them, and so many potential employers in manufacturing ready but unable to hire, the mortgage crisis must be included in any discussions about what’s causing our lack of manufacturing talent and how to help relieve that deficit.

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