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You are high tech ... tell the rest of America! High-tech. The term has become part and parcel of any American discussion about economics, the future of the country and employment.

It seems to mean nothing but computers and software to some. To others it means modern medicine or space exploration, telescopes, satellites and so on. Yet, much of the most advanced technology is working away every day across the United States in numerous job shops supplying the larger production companies that make cars, planes, and everything else we call modern.

But manufacturing has its own myths after all. One is that the "job shop" is a pretty primitive form of metalworking, all dirt, grease and low skilled labor. Even top managers in some of the bigger outfits believe that, let alone the average teacher, lawyer or newspaper columnist.


What they think is what might have been the case 50 years ago in American small plants. Wouldn't they all be surprised to find out that your company and thousands of other job shops across America are actually home to some of the most advanced and accurate industrial technology available today?

Went South

Wouldn't many of them be surprised indeed to find that what they think is a typical job shop with lots of labor and the lowest of low tech has long ago headed west to the Far East or south across the Rio Grande?

The job shops of the country have become leaders in the application of state-of-the-art machining and metalforming technology, as well as the latest in quality control systems and measurement technologies. Some high-end shops are already investigating the use of measuring devices using tunneling microscope devices so as to measure accuracies in angstroms!

The parts produced in today's job shop are often better in terms of quality levels than the strictest requirements of their huge customers. And, perhaps even more interesting and maybe even more important, the job shops are typically home to the most creative people in manufacturing. They are, in effect, labs for industrial innovation and testing.

Simply put, much of the lower end job shop work (both here and in Japan as we noted a few months ago) has migrated to other emerging economies because of cheap labor and less strict environmental regulations. What remains here is the high tech job shop like yours and those of your competitors. The rest of the country's manufacturing base relies on this job shop supplier network more than ever.

Low-Tech Bottom Feeders

Unfortunately, much of the rest of the country doesn't realize all of this. To most Americans, including some job shop suppliers, the world of the smaller supplier to the "big boys" is a world of low-tech bottom feeders. There are two problems in this myth about the job shops of the country today.

One problem is the low-tech myth keeps young people (and their teachers) from considering a career in a smaller, creative manufacturing outfit. Another problem is the suppliers to the smaller company may not pay as much attention to smaller metalworking companies since they too believe some of that low-tech myth.

Small business, particularly the super high-tech job shop, is essential for American competitiveness in the global industrial marketplace. We often hear economists noting that the real strength of the American economy is its creativity. Much of that is a matter of the smaller company. We also hear much about our educational needs to assure the young and the rest of us of a competent work force in the future.

It would behoove all of us to start educating the rest of our country, those teachers and columnists and lawyers and politicians again, about the central importance of creativity in the high tech job shop world.

The creative work you and they do is too important to remain a secret from the rest of America.

This is my opinion, what's yours?

George Weimer, Contributing Editor
COPYRIGHT 2006 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Weimer, George
Publication:Modern Applications News
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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