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Deconstructing What It Means To Be An Advanced Manufacturing Company

August 16, 2017 by Midlothian Economic Development

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Technology is leaving its footprint everywhere. And perhaps one of the deepest imprints can be found in the manufacturing industry.

While this industry still weathers perceptions linked to lingering images of yesteryear’s crowded floors, hazardous working conditions and gloomy factory lines filled with exhausted assembly workers, today’s factories tell a different story. One that’s a far cry from that of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

To be sure, manufacturing has experienced a significant decline. In 1965, manufacturing accounted for 53 percent of the U.S. economy. But by 2016, that figure had dropped to 11.7 percent.

The good news is that manufacturing is making a comeback – and it’s better than ever, thanks to innovative technology.

Fresh, modern and clean, factories of today reflect the evolution that is defining the current age of automation – especially when it comes to advanced manufacturing.

Artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT) and copious amounts of data are leading to optimized functionality and supreme efficiency previously unimagined.

Keeping pace through change

In simplest terms, advanced manufacturing employs innovative technology to improve products or processes.

The term spans a vast number of industries, but one common thread connects all the companies: change.

To keep pace with a progressive marketplace and remain globally competitive, manufacturers have little choice but to embrace Industry 4.0 which marries computers and automation in seemingly sci-fi-esque fashion.   

According to a June 2017 article in Network World, Industry 4.0 is a bit of a fuzzy concept because it goes well beyond just connecting machines to other machines or automating another step in a production line with a robot.

But many industry experts do agree that Industry 4.0 signals a dramatic shift in manufacturing; a shift that takes manufacturing far beyond the boundaries of simple production and into new territory where value-added solutions and services fuse with next-level interconnectivity.

Technology is already impacting a vast range of industries ranging from robotics, aerospace and automotive to oil and gas, energy and so many more.

And without a doubt, people constitute an important catalyst in these flourishing industries.

Today’s advanced manufacturing positions demand critical thinking, technical skills, adaptability and a solution-oriented mindset. These positions also offer competitive wages.

According to the National Association of Manufacturers:

  • The manufacturing industry employs roughly 12.3 million Americans.
  • In 2015, the average manufacturing worker in the United States earned $81,289 annually, including pay and benefits.
  • Looking specifically at wages, the average manufacturing worker earned nearly $26.00 per hour, according to the latest figures, not including benefits. 
  • Over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed.

The Lone Star solution

In Texas, manufacturing makes up an impressive chunk of the state’s economy.

  • Texas manufacturing employs nearly 874,450 people at an average annual salary of $71,500.
  • GM and Toyota are the largest automotive manufacturing employers in Texas.
  • Manufacturers in Texas account for more than 14.3 percent of the total output in the state – more than $227 billion in 2015.

Breaking down that picture further, North Texas is home to the state’s most robust concentration of manufacturing activity and boasts 30 percent of Lone Star employment in the sector.

According to data from Workforce Solutions for North Central Texas, advanced manufacturing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro employs 131,692 while manufacturing employs 271,418.

A sampling of top employers in the DFW metro include Texas Instruments Inc., the General Motors assembly plant, Triumph Aerostructures, Lockheed Martin, Bell Helicopter and Alcon Laboratories and encompass industries involved in aviation, semiconductors, medical devices, consumer goods, automotive and more.

Advanced industries thrive in the region with the support of state-funded workforce training grants, a dynamic network of colleges and universities, and a steady influx of new Texas residents. The ways in which Texas companies can network, thrive and succeed are endless. 

As predictive analytics, smart factories and advanced materials become even more commonplace, locations that deliver lower operating costs, proximity to lucrative markets and access to critical talent will continue to propel manufacturing and advanced industries forward.

We may be a little biased, but we believe North Texas offers all the above and more … with a generous helping of Southern hospitality thrown in for good measure.

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