Manufacturers are looking to green technologies to lessen the impact on the environment and on their bottom line.
As this year comes to an end and we look toward the new one (as well as a new decade!), you may be making decisions on changes that will impact your bottom line in 2021. One of the most impactful ways to do this is by considering green manufacturing processes and practices. Not only will these changes create a smaller imprint on the Earth’s energy reserves and limited resources, but they will also likely save you money, too.
The question of how to make manufacturing more eco-friendly is going to be a big one in the coming decades, especially as end-users increasingly demand products with transparent supply chains and smaller ecological footprints.
Here is a list of five changes to consider.
Consider Technological Advances
Over the last few years, several new technologies have been introduced to manufacturing that allows design and prototyping to happen off the manufacturing floor. Using VR or AR technologies to evaluate designs or process changes will help limit waste in the real-world environment. These technologies allow your design team to start over or back up in their design process without any lost product.
Once a digital design has been perfected and analyzed on your virtual platform, you can move it to real-world prototyping, and then to your manufacturing line. Other advances like machine learning can improve your plant’s workflow by limiting downtime, improving your supply chain, and suggesting better use of human labor.
Go Paperless to Help the Environment
Companies like Tesla–the king of green manufacturers–have thrived with paperless environments, relying instead on sets of visual work instructions. This change creates a significant environmental impact, but more importantly, it tends to improve quality and boost productivity. When instructions are relayed electronically, there’s no chance a worker will accidentally pull from an incorrect revision or out-of-date work order since these disappear with every update. Fewer mistakes mean less wasted material and lower scrap rate; that lower scrap rate will have a significant impact on your costs.
The field is good for 4-year graduates, too. Workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher make more within manufacturing fields than they do in other industries.
While blue-collar workers are paid well in manufacturing, the proportion of blue-collar jobs is shrinking compared to higher-skilled positions. From 1991 to 2016, the percentage of good (starting at $35,000 with a median of $56,000) blue-collar jobs had declined from 27% to 16% of the manufacturing workforce.
Manufacturers are now experiencing a shortage of properly trained workers with skills in installation, production, and maintenance trades. But fast-tracking prepartion is possible. Workers prepare for jobs by completing apprenticeships, certificates, or 2-year programs.
Industries also need degreed workers who understand new advances in manufacturing. For example, manufacturing needs workers that understand AI, VR/AR usage, robotics adoption, the use of digital twins, and other high-tech processes.
Over one-fourth of the manufacturing workforce will retire over the next decade. Unfortunately, this will only deepen existing challenges facing the industry.
What Kinds of Jobs are Available?
Many careers in manufacturing would qualify as a “good-paying job.” But some of the best that don’t require a 4-year degree include:
CNC programmer. Some manufacturers run their own “boot camps” to train potential workers
Electrician. This job typically requires state licensing.
Warehouse supervisor. Logistics experience and/or training is often valued more than a degree.
Welder. Experience or a 2-year degree suffices.
Maintenance Mechanic. Automation equipment is expensive. Anyone with mechanical aptitude who can increase its longevity is valued.
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