Intelligent Manufacturing – Part I: Manu-Services, a new production paradigm?

In our previous reports and articles, we’ve examined a lot about the way in which we create goods, ship them, and even how we’re leveraging social media to change the way that the manufacturing industry is viewed. We’ve taken a look at technological progress, as well as how and why the changes in the way we produce goods and provide services to our customers are taking place.
An examination of the services that we are providing and how they play into the manufacturing process, as well as how they affect the manufactured goods and the jobs required for support is also in order. It is that service and that change in manufacturing that we’d like to address here.

Modern industry learned a lot of lessons from the recent financial recession. There have been literally decades of lassitude in manufacturing that quite simply contributed to the decay of the economy in their own way. Today, according to the experts, there is a serious need for broad scope reform in the way in which we see manufacturing in order to re-balance our efforts and our funding of manufacturing.

The outlook today is that manufacturing; the making of items is not so much the area of importance and perhaps should not be the area of concentration in and of itself. It’s not the moral aspects of making things with our hands or the sense of satisfaction, or even the products themselves that are the most important aspect of manufacturing today, although of course those things do enter into play.
What makes manufacturing so important today is not the creation of things or goods, but the way in which it feeds into the financial marketplace and because that manufacture is highly export-intensive, innovative and productive, three things that all advanced economies desperately need as explained in this article: 3 Things All Advanced Economies Desperately Need
There’s one problem with talking about manufacturing as being nothing more than making things. It’s a great deal more than making things. It is creating products, manufacturing to exacting specifications and safety standards, working within specified legalities, taking the product to market, advertising it, shipping it, and a vast array of other things such as customer service and customer relationship management. There is nothing simple about manufacturing today.

In a report that was done by The Work Foundation, a subsidiary of Lancaster University in the UK, More Than Making Things, Andrew Sisson writes that about 40% or a bit more of manufacturing jobs actually involve hands on manufacturing. The remainder jobs are in support services to the manufacturer or to the people who are creating the actual goods. To coin the term, the largest part of manufacturing is in Manu-Services.

Today most companies in the United States, due to their massive involvement with other areas of support for the goods and services that they produce, consider themselves to be Manu-Services companies, selling both goods and services to the customers that they serve.
In their report, the Work Foundation stated that they believed that most of the growth that will take place in the immediate future in manufacturing may not be in the actual processes involved in the making of goods but would take place in the Manu-Services that surrounded the process of making those goods.
Specifically they believe–and many manufacturers agree–that the greatest need for growth and the best place to concentrate our energies and our funding for that growth will be in supporting services that bring the goods to market and provide for the aftercare of the customer.
How and why can these services grow and how much growth is necessary to provide for the smooth delivery of our manufactured products to buyers from around the globe? Our next session will take a look at what the various Manu-Services actually are and how they play into our economy and our own business growth.

James Kemper is the president of W. H. Meanor & Associates, an executive placement & training company specializing in engineering & manufacturing careers. He can be reached at: jms@whmeanor.com or 704-372-7640 #102 or visit at www.whmeanor.com