Is manufacturing back to stay?

This week it feels as if manufacturing might be back in fashion, and that feels good. One reason for the change might be that I attended the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) at McCormick Hall in Chicago. As you may have read, the attendance totaled over 100,000 people, the most for any IMTS since 2002. Both the number of organizations displaying their wares and the head count of attendees reviewing the displays suggest that there is renewed interest in US manufacturing.
During the show, Harry Moser, founder of the Reshoring Initiative, delivered a heartening presentation on reshoring, the return of production that had been moved offshore. Harry's thesis is that much of the offshoring of US production results from inadequate analysis by management of the products that have been selected for offshore production. View http://www.imts.com/video/index.cfm?vid=706 for Harry’s talk. The Reshoring Initiative website (http://www.reshorenow.org/TCO_Estimator.cfm) has some useful templates for modeling the total cost of offshore production.
Another heartwarming statistic is the fact that our own Plant Services Job Board (http://jobs.plantservices.com/c/search_results.cfm?site_id=4329) is now geting about 25 new job postings per day. These are manufacturing-related jobs of the kind that our readers perform. It is wonderful to see US firms looking to hire production and maintenance techs, engineers, reliability professionals, and the other people who make manufacturing go.
Speaking of reliability, this skill set seems to present a special opportunity in the current market. The Great Recession has hit all new specialties hard. Reliability is no exception. As of today, SMRP has only about 2000 Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (CMRP) listed. This should be far below the pent up demand for these specialties. Anyone with maintenance and reliability experience might consider checking with SMRP (http://www.smrp.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1) to see what test dates and locations are coming up. The CMRP credential should be very handy as a specialty or as a tie-breaker for production engineers and techs who are seeking employment.
The reliability frame of mind is something that can enhance the performance of just about anyone in manufacturing. One of the reasons for reshoring American production is the quality and reliable delivery that is available from US manufacturers. Reliability is a skill set that can help make that promise a reality.
Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) is also a concept that is on the rise. Again, predictability of equipment performance with regard to uptime, output level, and quality drive OEE, and they are all facets of reliability. This makes the CMRP certification a great credential to add to anyone’s personal tool box.
The stars finally seem to be coming into alignment for manufacturing people to get back into their proper professional spots. So if you haven’t found your dream job as a store greeter or a barista, it might be time to dust off the resume and maybe add CMRP to it.