Our friends at APICS, via their weekly newsletter written by President Abe Eshkenazi, made a couple interesting observations worth sharing about the current state of manufacturing, and where it’s headed.
He references two articles, one originally published at CNNMoney titled “Are You Paying More than Your Parents” about advances in manufacturing and supply chains enabling cheaper manufactured goods, and the other from the Economist, entitled “Factory of the Future” detailing manufacturing’s shift from production to a suite of activities.
In the first article, Mark Perry of the Univ. of Michigan points out the ‘miracle of manufacturing’ – how anything that is manufactured has become cheaper over time. Supply chain management, of course, is one of the drivers of those cheaper prices. Automation is the other. And experts expect these trends to continue.
In the Economist article, the authors note that “ ‘Manufacturing is no longer just about production. Production is now the core of a much wider set of activities.’ Those activities encompass a wide range of services. For example, the article describes how Rolls-Royce now leases jet engines to airlines and ARM designs chips produced and used by smartphone manufacturers.”
The article authors also predict increased traction in remanufacturing, an industrial process that restores used products to like-new condition. “In the future, companies will not be able to afford to throw things away,” says study leader Sir Richard Lapthorne, a British industrialist.
In the end, while manufacturing is likely to need fewer workers, a wider view of manufacturing and its related services is that it will eventually be an overall booster of employment. Leaders in business, education and government all need to learn – and all have a stake – about these new and increasingly complex value chains built around the world of manufacturing.
As always, Eshkenazi ends on his common refrain: the importance of a well-trained workforce, and the education that an organization like APICS can provide to workers in today’s fast evolving manufacturing environment.
(We are long-time supporters of the work of APICS, and regularly put our own staff through APICS CPIM training in the long-held belief that a consultant who knows the business side of production, manufacturing and distribution – as well as the technical side expected of any IT consultant today – will be a consultant that holds far greater value to our clients, who we believe will also benefit accordingly.)
You can learn more about our local APICS chapters here.