Not Your Grandfather’s Manufacturing

The rebirth of makers in America is gaining momentum.

We walked into Evolve Manufacturing Technologies in Silicon Valley on Manufacturing Day and found a modern, spotless facility, full of natural light from walls of glass windows. Led by President and CEO, Noreen King, we toured the assembly areas, saw the clean rooms and learned about the products made by this high-tech contract manufacturer.

This is not your grandfather’s factory environment.

Evolve’s and other manufacturing environments are more likely to be fully automated with complex machine tools, 3D printers and robotics. As many women as men work there, including engineers, supply chain and executive management. It’s startling to see such a place and change our thinking about manufacturing.

National Manufacturing Day (MFG DAY) was Friday, Oct 2.  Businesses across America opened their doors, explained their operations and conducted tours of manufacturing sites. MFG DAY is a relatively new industry day, started about 3 years ago to address common misperceptions about manufacturing.

Manufacturers had an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t. Tours were open to the general public and to schools so manufacturers could take charge of the public image of manufacturing, and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the whole industry.

This is such an important day.

Revitalizing manufacturing in the US is key to strengthening our economy and to rebuilding the middle class in America.  Across the country, we see a renaissance in making things and a renewed interest in manufacturing as a career choice.

But we are not going back to our grandfather’s manufacturing.  What is coming back and creating so much renewed interest is sophisticated, advanced manufacturing that is no longer dirty, smelly, dark and dangerous.  In fact, most manufacturing jobs now require some cross-over between skilled labor and engineering. Most involve the use of computers to process testing and move raw materials along.

We need to see this and then change the way we talk about manufacturing to our kids. The rebirth of makers in America is gaining momentum. Manufacturing is sexy again.