Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Evolution of Manufacturing in America - Personal Stories from One Company

Standard Motor Products manufacturing facility in Greenville SC
Maddie Parlier at work.  (photo by Dean Kaufman/The Atlantic)
This is one of the best articles I have ever read on the current state of American manufacturing. The author takes an in-depth look at one company that started a century ago. He compares and contrasts production methods and workers of not-too-long-ago versus workers of today. He compares and contrasts the skill levels of workers today and yesterday.

The personal examples of two machine operators illustrate the need today for advanced training in precision machining, CNC programming, metalurgy and other advanced manufacturing skills. But he also discusses how the high level of automation will make traditional manufacturing jobs scarce and difficult to obtain.  Plus, he constantly addresses the issue of competition with low wage countries like Mexico and China.

Most gripping, however is that the story features a few specific people in the company, really driving home the personal stories about how changes in manufacturing technologies have affected real Americans. The stories are compelling and educational and they have a much larger meaning for American manufacturing and our society overall.

So here is the must read article:  Making It in America - January/February 2012 Atlantic Magazine

This article was also featured in a two part audio series on NPR:

Thank you to the AmericanManufacturing.org Blog for it's article The new factory worker which led me to the original article in The Atlantic Magazine.

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