Sophisticated equipment and modern-day processes have definitely increased productivity, but the belief that they have eliminated jobs in the manufacturing sector is a myth. Today's automated systems do away with a lot of traditional manual operations, which require skills that are now more difficult to find in the U.S. workforce. Companies searched for an alternative to this once very important workforce and hit upon technological innovations or automation. The U.S. workforce is progressing in the fields of software and programming, and the nation is building a base for a more competitive infrastructure. This promises to keep domestic manufacturing booming. Thus, it would be short-sighted to state that modern automation is stealing manufacturing jobs.
Staying Competitive in the Global Marketplace
Advancing technology has helped the U.S. economy compete with the rest of the world and provide a lot of opportunities. Modern-day machinery is 20% to 25% more productive than that in use five years ago. To compete with nations using cost-effective labor, the U.S. manufacturing industry has resorted to using enhanced machines and tools. By utilizing automation and CNC machines, businesses are able to reduce the number of manual tasks during production. Technology has made businesses more profitable and has reduced costs pertaining to work in process. Modern methods move raw materials off the floor faster and get jobs done more smoothly and swiftly than in the past. Even imports of equipment are beneficial to the U.S. economy as they help keep production costs as low as possible.
Modern Technology Creates New Jobs
Innovation always creates new jobs. With the reduction in manual labor, a need for new types of workers has emerged, particularly in more strategic manager-level positions. Because traditional manual tasks are now automated, today's manufacturing employee can focus on workflow analysis, control engineering, and software. Technological advancement also helps create jobs in other areas, such as tooling, chip conveying, and fixturing. Technologies that may impact the future of manufacturing include molecular and nanomanufacturing, microelectromechanical systems, biomaterials and bioprocessing, and freeform fabrication. Niche areas such as the medical devices industry offer higher wages. They recruit skilled workers who can handle sophisticated equipment to maintain stringent quality control standards. Interestingly, today's medical device companies are using traditional metalworking techniques and skills as alternatives to additive manufacturing technologies that rely on rapid prototyping and stereolithography to make highly customized products. The future of manufacturing depends on the creation of high-value niche areas.