National Manufacturing Day is Oct. 4

October 2, 2013

Oct. 4 is National Manufacturing Day. And in Illinois, we are recognizing manufacturing throughout the whole month. And we should. It is an opportunity to celebrate our deep manufacturing traditions and plan for our vital role in today’s complex global economy. This year’s manufacturing celebration comes at a critical manufacturing moment. Much is being said about a manufacturing renaissance and the reshoring, or return of production, to the United States. We are witnessing significant investments and efforts to nurture manufacturing at federal, state and local levels.

Illinois has always had a deep manufacturing tradition. Starting with lumber and wood manufacturing in the 1800s, to food, metal, plastics, biopharmaceutical and nanotechnology, generations of manufacturing have made the state a global manufacturing powerhouse in most manufacturing subsectors. Illinois manufacturing today has tremendous strength. For example, our productivity is the envy of the rest of the world, almost 30 percent higher than any other nation and 10 times higher than countries like China. Our supply chain strength and the numerous headquarters that call Illinois home, create an essential hub for regional, national and global commerce. Ninety-three percent of Illinois exports are manufactured goods.

Yet, it is a time of tremendous transition. Process and product innovations are fundamentally changing manufacturing and the necessary workforce skills. As a large number of baby boomer owners prepare to retire, how they transition their business will greatly affect the future manufacturing landscape. And it is a time of tremendous complexity because of globalization and technology. The free-market economy now has 7 billion people creating intense competition and near unlimited market opportunity.

Our manufacturing leaders are up for the challenge. Our talent, our workforce, is a critical foundation for building on our strengths, ensuring effective transitions, and responding to the global complexity. Yet, we are challenged to overcome a skills mismatch resulting in a situation with relatively high unemployment and numerous jobs going unfilled.

During this manufacturing day and month, we encourage you to take time to recognize the manufacturers in your communities. This is our opportunity to connect with future generations, help address a challenging skills gap, and take charge of the image of manufacturing. Numerous open houses across the state will be highlighting our industries and those organizations focused on preparing the future workforce. See http://www.mfgday.com/.

Be proud of “Made in Illinois”!

David Boulay, president
Illinois Manufacturing Center

Amy Fitzgerald, Marketing Manager
Illinois Manufacturing Center Headquarters in Peoria; other offices in Rockford, Carbondale and Park Ridge

From the Oct. 2-8, 2013, issue


One Comment

  1. Daniel Robert Smyth

    October 2, 2013 at 10:16 am

    News flash, Our productivity is NOT the envy of this world or any other!
    Check out Mexico, China, Korea, and the whole list of those places that will do the jobs Americans will not do! While you are at it, check out the child labor abuses, the pollution, the manufactured poverty, and the power of their governments.

    Here in Illinois, we are systematically removing traces of our past manufacturing empire. Rockford, the once milling machine and screw capital of the world, manufactures little to nothing, outside of packaging to put parts made in China in packaging made in the USA. Gone are the giant wood mills that used to be the only place in the Midwest where you could get quality shaped hardwoods for your up scale homes and businesses. Gone are the stamping plants like Amerock, that served the entire USA and thoe overseas who only wanted the best. Gone are the bakeries that used to fill our city with the smells of fine breads all day and night. Gone are the companies that hired employees until they could no longer work, and that made sure the employees were taken care of after working to retirement without needing to belong to a Union. Gone are the dairies like Muller Pinehurst, where you could actually see and pet the cows that gave up their milk for you. Gone are the watch makers, and the toy makers.

    We need to look behind us to see where we have been, before we can see where we should go to or move away from. Sadly, our leaders are looking through their rose colored glasses as if they has a clear picture.

    Our unemployment numbers are much higher than they are reported to be. Unemployment numbers are taken from the number of people who sign up for, and who can certify that they are unemployed. These unemployed people that no longer get benefits because their benefits have ended, usually stop certifying, and are then not counted as unemployed. What is really wrong, if that when a person is unemployed, and fails to certify for unemployment, our government counts him as having found a job! It is normal for an unemployed person to stop certifying for benefits when his benefits are exhausted, because they do not understand that the certification is needed to keep the numbers current and true!

    These unemployed people that are uncounted, usually are lumped into an imaginary group of people who have stopped looking for work! Really, Who stops looking for work?

    The manufacturing market has changed since the 1800s. No need for horse tenders, or coal buckets to be filled, no need to have 70 people standing in a line waiting to put on one screw nut or lift heavy objects from one platform to another. Today, most manufacturing jobs to any scale are done by robotic assistance. Robots desire no breaks and their resting time is less than humans would require. Robots don’t use unions, and when they are retired, there is no gold watch waiting for them when they are to be replaced.

    In time, only the smallest of manufacturers will even hire humans for their skills. When the machines go offline unexpectedly, humans that can repair the machines will make a good salary when they are employed, but each generation of machine is made that much better, allowing for less and less human intervention.

    We need to stop fooling ourselves to believe we need to work harder to re-tool the human brain. In 20 years, manufacturing will be double the speed and at half the cost. As well, manufacturing will all but drop it’s need for human contact outside of someone turning on and off the power for system upgrades.

    Educate for the future? Be educated in physics, thermodynamics and propulsion systems. Hydraulic and electrical systems will need updating, and perhaps you can make your own computer program someday that will be the envy of the manufacturing world. One thing for sure, is that the future holds less and less need for actual human interaction. Change with the times or be changed by them just the same!

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