What Is Manufacturing and Why Is It Important?

October 4, 2019
For Manufacturing Day, we take a look at what manufacturing is, why it is important and how it works at companies like McLanahan Corporation.

The first Friday of every October is recognized as National Manufacturing Day.

National Manufacturing Day was created in 2012 to educate students, parents, community leaders and teachers about manufacturing.  

What is manufacturing?

Manufacturing is the production of goods from raw materials on a large scale using labor, tools and processes. It begins with a design and follows a plan to bring that design from a drawing on paper to a physical product. It requires both people and machines to accomplish these goals. 

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Manufacturing careers

National Manufacturing Day also serves to inspire the next generation of manufacturers by highlighting the importance of manufacturing and drawing attention to the numerous careers in the industry.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the manufacturing sector is comprised of quite a few subsectors, which are further broken down into groups. Some of these subsectors include:

  • Machinery manufacturing
  • Petroleum and coal products manufacturing
  • Food manufacturing
  • Plastics and rubber products manufacturing
  • Apparel manufacturing

In the machinery manufacturing sector, the types of jobs available can include:

  • Assemblers and fabricators
  • Welders
  • Paint technicians
  • CNC machine operators
  • Mechanical engineers
  • CAD draftsman
  • Quality inspectors
  • Safety managers
  • Cost estimators
  • Laborers
  • Material handlers
  • Production managers
  • Pattern makers
  • 3-D printers 

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To provide some insight into the industry, we asked McLanahan Executive Vice President of Manufacturing and Supply John Rabel and McLanahan Manufacturing Managers Randy Hatch and Brenda Wilt some common questions about manufacturing.

Why is manufacturing important? Why does it matter?

Brenda Wilt, Manufacturing Manager: “Manufacturing is important for survival and evaluation of the economy. The world and technologies are always pushing forward and so is manufacturing to stay up with the times to be a competitor in the market.”

Randy Hatch, Manufacturing Manager: “This country is built on manufacturing; it is the backbone of America. Over the years, we have seen less and less people pursuing manufacturing careers, but these jobs are essential for the continued production of goods.” 

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How does manufacturing work?

BW: “Manufacturing takes an idea and makes it come to life. It uses raw materials to create a functional, usable product. Manufacturing works as a team in a facility for everything to come together and be successful. One always strives to have the best product in the market at the most competitive price.”

How does manufacturing work at a company like McLanahan?

John Rabel, EVP Manufacturing and Supply: “At McLanahan Corporation, we celebrate our manufacturing abilities. We are highly vertically integrated, as we have our own foundry. Our structure allows us to be nimble for our customers. We can build our own patterns and pour a part in our own foundry. We also have our own plate shop where we can burn, bend and cut steel as needed. From there, we can move raw castings or profiled plate material to our machine shop for high-precision finishing. Our fabrication area has highly trained, American Welding Society certified welders and state-of-the-art equipment. Our shop has extensive overhead lifting capacity, which allows us to take on specialized projects that others cannot handle. We also have a state-of-the-art blast and paint facility. Our teams and facilities are strategically located to serve our customers and maximize our skill set.” 

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How has manufacturing changed since you started in the industry?

RH: “I started in the industry in the ‘80s. In 1987, ISO published its first quality management standards with the ISO 9000 family. These guidelines help companies and organizations ensure their products and services are consistently meeting their customers’ requirements. Today, companies and organizations have the option of becoming certified in ISO 9001:2015, which is based on quality management principles and ensures products and services are meeting customer and regulatory requirements. The 1990s brought about continuous improvement. Based on “kaizen,” a Sino-Japanese word meaning “change for the better,” this is a strategy where all employees work together to constantly improve the production process. The early 2000s saw a big push for employee and environmental safety. Now, manufacturing seeks to improve processes while decreasing cost. Automation is also becoming more prevalent as technology advances, which brings about new manufacturing career options.”   

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Manufacturing today

Manufacturing has come quite a long way since pre-Revolutionary War times when it was limited to skilled artisans working their craft for the needs of their local community. Innovations in the late 1700s (like the first automatic flour mill and the first factory) and the Industrial Revolution sparked a change in how we create goods. Even today, with advancements in technology, manufacturing continues to change.

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the importance of manufacturing in our lives.

Tags: Manufacturing