At Optimation we design and fabricate many skid systems. These systems are used by manufacturers for a broad variety of applications. Skids can be built as carts, in frames, in shipping containers or trailers. They can be built as prefab production lines units that can be bolted together to form larger systems. Physical layout can be tailored to the complexity, geography and environmental conditions the skid needs to perform in. Some are mounted indoors in factory conditions, others may ultimately be located in the arctic, or on an offshore oil platform. Applications also vary. Some are used for chemical delivery or small scale chemical processing. Others have been used for hydrogen distribution, high pressure test systems, food processing or testing medical devices. Skid systems have the advantage of being built in a shop in controlled conditions and then installed in remote or challenging locations.
November 11-17, 2019 is National Apprenticeship Week. National Apprenticeship Week was established four years ago by the US Department of Labor, and we’re glad to see more formal recognition of starting careers in the skilled trades. Optimation has a strong apprenticeship program that was established twelve years ago and accredited by the New York State Department of Labor. While we may have been ahead of the curve in the recent drive to promote skilled trades, apprenticeships have been around for a very long time.
October 4th is National Manufacturing Day. In the United States, National Manufacturing Day is celebrated every year on the first Friday of October. Companies of all sizes will participate in events for this year’s National Manufacturing Day. There is a great future in manufacturing, and this is a way to recognize and promote it. Over the last few decades there has been a decline in US manufacturing and in New York State the decline has been even greater. Rochester, NY, where Optimation is located, has seen large reductions in employment, driven in part by the massive declines of huge manufacturers like Kodak, Xerox and Bausch and Lomb. In response to this, the both the federal government and the state government have made efforts to encourage and incentivize smaller manufactures in a variety of industries. One main focus of their efforts is workforce development.
Around the world, manufacturers use processing plants to produce a nearly unlimited number of products. In many cases these processes are built in small, modular units either as skids or as modular container-based systems.
Robots are beginning to show up everywhere. Of all the amazing technical developments that are part of Industry 4.0, the fastest growing sector is robotics. By 2020, over $100 billion a year will be invested in robots and this amount is projected to double every two years.
I recently attended the New York State Manufacturing Conference in Troy, hosted by the CATS center at RPI. The focus of the conference was advancing technology and manufacturing in New York. I had the opportunity to be part of the conference and gave a talk titled, “Building on New York’s Manufacturing Legacy in the Fourth Industrial Revolution – Industry 4.0.” Industry 4.0 is an amazing step forward in technology and defines an exciting era for manufacturing which began just this decade.
I recently attended the New York State Manufacturing Conference hosted by the Center for Automation Technologies and Systems (CATS) center at Rensselaer. It was a spirted event attended by participants from a variety of individuals and companies whose primary focus was promoting and advancing technology and manufacturing in New York. Robots and cobots were everywhere. More than 70 organizations were represented from industry, academia, economic development and technology centers.
Every year Deloitte carries out surveys. One of the surveys and trends addresses the state of mergers and acquisition trends. Recently they published their comprehensive look at M&A activity for 2019. Their survey looked at deal trends and predicted deal strength will remain strong in 2019. Some of the reasons cited were tax reform, a more relaxed regulatory climate, and growing cash reserves among corporations and investors.
Unemployment is down, manufacturing is up, and the demand for skilled trades hasn’t been this high for a long time. There is a gap between demand and the available skilled workforce. This is true in many trades. One example is electricians. According to numbers from the National Electrical Contractors Association, 7,000 electricians join the field each year, while at the same time 10,000 retire.
During the past decade, the Internet of Things has been steadily advancing and becoming a part of our lives. We get texts from our cars when the tire pressure is low or suggesting we should stop and buy another gallon of windshield washer fluid. We can turn on the oven or close the garage door at home from our office. These opportunities are supported by small amounts of data and provide simple solutions.