Manufacturing in 2023: Old Fashioned Ideas in a Post Pandemic World

There’s no shortage of impacts made by the spread of Covid-19 over the past few years. 

Though we appear to be on the upswing after years of economic turmoil and mandated shutdowns, the impact the pandemic has had on us as individuals, as a country and as a global society will never disappear. 

If there was one good thing to come out of the past few years of struggle, however, it’s that we now know the manufacturing community can “no longer rely on imports to provide the products needed to protect the health and welfare of Americans…” or “…our national security. 

At least, that’s the bold opinion of industry pundit and Industry Reimagined 2030 VP Michele Nash who has dedicated her career to revitalizing American manufacturing and who believes the pandemic was a “wake up call” for an industry that she believes is in the midst of a “big creative disruption.” 

Diving into the future of American manufacturing, Nash states her belief that today’s U.S. manufacturers are at the dawning of a new narrative for domestic industry, but notes her concerns that “old world views” are getting in the way of the sector’s overall progress. 

Speaking with MDDI, Nash explains her perception that there seems to be a lingering, old world misconception around manufacturing that she believes has become a hinderance on the nation’s progress and has opened opportunities for foreign markets – like China — to stand in the way of America’s goal of repatriation. 

Doubling down on this claim, Nash states her belief that China has now successfully hindered America’s goal of repatriation. 

“The big misconception since 2000 is that we needed to be a global economy, and that means sourcing the cheapest parts…” 

This was not true then and it’s not true today. 

Recalling the hardships in manufacturing over the past 20 years, Nash notes industry concerns about the environment and the supply chain not being resilient. “China has a plan to be the superpower of the 21st century. When our interests don’t converge, we won’t be able to get our products.” 

Nash is no stranger to the struggles that her fellow manufacturers face on a daily basis. 

From 2000 to 2004, she, herself, claims to have lost 20% of her database of manufacturing companies, totaling upwards of 240 businesses that, ultimately, moved their manufacturing out of California to more economically viable locations. 

A self-described “big proponent of lean manufacturing,” Nash believes one way for the U.S. to combat this negative trend of globalization is to focus on upskilling the domestic workforce and embrace Industry 4.0 by investing in sensors, AI and digitization so workers can begin seeing data and getting metrics in real-time. 

… But that, too, has become a problem as the list of qualified applicants to fill the jobs needed to help run the digital transformation process continues to dwindle. 

Nash – like many of us — has seen firsthand the manufacturing community shrink as employees look towards more aesthetically attractive employment opportunities. 

She believes this is, again, due to old-world notions spreading misconceptions about the attractiveness, dependability and financial opportunity of a job in manufacturing in the 21st century. 

“The misperception of manufacturing declining is a problem. When you have the view that manufacturing is in decline, parents don’t encourage their children to go into these jobs. They see manufacturing jobs as dumb, dirty, and dangerous. Yet there are plants where the floor is clean enough to eat off. Manufacturing jobs pay higher than service jobs. You can go to college for these jobs to get certified.” 

“There are vibrant opportunities in manufacturing that are worth billions of dollars. Those opportunities are good for millions of jobs. The electrification of everything, additive manufacturing, industry 4.0, smart cities, and agriculture technology, is changing everything. Opportunities to make products in the U.S. for the local market are growing… manufacturing is less expensive now because of technology.” 

The Wrap Up

Michele Nash is just one out of thousands who believe the future of manufacturing lies in automation. 

A digital revolution in manufacturing is the only solution to successfully revitalizing the aging U.S. sector. 

If America wants to be able to successfully compete with the foreign entities that are taking away their jobs and industries, they first need to make sure all the players are all on the same playing field. That means updating outdated factories and upskilling their undereducated workforce. 

Once this is done, they can – as President Biden put it — start the process of becoming the world’s leader in manufacturing once again. 

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about how you can start – or continue – your facilities digital transformation, give the team at Rain Engineering a call. 

Our years of manufacturing expertise are just what you need to transform your factory into the success you know it can be!