Manufacturing -- The News

Augury listens to machines. But we also listen to the world – to better know our place in helping make it a better place. Here’s a round-up of some of the manufacturing-related press that caught our eye in May: disruptive technologies from yesteryear, the importance of bringing diversity to the factory floor, and European inscrutability.

Disruptive Technologies of Yesteryear

“Just like in the 19th century, lawmakers today aren’t arguing about whether to build roads or water pipes. They’re arguing about what kind of country they wanted to live in,” according to ‘What The “Infrastructure” Fight Is Really About’.

This fascinating article looks back to when the US government invested in such disruptive technologies as canals, railways and telegraph services. These innovations worked to shrink the country, so people could more easily travel and trade further afield. In the process, the US transitioned from farm republic to capitalist democracy.

In short: the ROI was extreme.

“It also created new winners and losers and fundamentally altered the people’s relationships to their neighbors, families and government.”

Today, the majority of US citizens “believe that strengthening the country’s physical and human infrastructure will underwrite future economic growth.”

Ironically, investing in infrastructure may also be a way to go back in time: “to counter decades of erosion in what the postwar middle class once took for granted (good highways and schools, private pensions and health care, stable retirement systems).”

Diversifying – And Rebranding – The Factory Floor

“As many as 2.1 million manufacturing jobs will be unfilled through 2030,” according to ‘American Factories Are Desperate For Workers. It’s A $1 Trillion Problem’.

The main problem is misperception. Many young Americans see factory jobs as dead-end since: 1) the robots are taking over (no, they’re not – they’re just very good at the heavy lifting), 2) the jobs are being shipped overseas anyway (if anything, the jobs are only coming back), and 3) the industry is “low-progression and low-knowledge” (again no: you’re confusing it with the sector that is currently stealing all the entry-level talent: “warehouse and distribution centers that are feeding the e-commerce boom”).

According to a study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, the solutions is not only in building on digital literacy and infrastructure, but also actively working to attract a more diverse workforce – which dovetails nicely with the fact that we are entering Pride Month.

A bit of rebranding may also help. After all, who would you prefer to be? Homer from Sector 7-G? Or a “Machine Health Specialist”?

Is The Bureaucratic Giant Awakening?

Speaking of misperceptions… “In March, Europe’s vaccine procurement was the world’s laughingstock. […] But now, the critics are falling silent. European countries are vaccinating in record numbers, all more or less at the same pace,” according to ‘Industrial Policy Saved Europe’s Vaccine Drive’.

And how did they do it? By collaborating with industry and bringing oversight – and control – to their supply chains.

“The commission sees the vaccine procurement saga as a test case. Last week, it proposed more EU protection for other sectors vulnerable to (geo)political weaponization and to make the single market more resilient to supply restrictions, border closures, or fragmentation in the future.”

So, is the once demure Old World beginning to flex some muscles? Stay tuned…

Climate Concerns Go Mainstream

“In the space of a few hours, Exxon Mobil Corp. was bested by an upstart shareholder seeking to shake up the company’s board. Chevron Corp. investors instructed the company to cut its greenhouse gas emissions. A Dutch court ordered Royal Dutch Shell to slash emissions by 45 percent. And while the oil industry was taking its hits, longtime ally Ford Motor Co. widened its distance from fossil fuels,” according to ‘“Powerful Signal”: In A Single Day, Big Oil Suffers Historic Blows on Climate’.

Many are shouting: ‘Game-changer!’, ‘Mind-blowing!’ and ‘There’s no going back!’.

“The rebukes signal that climate concerns, once confined to environmental activists and barely registering with some Washington lawmakers, have become mainstream thinking in C-suites and on Wall Street, analysts said. The visible effects of climate change, action by governments, and shifting consumer sentiment are transforming the world in which companies do business.”

Armed with these insights, the pivoting industry should read this article from earlier this year: ‘It’s Time for Oil & Gas Companies To Invest In AI’.

We’d be only too happy to elaborate.

Interested in reading ‘Manufacturing – The News, April 2021’?