Manufacturing has been a cornerstone of innovation for over 150 years and is the engine that drives gross domestic product (GDP) globally. With the advent of information technology and a paradigm shift to a more service-oriented economy, manufacturing became less of a local focal point with initiatives, such as off-shoring and near shoring, where labor and production costs afforded higher margins.
Causal factors over the past decade have led a manufacturing renaissance through investments in networked industrial control systems (ICS), supply chain optimization, and the ability to convert big data analytics into actionable decision making. The ability to create high-precision, high throughput and cost-effective processes is what defines a new outlook on manufacturing. Simply put, the congruence between operational technology and information technology has fueled the evolution for advanced manufacturing.
Here are a few other compelling reasons why macro pressures are affecting this developing model:
Rising global labor costs
Supply chain complexity
Increased transit costs
Exchange rate volatility
Another important factor to consider is the role of the advanced manufacturing worker. The primary skillsets have moved away from manual machine manipulation to a workforce that requires the intelligence and problem-solving abilities to program industrial systems, predict potential process upsets and be able to respond in real time from both a digital and physical perspective. While most of today's IT-related workforce is currently located in an office setting, many of these highly sought after jobs will reside on the factory floor in the future. Those who are willing to roll up their sleeves in a production environment while flexing their intellectual wisdom will be leaders of new advanced manufacturing economy.