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Manufacturing Labor Is High-Skilled Labor

Posted: October 25th, 2011 | By: Eagle Tech


A recent Reuters piece helps emphasize a challenge facing the manufacturing industry, and and the economy as a whole: technological advances in manufacturing (and in the products being manufactured) in the US have increasingly meant that manufacturing labor no longer consists of menial tasks for day laborers. Instead, factory workers have to be highly trained technicians and engineers, able to respond to changes in demand and factory conditions and actively pursue solutions. From Reuters:

A survey by ManpowerGroup found that a record 52 percent of U.S. employers have difficulty filling critical positions within their organizations — up from 14 percent in 2010.

Owens said his company [Siemens], which counts manufacturing behemoths Caterpillar and Motorola among its clients, has at any given time about 200 open positions .

“We are pro-actively working to fill them. It can take 90 to a hundred days, probably, to fill them,” he told Reuters. “We are creating jobs. We just don’t necessarily have the right people to fill them.”

On average, companies usually take seven weeks to fill job openings.

MISMATCH OF SKILLS AND JOBS

Most of the jobs hard to fill are for skilled trades, Internet technology, engineers, sales representatives and machine operators.

Yet American colleges are producing fewer math and science graduates as students favor social sciences, whose workload is perceived to be manageable, leading to a skills mismatch.

Math, engineering, technology and computer science students accounted for about 11.1 percent of college graduates in 1980, according to government data. That share dropped to about 8.9 percent in 2009.

If global manufacturing continues to rebound from the recent economic downturn, this trend could lead to higher wages in manufacturing. However, it also underlines the need for the workforce to be highly educated, both at primary and secondary levels, and through continuing education and on-the-job training.

Eagle Technologies Group is an industry leader in the design and installation of Factory Automation Systems worldwide.


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Reasons Automation May Not Edge out the Manual Workstation

Posted: October 18th, 2011 | By: Eagle Tech



Our last post focused on the growing trend in manufacturing towards higher-skilled, more technical labor in manufacturing. Today, we’re going to talk about a few things that we think aren’t changing any time soon.

Automation has brought a faster pace and greater efficiency to many manufacturing plants.
However, some of those plants haven’t faired well in the economy. Smaller order production,
reductions in payroll budgets and other issues have made the automated systems less effective
than they were when the company was booming. One thing that plant managers must consider
is that the systems are designed to fit the needs of the company. So, when production changes,
so must the automation system. For some companies, this means bringing back the manual
workstation.

The manual workstation is the traditional industrial work area for individual laborers. It is equipped
with tools, a close proximity to materials and everything else needed to complete a certain task.
The workstations may be set up to add a certain component to the product or to assemble a
portion that can’t be done with automated hands. They haven’t disappeared from the production
floor entirely. However, companies eager to jump on the automation bandwagon do sometimes
overlook the ways that the manual workstation can help.

In smaller production runs, the automation system and manual workstation can work hand and
hand in an area that is often overlooked in cost reduction analysis–transporting products from
one station to another. This isn’t an area where value is added to the product, but the time wasted
and the unintentional damage done while transporting can save the company some much needed
dollars in a down economy.

When a assembler transports a precision tuned, measured item the vibrations, however minor
can upset the calibrations. Conveyor systems used in automation are designed to run smoothly,
transporting the unit with minimum jostling. Components stay in tact. The conveyor system also
ends the cycle initiated by having to stop work and carry the units to the next station, only to
return to the works station and build momentum once again. Instead, the assembler placed the
unit on the conveyor before beginning another unit. No momentum is lost as the assembler builds
the act of placing the unit on the conveyor into the process. This will speed up production.

Another bonus of integrating automated systems and manual workstations is that small
production orders are easily created. There is no major setup tasks needed, as much of the work
is done at the work station. There, you swap out tools and materials. On a fully automated
system, you would have to unload unused materials, load new ones, breakdown specialized
machinery that won’t be used on the next product and more. With the integration, a few moments
to adjust is needed before beginning the next order.

Integrating automation and manual workstations is something that you will have to accomplish
with your equipment supplier. The systems are so specialized and each plant has its own needs,
so a cookie-cutter system is bound to fail in covering your plant needs. In many case, the
materials you need to integrate the system may already be sitting obsolete on the plant floor.

Eagle Technologies Group is an industry leader in the design and installation of Factory Automation Systems worldwide.


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A Closer Look at the Plant Swaging Operator Job

Posted: October 11th, 2011 | By: Eagle Tech


Forming plastic and metal is one of many essential jobs within a factory. The machines called
forgers and swages use force to make bends, crimps, semi-complete cuts and other forms into
the material. Having a swaging and a forge operator onsite can save a company in the cost
of purchasing the parts from an outside source. The shipping time and costs are also savings.
Let’s look at the essential job of the swaging machine operator, one of the little known skilled
positions within the plant.

Swaging Duties

The operator is often more than the person who forms the materials. Swaging operators also
maintain the equipment by performing basic preventive maintenance duties required every day.
The operator performs the set up duties, changing components as needed for the required project.
The blueprints for the project are the swaging operator’s marching orders for the project.

Equipment

The force used to form the metal and plastic is exerted on a machine as small as a bench swaging
attached to a table or an industrial-sized hydraulic machine that takes up a large portion of floor
space. Smaller swaging machines are used in manual workstations and by small manufacturers
who have found the need for their own in-house forger. The large machines are maintained by
companies with high production volume of units that require the shaped parts.

Training and Qualifications

This is a skilled position. Swaging operators are trained forgers who are well versed on the
needs and requirements of the machinery. They are trained in reading and translating blueprints,
mechanical engineering and repair as well as quality control. A high school diploma is necessary
for the job. Most swaging operators learn on the job, answering to the head of the forging
department who assigns a trainer. He may start off in the company in some assembly or
maintenance capacity before working up to a swaging position.

Cold molded metals are a staple in manufacturing. Whether they are crimped, curled, slit or bent, the metals are created using swaging machinery under the watchful eye of a skilled operator. This position is vital to manufacturing companies whose specialize in industrial materials and others that have a heavy focus on tubing, for example. Inquire in forging departments for positions that will allow assemblers to work up to a swaging position. This skilled position is in
demand, and any experience with blueprint reading and machine operating will get your foot in
the door of the factory.

Eagle Technologies Group is an industry leader in the design and installation of Factory Automation Systems worldwide.


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A Bright Spot for Manufacturing in September

Posted: October 4th, 2011 | By: Eagle Tech


The Wall Street Journal reports that manufacturing output was up slightly in September, but it goes on to note that:

Industries used 77.4% of their capacity in September, up from 77.3% in August. Capacity utilization has barely budged during the recovery, climbing just 1% from the same time a year ago.

In other words, there is still a lot of capacity (labor included) that isn’t being used to its full potential. However, manufacturing is far from being the only industry with excess capacity at the moment, and these findings indicate that it is still a vital industry in the US.

Eagle Technologies Group is an industry leader in the design and installation of Factory Automation Systems worldwide.


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