Labor doesn’t add much value. In my experience, it only moved stuff around. The labor jobs went away. Today, I celebrate the process owners like the machinists that can tear down and set up a multi-spindle cam machine in under 2 hours. They own their process and own their craft.
Today, as PMPA’s director of industry research and technology, I compile a survey and report on the wages for the member companies of the Precision Machined Products Association. It covers almost 6 percent of the industry’s employment, according to the U.S. Census. I just reviewed our latest report, and we don’t even have a job title for “laborer.”
Process Owners, Not Laborers
The day of laboring for a living is done. In my career, it was gone by the 1980s. In our industry, the last labor jobs left during the 2009 recession. Today, our shops rely on process owners to operate, set up our equipment, produce parts and inspect them to the highest standards. Today, our shops’ process owners are the go-to men and women that we turn to for understanding when making control plans and corrective action plans, as well as matching machine and process capability to the new jobs we quote.
Here’s what I see when I walk into a PMPA member shop:
- I see esprit de corps every day observing the handoff between purchasing, planning, operations, quality control, shipping and the customer.
- I see our team achieve just-in-time, zero PPM routinely.
- I see our folks are using, viewing, studying, programming and coding using computerized technology, and often doing so in more than three axes.
- I see the pride in our craftsmen and craftswomen when they gage the part, look at the reading, dial an offset into the control, hit start and the next part measures exactly what was required. I share their joy when the parts come back with a green tag and not a red tag.
- I see when they look at the part magnified 50 times or 100 times and the geometric form matches the template perfectly, that tiny smile shows they love their craft and their accomplishments with the technology they use.
- I see our people adding value by assembling components, packaging them securely and getting the correct information in and out of the computer and onto the shipping documents, labeled, then loaded on the correct truck.
The people of the precision machining industry don’t “labor,” they own processes. They master their processes. They are process experts. They use their talent, insight and craft to add value. So automobiles go and stop. So planes fly and land. So people can be healed and reassembled.
I will not be celebrating Labor Day this year. But Process Owners Day- you can bet that I will be appreciative of the craftsmen and women that make our modern lives possible because they own, and have mastered their Craft.
Happy Process Owner Day!
Original Article in Production Machining