Top 7 Reasons I love Manufacturing Operations!

By Cara Winther
20 Aug 20

What is Manufacturing Operations (the people) doing for you? That is such a great question! When you think about it, there is very little they cannot, will not, and do not do for you. With the exception of these five major industries, Agriculture, Real Estate, Government (both State and Local), Healthcare, Finance & Insurance, Manufacturing Operations is like royalty in the United States. 

According to the most recent numbers available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Manufacturing Operations in the United States alone employs between 12.85 Million and 15 Million people. That translates to roughly 8.5% of the total available workforce in the U.S. And, get this, Manufacturing Operations pays 12% more on average than other jobs. Those are just the facts.

Before we go on, I want to be very clear and make sure we're on the same page here. This is not the history of Manufacturing Operations Management. I have nothing against Managers and Management. "Some of my best friends are managers and management." Yes, really. In the interest of full disclosure, I spent many years being and doing both. I was very fortunate to have some wonderful mentors along the way. My personal journey allowed me to combine my passion for Manufacturing Operations with my natural inclination to be a tad bossy, I mean, a highly organized team player.

When I entered the Wonderful World of Manufacturing Operations, I had never even seen the inside of anything that could remotely be described as a factory. I could tell you that I didn't know the difference between a hammer and a screwdriver, but apparently I am not really that concerned with full disclosure. Suffice to say, I had no idea how fascinating Manufacturing Operations (the process) was! How satisfying to build something, to be able to point to it at the end of the day and say, "I did that!" Sometimes I had to say it pretty loudly to convince the people who knew about the whole hammer and screwdriver thing. 

The 7 main things I love about Manufacturing Operations: 

  1. The transformation of raw materials 
  2. Learning how things go together 
  3. Seeing the bigger picture 
  4. Improving (doing it bigger [or smaller], faster, better) 
  5. Empowering people 
  6. Sharing the love 
  7. Trail and map 

The Transformation of Raw Materials 

There is something quite extraordinary about taking dissimilar, dare I say ordinary, elements and transforming them into real stuff. You can cut them, shape them, press or mold them, weld, solder, wire, stretch them. You name it. The materials that become products can be almost anything you can imagine. The people and processes working together to render this magic are Manufacturing Operations. It's not just machines and materials, drawings and schematics. It's people. At L2L, we understand that transformation process. We never forget how critical people are to all of it. We get it. 

Learning How Things Go Together 

Much like spending time in a kitchen, watching a gifted chef, or poring over a cookbook, learning how everything comes together can be just as challenging and every bit as engrossing as consuming the fruits of your labor. You know the expression, "You can't have your cake and eat it, too."? Well, I beg to differ. You can make your cake, you can eat your cake, and then you can make another cake once you learn how things come together. That's the beauty of Manufacturing Operations: learn how things come together and you're halfway there. L2L helps you organize and analyze how those things go together, and makes it all immediately accessible. Have I made you hungry for more? Just wait till you see what's coming! 

Seeing the BIG picture 

I know many of my readers like to savor my blogs after a good meal, and sometimes even while eating. You know, to share all this great knowledge with their loved ones. Paying it forward for the next generation, so to speak. Let's think about meal time. And while we're at it, let's think about how that delicious food magically appears on your plate. Not to mention the plate itself, the silverware, the grill where it may have been prepared, even the table and chairs. At one time, our options for all of these items were pretty limited. Early humans didn't have time to worry about all the details. Stalk it, slay it, cook it (hopefully), eat it. Again, the entire process has many similarities to Manufacturing Operations. Someone involved in Manufacturing Operations processed those raw food elements into something we're about to eat. Someone else fabricated the table and chairs where we are about to enjoy our meal. Someone else assembled that refrigerator while another someone in a different place wired or plumbed that oven. 

Improving 

Anyone who wants to be in Manufacturing Operations for the long run quickly grasps the need to Improve and keep on Improving. If it's manufactured, and to some extent, practically everything is, then you're in a competitive business. One of the secrets to being successful is the ability to adapt and change, all in the pursuit of Improving. Whether that means producing it bigger, smaller, faster, or better, continuously improving is key to survival. One of my wise mentors once said, "Not one of us does anything no one else can do." Chew on that for a second. Yeah, I know. No one ever developed an over-inflated ego from this mentor. However, the truth of that statement is undeniable. If we are not always striving to improve, we're holding still. Or worse yet, we're going backwards. There is nothing on the face of the Earth that has improved as far as possible. 

Empowering People 

No, that is not a bunch of baloney or even a bunch of bologna. At L2L, we know the power of Empowering People. (You know I hate using power and empowering in the same sentence. It's just so important, no other word will do.) We live and breathe it every day at Leading2Lean. There is nothing mindless about the people or processes in Manufacturing Operations. Even most of your cake-eating carpet dwellers know that deep in their hearts. The people building the product are invaluable expert resources. Almost everyone truly wants to do a good job, so sometimes we need to get out of their way and let them do just that. Valuing your work force as individuals is not expensive. Sincerity, concern, respect, acknowledgement, and genuine appreciation are all free. Not valuing your associates will be your costliest mistake. Remember that statement about, "No one does anything someone else can't do."? That applies to businesses, too. An organization whose culture truly values and empowers their employees at all levels will reap what they have sown a thousand fold. 

Sharing the Love 

Manufacturing Operations can hardly be confused with Woodstock. You Millennials may have to Google that reference. When I say, "Sharing the Love", I mean it in the purest form of the word. I truly love Manufacturing and Operations, not surgeries, of course, but every element that goes into a well oiled system. It's fascinating! If you were not aware of that previously, you're welcome. 

Sharing a love for Manufacturing Operations is a way of paying it forward, passing it along to future generations. Some of those generations may be working alongside you right now. At L2L, we totally get that. You would be shocked how many folks at L2L grew up in Manufacturing. We love it and our enthusiasm is contagious. Just like you share your time and wisdom about things you're passionate about. Whether that means golf, fishing, the greatest ribs ever, or how making your buddy's favorite widget gizmo even better forever changed your outlook on the meaning of life. 

Trail and Map 

Wouldn't you just love it if someone left crumbs for you to follow from the yummiest cookies you've ever tasted? I know! Me, too! At the risk of cementing my reputation as a Manufacturing nerd (Junkie is such a harsh term), my eyes were opened in a way I had never imagined before. So not only did I follow the trails blazed for me by my predecessors, I left clues and hidden treasures for others to find. My Manufacturing Operations 'Map' was proudly displayed, literally so: on more than one occasion, I hung world maps so associates and colleagues could see where our customers were located and the final destination of the products we built. Transparency, visibility, objectives, visual aids. Sound familiar? It should: all of these are also targets of Leading2Lean. Show and tell, then show and tell some more. 

Now that you understand my love for Manufacturing Operations, what are you waiting for? Don't be shy. Call L2L and let's talk about optimizing your operations. Share the love. 

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