Inside next-gen manufacturing5 minutes
In mid-February, the National Association of Manufacturers kicked off a cross-country trip visiting plants in more than a half-dozen states. The trip started in Troy, Michigan at “Automation Alley.”
Job growth from Michigan to Buffalo, NY
The trip began as the business of making things faces major changes. Today American manufacturers need to fill some 364,000 jobs, according to a report from Deloitte and NAM. Panasonic manufacturing jobs are among them. In Buffalo, New York, Panasonic is partnering with Tesla in the production of solar cells for roof tiles—a product that integrates high-efficiency photovoltaics with roofing materials—and we’re looking for next-gen workers.
According to the Deloitte/NAM report, over the next couple of years, the number of manufacturing jobs in this country is expected to climb to 3.5 million. What kind of jobs will they be?
Our findings show that most of these new jobs will be created by small to mid-size manufacturers. The majority of American manufacturers are considered “small,” with fewer than 500 employees, according the U.S. Census Bureau. Its data shows that in 2015, there were 251,774 firms in the sector and all but 3,813 were defined as small.
Disruptive tech in manufacturing
When these manufacturers create jobs tomorrow, they’ll have titles like supply chain specialist, manufacturing execution system developer, electrical technician and analyst. These titles relate to changes brought on by everything from supply chain automation to advanced robotics to artificial intelligence (AI). A few years ago, consulting firm McKinsey identified AI, advanced robotics and IoT among two dozen disruptive technologies that would account for trillions of dollars in economic value. Panasonic is deeply engaged in the advancement of almost half of these technologies. That’s important because when you’re creating experiences, chances are, you’re going to need to stitch together many of them into an integrated solution. Our future is focused on finding ways to apply our disruptive tech expertise to make radically new experiences possible.
Factory work is becoming a new experience. From Automation Alley in Feb., NAM CEO Jay Timmons talked about how innovation is changing work: “Some people may think ‘automation’ and ‘job creation’ are mutually exclusive. That’s simply not true. Innovation is expanding opportunities and what American workers can do."
Millennials bring new skills to manufacturing
Manufacturers must think about how disruptive technologies will change the way they do business, operate plants and train workers. Automation, for instance, means that a worker will handle more responsibilities and needs additional skills to fulfill them. Big Data skills, for instance, are important to advanced manufacturing. Panasonic’s award-winning PanaCIM is a manufacturing execution system that creates an ecosystem connecting disparate islands of data across an enterprise—production data, MRP/ERP and legacy systems. Understanding and applying such data is key to operating the system. Millennials (often defined as those now aged 20-40) come to manufacturing with new skills like MES management, but experts say that's just the start. “Millennials have already started changing the manufacturing and supply chains -- and for the better," according to an IndustryWeek report.
In support of growing manufacturers, Panasonic has invested heavily in its vision of a new manufacturing landscape–one that supports companies regardless of size, product mix or skill level. For instance, it designed its MES Manufacturing Execution System software to optimize the supply chain as a full-blown package and as an easy-to-install express system for companies with limited infrastructure. Panasonic introduced pick-and-place equipment that addresses the need for smaller lot sizes and tighter control over work in process and scheduling. Additionally, the Panasonic cloud9 Innovation Center, just outside Chicago, is a comprehensive facility where manufacturers can try out new applications, speak with experts and explore production hardware and complementary technology.
Learn more about disruptive technology and manufacturing.