#53 – Inside Our Industry – Automation and the American Manufacturing Renaissance

Posted on | Inside Our Industry

As the world economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we look forward to seeing U.S. manufacturers embrace the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Automation and the American Manufacturing Renaissance
Hank TorbertContributor  |  Forbes.com  |  Jun 8, 2021

It is no secret that the manufacturing industry in the US has fallen behind over the last several decades, even though innovation in related technologies, including factory automation and robotics, are thriving in America’s universities and start-up community.

While some industries have embraced factory modernization, including the automotive and consumer electronics sectors, sourcing continues to favor countries where not only is the labor force less expensive, but the equipment and methods used in other countries has been proven to deliver higher quality products at lower costs.

It is time for the US to pivot from the mentality that automation and robotics is taking away jobs when, in fact, modernization along with education creates higher quality jobs and career opportunities when American factories can produce quality products at scale, leading to competitive pricing and healthy margins for the brands who bring products to market.

New technologies have always fueled the American and global economy, as breakthrough software and hardware innovations make what used to be impossible not only achievable but scalable.

The world is now in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Looking back, the first industrial revolution transformed manual production methods to machines, powered by team and water.

The second industrial revolution, which spanned the 19th and 20th centuries, drove tremendous economic growth with the advent of electricity, telegraph networks, rail transportation, and “production lines” which had a lasting impact on unemployment as traditional factory workers’ tasks were taken over by machines.

The third industrial revolution further accelerated the role of technology and is one that most of us witnessed in our lifetimes, leveraging computers, connectivity networks, the rise of the Internet, and the use of software automation to completely transform the way people and things interact, from PCs to mobile devices, websites to social media.

Today, we are in an even more accelerated industrial revolution. We are now seeing faster product development, more efficient product manufacturing, more intelligent supply chains, and simply higher quality goods with lower costs thus allowing for higher profits. Given the enormous amount of value being created, entrepreneurs and massive corporations have benefitted; however, a loss of manufacturing jobs has also resulted from this revolution.

The American ideal is built upon the premise that economic progress can benefit all when opportunities are created, even as digital transformation is underway. Because other countries have been more aggressive in adopting new automation and robotics solutions in manufacturing, the US has fallen behind, making prosperity for all even more elusive.

As we now embark on the economic recovery in the US, following the catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic, we can take a fresh look at manufacturing innovation, and embrace AI, machine learning, automation, and robotics to make our country, our businesses, and our people stronger.

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