Manufacturing Today is a Whole Different Ballgame

If you look at advanced manufacturing processes today, they actually require a much higher level of skill and sophistication in your workforce than I think many of us realize.

A lot of us think of manufacturing as putting tops on bottoms, assembling widgets.  We tend not to think about it as knowledge work.  While it is true that a lot of manufacturing, especially things like the sewing of garments or the assembly of electronics products is very routine and very modular, if you look at advanced manufacturing processes today, they actually require a much higher level of skill and sophistication in your workforce than I think many of us realize.  Let’s look at the manufacturer of genomics based drugs, protein based drugs. 


The scale up of making a few milligrams in the lab to producing a one year supply for the world’s population is a very difficult problem.  That requires sophistication in your workforce.  It’s the commercialization of those types of drugs, the scale up, the production.  Those require sophisticated scientific understanding. 

A lot of other types of production work require the use of advanced tools.  If you go into a factory today you’ll see workers who have to use computer skills. You’ll see people who do scientific experiments on production lines to improve the performance of their processes.  That type of work is really knowledge work.  It’s not our conventional view of what goes on inside a factory.

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why the ocean you know and love won’t exist in 50 years

Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?

Videos
  • Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
  • The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
  • If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
Keep reading Show less
Image source: Topical Press Agency / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Though we know today that his policies eventually ended the Great Depression, FDR's election was seen as disastrous by some.
  • A group of wealthy bankers decided to take things into their own hands; they plotted a coup against FDR, hoping to install a fascist dictator in its stead.
  • Ultimately, the coup was brought to light by General Smedley Butler and squashed before it could get off the ground.
Keep reading Show less

Health care: Information tech must catch up to medical marvels

Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.

Photo: Tom Werner / Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
  • Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
  • As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
Keep reading Show less