Manufacturing industries have been making use of robots and automation on a very large scale. Robots have been successful in meeting the requirements of precision, endurance, speed, and reliability. Robots perform all kinds of dangerous and dirty jobs. Robots also handle the manufacturing work which includes material handling (pick and place), welding, packaging, assembling, painting, palletizing, product testing and inspection.
There was an interesting talk given by Regina Dugan of DARPA on December 14, 2011 for the engineering students and social studies students at MIT titled; ”Just Make It” which of course is a ”take-off” literally on the Nike Brand theme; Just Do It! – in this talk she mentions an aircraft manufacturing company which works without assembly lines and has been able to increase time to build from start to finish by a factor of 2. Each aircraft stays put, the folks working on it move. Okay so, that makes sense, and Rolls Royce and other high-end auto manufacturers use similar techniques, as to many of the hand-crafted high-end specialty cars.
But a new crop of manufacturing jobs popped up in Greenvile. One such company is Standard Motor Products, a company that makes car parts. But the textile manufacturing jobs do not really look like the modern high tech manufacturing jobs. You won’t see any worker working up a sweat. In fact, manufacturing has changed greatly since the Industrial Revolution; the process is very automated with very little manual labor, and employees must be highly trained because they work with complicated microscopes and gages. Davidson described it more as a science lab than a typical auto plant.
Now then, on the official ”White House Blog” there was a posting back on June 24, 2011 by Erin Lindsay titled; ”President Obama Launches Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.” This appeared just after President Obama gave a speech at Carnegie Mellon University. Manufacturing and production are key to any advanced civilization, and we here in the US like to think we are the most advanced civilization of all.
The flipside is that offshore manufacturing leads to job losses in the manufacturer’s country of origin, but then this again creates an extra incentive for those workers who have lost jobs to work hard so as to scale the high value jobs which their country has a comparative advantage to produce.