Manufacturing slowed somewhat in December and January 2014 and 2015, but continues to grow in the U.S. The strength of the dollar made it difficult for U.S. goods to compete on the export market. However, the manufacturing sector itself still has strong expansion potential as more companies have begun to hire people who are skilled in the expertise currently required of someone working in the industry.
The business of manufacturing has changed since a time when most of the work done on a factory floor was by hand. Currently, the labor demanded of people working now is primarily based on programming machines and operating robotic systems. In fact, the industry is already turning even further in the direction of automation. There is one conceptual factory in Korea almost entirely based on robots and other machines, with humans doing very little work aside from operating and maintaining equipment, along with using computer systems to ensure proper efficiency levels are maintained.
Manufacturing grows despite a slow period in January
Although manufacturing grew through the beginning of the year, according to The Associated Press it was still a slow period. In spite of this, manufacturing will likely continue to be a major source of expansion in the U.S. economy as more workers enter the labor market with the skills that companies need to continue operations and grow existing factories.
At a recent job fair in Sharonville, Ohio, the recruiters explained they were looking for people with experience in machining, according to the Dayton Daily News.
"We're looking for CNC machinists with three to five years' experience. Programming is a plus, but we do our programming offline, so it's not a must," said Terry Kilbarger, manufacturing manager for RB Tool & Manufacturing Co. of Mount Health, the Daily News reported. "Right now CNC machinists who can program are pretty hard to find. They're in high demand, but the ones we are finding are very good."
Because demand is so high, many companies have begun hiring people out of trade school - training them in programming and other basic skills. Hiring for attitude has become a way for businesses to grow their candidate pool without sacrificing the overall quality of work being produced. For someone just entering the workforce, this is a good thing because other parts of the U.S. economy aren't necessarily getting people jobs as readily.
In order to get ahead in this field, it helps to have technical abilities having to do with machines and computers. This is because factories are increasingly growing towards a state where nearly all of the manual parts of a job are replaced with robots.
The Internet of Things and manufacturing
A factory in North Chuncheong, Korea, is pointing the way towards a future in which computers handle almost every aspect of a factory through the Internet of Things, according to Korea Joongang Daily. In modern factories in the U.S., machines have the ability to communicate with a central computer that processes the information and makes most of the decisions about product mix and other efficiency issues.
"Because each facility automatically operates and controls its operation, production is fast and precise," said Kim Joong-Young, a manager at the LSIS Cheongju factory, said to Korea Joongang Daily. "About 20,000 completed units of 38 different electricity control-related products are produced at this smart factory every day without delays. Our production here is automated up to 95 percent."
In a factory like this, most of the humans are there to monitor robots and ensure that everything is running smoothly. In such a future, people in the industry will face a growing need to know how to maintain and program machines, so that they will remain relevant in increasingly robotized facilities.