MFG Day: More Than Opening Doors

Shop Floor Automations talks about how coming together helps us all

MFG Day is becoming a more common tradition with the kids, and teens, of the USA. Not every manufacturing company can open its doors to bring in new interest for this career field, but there are other resources to share. Shop Floor Automations (SFA) always looks forward to this annual event and sharing these alternative resources.

A Sign of the Times

Last year, around the time of MFG Day 2016, the Manufacturing Institute said that 47 percent of exports from the USA comes from the manufacturing sector. 2013 was the highest year on record, with 88 percent of USA exports being from the manufacturing sector, according to the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. A skills gap, plus an ongoing stream of retired workers leaving the manufacturing field, could be part of any drop in productivity for the manufacturing field.

There is hope. Aside from manufacturing companies taking part in MFG Day to open their doors to students, there was last year’s passing of H.R. 5587. The US House of Representatives voted last September at a heavy majority of 405 to 5 to approve the Strengthening Career & Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. This gives power back on a state and local level to communities that want more freedom to use federal funds to help citizens prepare for skilled jobs.

There are also other methods of opening doors to the youth of America to become interested in manufacturing jobs. There is value in using the venues of entertainment, helping veterans, implementing new solutions, and showing those entering the workforce why manufacturing jobs are great.

Entertainment to Educate

There are lots of entertaining resources for those who are interested in, or already involved in, the manufacturing community. One popular YouTube channel people love to check out is “Titans of CNC”, which has over 27k subscribers for their cinematic-style videos. There are also popular YouTubers such as “NYC CNC”, which has close to 200k subscribers, or even “JohnGrimsmo”, who has close to 50k subscribers.

Edge Factor is a growing multimedia venue for the manufacturing industry – with videos that provide an educational platform for technical career pathways, coverage of live events having to do with manufacturing resources, and videos from regional organizations, communities and economic development groups. Amanda Rosenblatt of SFA got a chance to interview the Founder of Edge Factor, Jeremy Bout.

“If you weren’t already engaged with getting the next generation or the next pipeline of workers coming into your plant, you better be focused on it now,” Jeremy said of the current manufacturing skills gap. “We are going to be in some significant situations where we’re challenged. The challenges of getting enough people to do the work that we already had was huge. If you bring in a lot more of the work back onto American soil, the problem is just going to get deeper.”

Edutainment, AKA educational videos presented in an entertaining fashion such as Edge Factor’s programming, is a great way to pull in interest for the manufacturing career field. People love reality programs lately, so focusing on characters or stories in this community make the work seem more appealing – a generation enamored with pop culture, creativity, and fame can realize manufacturing is a venue for all three factors.

Giving Back to Veterans

When a veteran comes home from serving our country, they may be wounded, or be grappling with PTSD, or are simply struggling with what to do after their time in the military. Workshops for Warriors (WFW) is helping veterans find their footing in the manufacturing industry, which is welcoming these skilled veterans with open arms to fill vacant jobs.

“As you may or may not know, veterans get up to four years to be trained in a particular military occupation, but they have less than one week to transition as civilians,” WFW founder Hernan Luis Y Prado said in an interview with Amanda of Shop Floor Automations. “The challenging part that we have is that we know people love veterans, but loving a veteran does not make them a good machinist, or fabricator, or welder.”

WFW provides training and nationally recognized certifications to these veterans. In the Winter of 2018, WFW will be able to accept the GI Bill, which will be a huge help to those veterans who aren’t located in the immediate San Diego area, where WFW’s home base is.

“They’re used to being connected, they’re used to getting training, and they’re used to performing well,” Hernan continues.  “So if you can train vets, get them nationally recognized certifications, and then place them into manufacturing careers, you will see America thrive and take off like she has never taken off before.”

Software & Hardware Saves Jobs?

How do manufacturing integrators help with the skills gap? SFA President Greg Mercurio’s sentiment is that money saved with manufacturing integration solutions help companies avoid buying new machines, and helps to hire more skilled workers.

“When you automate a shop floor and bring connectivity to it, you can interface to old machines and new machines,” Greg explains. “As well as monitoring the efficiency and uptime of these machines, it’s a great resource to have.” 

It is also important to note that those entering the manufacturing career field will be younger and more experienced with technology. Integrating Touch HMI with an old machine to replace bar code readers, using PDM to help a shop floor go paperless, using software to help manage thousands of programs, as well as replacing floppy disk drives with emulators, will be much easier for a younger generation to add to their daily routine. These technologies are relatively easy for non-millennials to pick up using, and anyone of any age on the shop floor can enjoy the added benefits of saved time, money, and resources.

Why Machinists Love Their Jobs

“The pay is good, and for me, I get a lot of satisfaction knowing that I can turn a piece of raw material into a finished product,” says Ben Molinar, who is a Shop Manager for Archer AWC Frac Valves and an SFA customer. “Also, knowing that the parts that I am making will go to a customer somewhere to be used in their operations is a pretty awesome feeling.”

“A standard, four flute end mill which looks so simple really became a catalyst for just recognizing that everything is made in using that one tool,” says Jeremy of Edge Factor, whose path to manufacturing started by experimenting with a five-axis machine after graduating high school. “The diversity of things that an end mill can create is shocking and astounding, so for me, the end mill was a gateway to a much, much bigger journey in life.”

“I encourage all the young people out there that the machine shop is where you actually use math, trigonometry, algebra– it’s in the machine shop,” says James Baker, a CNC Supervisor at the Amarillo Gear Company and another SFA customer. “I can program, understand and axis machines, and live tool equipment. We have 35k programs online. It’s a big deal.”

So what is the lesson here? Not every manufacturing company can open their doors to bring in students to teach them how full of opportunities the manufacturing industry is. However, it is clear that there are plenty of resources out there to get the youth of our country passionate about filling these vacant jobs.

About SFA: Shop Floor Automations is a Southern California-based MFG integrator since 1998. SFA carries the top brands of software and hardware to provide for their customers across the United States. Next year, they will be celebrating 20 years in business. Find them on social media, call (877) 611-5825, or email for more info via info@shopfloorautomations.com