CNN published an interesting blog post on the push to grow the manufacturing sector in the U.S. The blog’s author’s, Willy Shih and Gary Pisano, argue that bringing more manufacturing isn’t necessarily about manufacturing jobs as much as it is about innovation:
We believe that the most important reason to bring manufacturing back and grow it in this country is that the ability to manufacture underpins our ability to innovate in many fields. When manufacturing process technology is not yet mature, or when products are tightly integrated systems that are not easily modularized, a great deal of the work in “industrializing” a product – that is getting it ready and putting it into volume production – is high value-added knowledge work that supports future innovation in the field.
This, they explain, is about keeping research and development close to the manufacturing processes. Some examples of American companies already working on innovation and manufacturing within the U.S. are Intel’s new processor development taking place in Oregon, Arizona, and New Mexico and GE Aviation’s commercial airline engine manufacturing in Durham, North Carolina.
Their prediction is that the manufacturing jobs that come back to the U.S. will not be the same ones that left:
The manufacturing jobs that come back to America (and we hope there will be many) will not be the ones that left. The manufacturing jobs of America’s future will be more demanding of the skills of our workers, they will require more sophisticated computer skills, and an ability to work hand-in-hand with product designers to improve processes, or to assemble complex systems. They will require more education and training, and they will require continuing education as the pace of change in products and processes steps up. In short, manufacturing is becoming knowledge work. And more and more, such work will be a key enabler for America to continue as the most innovative place on the planet.
Even though U.S. manufacturing will change in the future, the industry will be just as important as it’s ever been and the future of U.S. manufacturing is a bright one.
Eagle Technologies Group is an industry leader in the design and installation of factory automation systems worldwide.