What is advanced manufacturing?
In the United States, this term is repeatedly used in almost every new project announcement for a business that has something to do with manufacturing or producing something. Almost every business that has a “manufacturing” nature is classified under “advanced manufacturing” category, thus making the term applicable as the universal description for any and all manufacturing operations not just in the US but in other developed countries as well.
Manufacturers recognize the benefits of integrating technology in the manufacturing processes.
Management Of Technology And Human Interaction
Management and application of technology in the manufacturing processes is reliant upon human interaction. In the past ten years, manufacturers identified as non-reliant upon technology and driven by manual labor have already sought lower-cost countries to continue their production.
This means that for these labor-reliant manufacturers, it is more cost-effective to outsource production to overseas companies that offer lower labor rates rather than to invest in installing the various technology-based applications to enhance production or the manufacturing processes. Many of these manufacturers have shifted their production operations back to the country because of increasing labor-cost from outsourcing countries.
Advanced manufacturing relies on human interaction.
Advanced manufacturing is not dependent on pursuing the lowest-cost environment around the world. Advanced manufacturing may be best defined to be:
- Capital-intensive which utilizes expensive equipment and machinery that require a low-risk location (in terms of natural disaster, political, social and economic stability)
- Energy-intensive because of very sensitive equipment that requires a consistently dependable power supply
- Labor-centered with fewer position requirements because of increasing demand for workers with higher skills necessitated by process automation
- Proprietary in nature, thus requiring strong intellectual property laws
Innovative Manufacturing Solutions
The United States happens to be a leader of innovative manufacturing solutions and is well-positioned in the global economy to see increased and continued investment for advanced manufacturing operations ranging from:
- Revival of local automotive industry through innovative and revolutionary technologies
- Growth in transportation industries and sectors including aircraft, space ships and trains
- Efficiency in the production of ordinary consumer goods such as medical and food industries
Advanced manufacturing involves innovative manufacturing solutions to make for efficient manufacturing processes.
What The US Offers
Compared with other developed countries, the United States is in the best position to compete on a global scale despite a relatively high labor cost. The application of innovation and technology boost advanced production levels which subsequently reduce the volume of labor required and therefore offsetting high labor costs with less job needs.
Additionally, the US has abundant energy resources which enables it to offer the lowest energy costs for developed countries. The country’s position is also strengthened by strict intellectual property laws and a high transparency level on conducting business.
There is also access to highly reliable utilities including telecom, water, gas, electric and sewer which are all important determinants for investors in deciding where to invest their hundreds of millions of dollars.
The US has abundant energy sources resulting to lower energy costs offered to developed countries.
Building A Qualified Workforce For Advanced Manufacturing Stakeholders
Advanced manufacturing requires a different set of workers – different in levels of skills and knowledge. Any manufacturer, regardless of industry or sector must have the necessary skilled workforce to begin with. Infusing technology in manufacturing processes will require the skills set compatible with the integrated technology.
And the community with the ability to provide or develop a workforce with the required skills regardless if it’s for a company that assembles executive aircrafts or if it’s a medical device manufacturer that uses precision machining technology, will ultimately benefit from the surge of advanced manufacturing. Hence, the community should take a more proactive approach by partnering with local educational institutions to help build a strong community with a qualified skilled workforce.
This need has driven many states to directly include grants for their learning institutions as a way to attract substantial new job creation opportunities. By establishing a foundation to solidify a sustainable workforce that will support continued growth in the advanced manufacturing sector.