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Do you think that a career in production is worthwhile with all of the automation that is coming into the industry?

My name is Nick I am eighteen and I am looking into manufacturing jobs. #manufacturing #career-options #careers


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Veen’s Answer

Hi Nick,
Great question. I see you are also in Ohio, I'm based in Cincinnati. In Ohio at least, manufacturing, production, and fabrication are still very worthwhile and rewarding careers. Amazon has a hub in Florence, KY and many satellite warehouses & fulfillment centers around Cincinnati. Although I've heard a lot of central Ohio was hit by automotive companies closing their manufacturing plants, but other sectors also need skilled production personnell. This includes the cannabis, THC, and hemp industries, which are all previously unexplored in our state, and could lead to very lucrative and stable careers that may not get shipped overseas, because of US grading and restrictions. Hemp itself hasn't been legal to grow or fabricate with for nearly a century, but now Levi's is blending it into their denim! (https://cutt.ly/9gQMtfQ)
Many jobs are being created to support the social and economic shifts to sustainable and regenerative jobs, that not only positively impact the company and customer, but also the community these places do business. This is a talk by the CEO of Chobani about how they impacted the city where they first started producing yogurt in NY (https://cutt.ly/7gQMmMs). My advice to you is to not look at who is here, established, and promising a lot for a little now; You're still a young person that is searching for your future. Instead think about what industries you're interested in, what companies sound like they're in it for the long haul and need trustworthy people to help them build, and what positions and jobs you could see yourself doing and feeling fulfilled every evening when you get home. Good luck with your search!

Veen recommends the following next steps:

Consider applying for apprenticeships after you graduate, a good place to start is: https://apprentice.ohio.gov/
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There are a lot of jobs that are moving to sustainable and green industry in Ohio, which is an up-and-coming industry: https://usgreentechnology.com/ohio-green-manufacturing-jobs/
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Research companies around you that are less than 100 employees and see how their customers like them and how well their financial reports are.
Saved!

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Riley’s Answer

Of course. That is a common misconception that automation will take over the whole plant. First off, the automation has to be designed which is a difficult task and involves large teams to build out. There is also supervision of production processes that have to happen whether they are manual or automated. There are also repair that need to be done to automation equipment that has to be done manually. And finally, many plants still heavily rely on manual labor to fulfill their needs as the tasks at hand can be very difficult to automate.

Also, don't fear automation. As automation is applied more and more in the future, focus your career on working with automation. A strong background in automation will make you a valuable asset to any manufacturing location in the future. Automation is just a tool for engineers to use to make the safest and most efficient processes.

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Tammie’s Answer

Hi Nick, Veen has provided some fantastic advice for your consideration of a career in manufacturing. I might add in response to whether it is worthwhile considering all of the automation that is being implemented within the various fields of manufacturing. I can tell you absolutely it is worthwhile. It takes as much effort and workforce as you see in a manual process to learn new automated systems, to configure them in a manner fit for your companies intended use, to assure it is installed, operates, and performs in compliance with your company's requirements as well as regulating bodies' requirements, maintaining the systems, operating the systems.

Automation is not here to replace you as a new member of the workforce. It is here to improve various aspects of the manufacturing process. It improves your companies speed and allows setup that will repeatedly produce to precise standards set by the humans who put that equipment in place.

It is fascinating to learn new systems! Feel free to research some options out there.

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Stephen’s Answer

To stay completive with a part or product cost must be removed and quality maintained or improved. This need drives innovation and improvement of the manufacturing process. In some cases the solution is more automation. There are some tasks that can be done by people, say using a hand tool or a single station machine that are repetitive and might introduce some amount of variation in the part. This might generate waste which adds cost.

To automate parts of a process you must purchase capital equipment, configure it for the parts being made by the process and monitor the process to ensure quality. These steps all add to the fixed costs that must be included in the price of the part or product you sell to the customer. Often a change in the design of the part or the need to produce a variety of parts require reconfiguration of the automation. This will introduce disruptions in the output and add waste in terms of unproductive time.

A skilled person often adapts to these conditions with a possible setup change for the next part. With the correct process configuration this can be done with minimal interruptions to the flow of parts.

When looking at careers or jobs in manufacturing you need to consider if the number of jobs is in decline where you want to work. Is the automation of the task the reason for the decline, if so what are the new jobs have been created by this change in the manufacturing process? It is my experience it is non-skilled respective tasks or task that are hazards to people are where automation if often the best choice. Even in these cases the cost of automation will require enough product volume to offset the cost of the automation.

Your question is about automation for a manufacturing job. I would suggest that automation is going to play a larger role in the reduction or change in many non-manufacturing jobs. Advances in computer software and reductions in the cost of computer hardware are creating an opportunity to replace people in task that are now consider information based jobs.

Let me suggest that looking at the future of any job or set of skills is something you need to do. That being said, you need to also consider that most of the skills you develop will apply to a variety of jobs.

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Adam’s Answer

Manufacturing is a great industry to build your career and gain exposure to an array of unique skills. With a high school diploma you can begin in operations/production usually as an operator of some facet depending on what unit processes the company uses. You're normally paired with a skilled operator to learn and train from on the day to day duties and responsibilities. New automations are implemented to help boost the company's output which in turn increases profit margins that are fed back into the company, and inevitably, into your pocket with pay raises, lower benefit rates, higher 401k matches, and other incentives.

In regards to job security, no one is absolved from being let go or pushed out due to upper management streamlining, cost cutting on low performing areas/departments, or economic distress in particular fields. Employment instability generally applies to temporary contract workers that are easily disposable due to the nature of tasks they're assigned. Most of the time coming into manufacturing roles with little to no previous experience places you as a temp (contracted) worker for 3-6 months. After that period you're most often hired into the company as an employee where you're more viable asset to daily output expectations. The contracted time period is basically an assessment of your work ethic, punctuality, skillset, dependability, and applicable affinities to maintenance/equipment handling/leading/etc. A key tip in any role in manufacturing operations is to become a subject matter expert on the machinery you work with and overall area(s) you're assigned to. Even with new automations that are installed, skills gained from old equipment no longer used are transferrable to updated automations and technology. Engineers and maintenance techs utilize key operators to help mitigate issues by implementing continuous improvement designs through process controls. Also operators work closely with engineers to aid in formula changes and how that impacts machinery, monitor scaled up product development tests, and many other cross-departmental activities.

Another area of work to begin you're career in manufacturing is being a quality control specialist or lab technician/assistant. These roles play a part in ensuring product consistency by actively conducting sample collection to test and reference against standards while only requiring a HS diploma in most spaces. If you have a liking for chemistry/sciences, starting out as a lab technician or compounding operator would be most applicable. Quality specialists work along side operators by collecting samples to test for data analytics against established procedures. Any area you start within manufacturing is an opportunity to build a foundation of skills that you can build upon throughout your tenure with a company and overall career. So it's definitely a worthwhile industry to be apart of with many perks for the ambitious and driven. Many managers and experts have started out as temporary line workers/operators and worked their way up through the ranks of a company by taking advantage of the opportunities available.

Suggestions:
1) Assess your class subject interests in sciences or any trade skills you may have. Then search for entry level or contracted laboratory, operator, or quality roles within job boards and company career pages.
2) If you're open to pursuing more education for a bit, look into getting an associates at a community college in sciences, or attend a trade school to further condition your skills of interest.
3) If going the college route, pursue a degree in an engineering field of interest (Industrial/Systems, Chemical, Mechanical, Packaging, Material Science, Nuclear engineering). Chemistry, environmental, microbiology, and computer science are fields pertinent to manufacturing as well.

New technologies are always going to be considered and implemented but shouldn't be viewed as a threat or replacement of labor personnel but rather as an enhancement. The key is to be a sponge and open to learning so that when new installments come down the pipeline you can take what you know and apply it while aligning to new processes.

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Madison’s Answer

Hi Nick! Absolutely Production and Manufacturing are careers that you should pursue. Our company (Catalent Pharma Solutions) has over 4,000 employees that specialize in our production and manufacturing suites. We hire entry-level individuals all the way through Senior Leadership who make well into a 6 figure salary. Production and Manufacturing is an extremely relatable career with transferable skills that can apply to hundreds of different companies/organizations. Check out our careers page (https://www.catalent.com/careers/) and type in production or manufacturing. As of today, we have almost 1,000 relatable open positions!

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