We throw around the term “innovation” quite often here at the NAMC. This is because we understand that the manufacturing industry is one of the most innovative and technologically advanced industries in the world today. In fact, it seems like manufacturing has always been a frontrunner when it comes to predicting and paving the way for other industries to take advantage of the technologies available to us.
In today’s blog, let’s go back in time and look at manufacturing history. Specifically, we’ll be looking at how manufacturing has innovated throughout the years and its effect on society at the time.
Early 19th Century – Mass Production & Interchangeable Parts
Let’s start at the rise of what we know of as mass production. Before the well-known factory manufacturing system, the production of goods was mostly handled by artisans, creating handcrafted products. While we definitely won’t shrug off a good handmade product, it doesn’t do a whole lot when it comes to getting products into the hands of people across the country (and the world) or keeping prices down.
Along come individuals, such as Eli Whitney, Henry Ford, and Kiichiro Toyoda, who devised processes that allowed goods, such as fabrics, guns, and other materials, to be mass produced within large factories and distributed far and wide. Whitney also realized that if he used interchangeable parts within machinery and other products, that he could easily replace those parts if broken, effectively extending the lifespan of all products.
The Industrial Revolution
The rise of coal power and machine production changed not only the young manufacturing industry, but also the world. Factory workers now had control over coal-powered machines, producing textiles, fabrics, and other products at a never-before-seen rate. Entire cities and regions became known for their manufacturing workforce and factories, where almost everyone in the family made contributions. The United States had entered its own industrial revolution, changing the nation and the world forever.
1913 – Henry Ford Installs The First Moving Assembly Line
While it may seem surreal to think about today, when automobiles were first invented, they were rare, expensive, and unreliable. Until1913, when Henry Ford created the first moving assembly line for the mass production of cars. This moving assembly line greatly increased efficiency, taking the time it took to build a car from over 12 hours, to just 2 hours and 30 mins, sending a massive shockwave through the manufacturing industry that is still seen today.
1983s – The First 3D Printing
Let’s flash forward a bit. In the early 80s, Chuck Hull of 3D Systems invested in the first 3D printers, an invention that would go on to unlock a nearly endless supply of manufacturing opportunities. While limited at the time (Chuck had first used his invention to print a tiny cup for eyewash), this invention would go on to redefine not only the manufacturing industry, but the print and medical industries as well. And, as 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing advance, we’re seeing more and more complex 3D printed items, such as prosthetics, food, video game controllers, clothing, phone cases, and even houses!
Perfecting Automation and Advanced Robotics
While simple robotics can be seen in the manufacturing industry as far back as the mid-50s, the 21st century has seen an enormous increase in advanced robotics technology. These robotic and machine technologies allowed automation to flourish, maximizing product output. Modern robotics also allow human workers to work in a safe environment, as these machines do not tire, while maximizing work efficiency, allowing repetitive tasks to be performed automatically without human error.
These robots fill numerous roles, building cars, assembling medical devices, and more, without the possibility of putting human lives at risk. Automation practices can also be programmed and reprogrammed to fulfill multiple tasks, making robots highly flexible workers within factories across the nation.
WILL ROBOTS REPLACE HUMAN MANUFACTURERS?
The short and honest answer is a definitive no.
Robots will not be replacing human workers anytime soon. In fact, as the prior generation of manufacturing workers retire and robotics becomes more advanced, the industry will need to bring in a new workforce, trained in technological adaptability and these brand methods of manufacturing.
The manufacturing industry is creating new opportunities every single day through technological innovation. These technologies are an incredible tool that require a skilled hand to wield them. You may not be working physically on an assembly line, but you’ll be controlling and programming the machine that does, which is something that we at the NAMC find very exciting.
Living In Industry 4.0
We cannot leave this blog about technological manufacturing innovation without talking about Industry 4.0, a concept that will go on to change the manufacturing industry forever. Technology 4.0 essentially boils down to machine learning and communication. The machines and robotics used within the industry actively “speak” to each in the form of sharing data.
From this shared data, these machines feed information back to each other, improving adaptability, and to their human controllers, allowing them to tweak, perform maintenance, and to maximize productivity as necessary. As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, the manufacturing industry is leading the way.
How Can AMTEP Place You Into Manufacturing History?
The Advanced Manufacturing Training Expansion program was created in anticipation of the further and rapid technological growth within the manufacturing industry. As we have stated previously, the prior generation of manufacturing workers are now retiring, taking with them years of experience, and the industry will require new, motivated employees to fill the gaps left in the workforce.
As such, AMTEP was put together to not only fill those gaps, but to also to train the incoming manufacturing workforce in these technologies, giving them an advantage when it comes to adapting to the always-changing world of manufacturing. With over 415 FREE hours of hands-on training, job placement specialists, and local support, this incredible program is placing young individuals (such as yourself?) into manufacturing history.