The manufacturing industry has experienced impressive productivity gains over the years, and they have largely been due to technological and organizational improvements. By implementing better mechanization and even robotics along assembly lines, firms have successfully unlocked tremendous potential for efficiency — not to mention better return on investment.
This is happening all across the country, and is contributing to industry growth trends. For example, the Huntsville Times reports that manufacturers in Alabama have used technology to improve output without needing additional workers. Ten years ago, firms in the state needed 15 percent of the workforce to contribute 18 percent of the state's gross domestic product. Now, they only require 13 percent of workers.
"Labor productivity has improved," Ahmad Ijaz, Associate Director and Director of Economic Forecasting at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, told the news source. "It's just a fact we're producing more with fewer workers. We're using more automation, especially more robots."
But while almost everyone in the industry — and many people outside of it — are aware of the benefits that technology provides, fewer know about the human element that has led to a successful manufacturing rebirth in the U.S.
At Daman, we have experienced this first-hand. Our focus on continuous improvement and hiring the best people has positioned us as a leader in the standard and custom manifold manufacturing industry for more than 30 years. It is our people, leveraging the latest technology, that allows us to best serve our customers.
Continuous improvement is part of our DNA
We have been abiding by the concept of lean manufacturing and continuous improvement at Daman since 1997. In the intervening years, we have learned some very important lessons.
Here's one of them: No matter how advanced a machine is, it won't benefit your company unless you have highly-trained, competent people working it.
This is why we don't just hire ordinary machinists. We seek out employees who demonstrate a strong work ethic, a willingness to learn and the ability to teach others. This allows us to pursue continuous improvement and focus on eliminating waste and increasing efficiency.
As noted by a recent article on Occupational Health & Safety Online, the principle of continuous improvement helps employees grow professionally, thanks to the new skills they acquire.
"We needed to learn from the people actually doing the work and get their input on opportunities for improvement," Tan Huan, section planning manager at the Jabil Shanghai manufacturing plant, told the news source. "The best way to accomplish this was by speaking with them directly and allowing employees from all aspects of the process to play a part in this project."
Three years ago we instituted the Creative Team here at Daman. This is a cross-functional team with various leaders who discover new solutions to solve customer problems utilizing a proven stage gate process. Rather than engage in traditional research and development that is controlled by marketing and sales teams —and waste time and energy in the process — we encourage our team to build new ideas and identify the resources necessary to carry them out.
Our emphasis on continuous improvement makes us more efficient and productive, and is proof that even the best machinery is limited without good people at the helm.