American manufacturing has come a long way since the Industrial Revolution

Large-scale manufacturing continues to evolve as technology fuels innovation. These innovations open new avenues through which suppliers, workers, and the surrounding economies can grow and thrive.

In recent decades, North American manufacturing stumbled over policy hurdles to remain competitive on a global scale, but it still serves as a foundation for local economies. In 2020, manufacturing was responsible for 14.5 million jobs in the United States and 1.6 million jobs in Canada.

But manufacturing is more than a labor statistic. The impacts of manufacturing on local economies, global influence, and the general standard of living is hard to measure. From job opportunities to lifestyle staples, manufacturing affects a broad spectrum of industries and individuals.

“In every community we’re in,” says AirBoss President and COO Chris Bitsakakis, “We take great pride in the fact that we’re contributing to people’s quality of life and their standard of living.”

Manufacturing Drives Productivity and Innovation

There is no technological development without manufacturing. The manufacturing sector drives technological innovation and growth, whether that’s chemical processing or mechanization. As a result, improvements in manufacturing often influence countless other industries, companies, and individuals farther down the supply chain.

This is especially true for AirBoss of America. Our rubber compounds and products often go on to join larger manufacturing chains, serving as components in more complex machines and systems. These systems are powered by countless companies and individuals around the world.

Manufacturing is widely recognized as the driving force behind technology-driven productivity growth. Manufacturing makes it possible to produce products at a reduced cost. This, in turn, lends itself to an improved quality of life for the average person.

How manufacturing drives productivity and industry innovation:

  • Learning centers: The manufacturing sector contributes so widely to myriad other industries that it’s considered to be the learning center for capitalism. If something works in the manufacturing sector, it bodes well for industries that rely on transportation equipment, computers, warehouses, and more.
  • Organizational innovation: Productivity growth often stems from organizational improvements that originated in the manufacturing sector. Consider the modern-day fast-food restaurant. Many of the tactics and strategies used behind the scenes to optimize processes are manufacturing techniques. Maximum output for minimal input. The same is true for modern warehouses and large retail chains.
  • Production supply: Companies whose main business is production, assembly, and export rely heavily on their manufacturers. A single company may source dozens or even hundreds of different parts or components from manufacturers all over the globe. These components are then assembled into complex products like automobiles and computers. Many of these companies would have trouble making a profit if it weren’t for the price points that large-scale manufacturing provides.

Try to imagine a world in which things like lightbulbs, automobiles, or televisions were each painstakingly crafted by hand. It would have taken humanity much longer to light their homes, travel to work, and tune in to current events.

How Does Manufacturing Support the Economy?

Let’s boil things down to basic economics. A society needs to increase its wealth and purchasing power to raise the standard of living. The most efficient way to do this is to increase productivity and create new value. While not impossible, this is hard to do in a service-based economy.

Manufacturing, on the other hand, drives economic growth. In addition to the above-listed reasons for productivity and innovation growth, manufacturing is also responsible for:

  • Increased research and development
  • Middle-class job growth
  • Improved supply chain operation
  • Lower per-unit cost
  • And more

Government manufacturing statistics tend to undervalue the sector’s contributions. This is because many statistics measure the value of a final product (like those destined for homes, businesses, or export). What’s often left out of the equation is all the value added to other industry supply chains, community growth, and general quality of life improvements brought on by the manufacturing sector.

For AirBoss, this means supporting local economies not only through job creation but also through community outreach and influence. We’re involved with local charities, work directly with local governments, and have great pride in our contributions we’re able to provide.

In societies or even city and state economies in which manufacturing plays a central role, it’s those manufacturing jobs that create a self-sustaining model of production/consumption. It’s often the people working the manufacturing jobs who then go on to buy the goods and services produced by the manufacturer.

Leveraging Local Manufacturing to Answer Global Challenges

Local manufacturing benefits have far-reaching impacts. For AirBoss, opportunities to leverage local manufacturing facilities to answer global challenges came during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ISO-PODS and Canadian COVID-19 Concerns

The AirBoss ISO-POD is a negative-pressure patient isolation unit designed for patient transport in high-contamination environments. Headquartered in the Toronto area, AirBoss was able to reach out to local officials with a desire to provide more effective transportation methods than those being used to transport patients from nursing homes to hospitals.

As a result, AirBoss donated five ISO-POD units to Toronto Paramedic Services.

“We’re grateful to AirBoss for this donation during the ongoing pandemic” said Gord McEachen, Chief of Toronto Paramedic Services. “If required, these ISO-POD units can be utilized to transport patients infected with any highly contagious disease, including COVID-19, in total isolation while ensuring the safety of our paramedics and other frontline healthcare workers.”

PAPR Systems and the White House Coronavirus Task Force

AirBoss and multiple competitors were contacted by the White House Coronavirus Task Force regarding high-end personal protective equipment (PPE). Our Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) System—used extensively in highly infectious medical environments—fit the bill.

Unfortunately, almost all companies contacted had manufacturing facilities overseas. AirBoss was the only company able to leverage local United States-based manufacturing facilities and production chains to quickly and efficiently provide necessary PPE.

“It became an issue of maybe there is, aside from altruism, a significant payback of being able to live within the community that you serve and manufacture the goods the community needs,” says Bitsakakis.

How Manufacturing Raises the Standard of Living

It’s easy to see how manufacturing contributes to the grand scheme of a global economy. Manufacturing is directly responsible for products and parts that influence countless other industries around the world.

Modern economists believe this manufacturing multiplier effect has a much broader reach than we’d expect.

“Because manufacturing has so many substantial links with so many other sectors throughout the economy, its output stimulates more economic activity across society than any other sector,” said Stephen Gold for Industry Week back in 2014. The sentiment still holds true.

It’s this widespread influence that leads to a higher standard of living. Manufacturing jobs prop up local economies by putting food on tables and money in people’s pockets.

Manufacturing May Change, But It Will Never Die

We’re on the cusp of a global shift toward automation and artificial intelligence. The Brookings Institute estimates that 25% of U.S. jobs are highly exposed to automation. But automation will help manufacturing rather than hurt it.

Manufacturing has long made use of automation processes to improve productivity and fuel innovation. That’s why manufacturing will always be a cornerstone for modern economies.

It’s this endless cycle of automation, innovation, and growth that continues to improve efficiency within the manufacturing sector. Increased efficiency means greater production volumes and lower costs.

Out of our Kitchener, Ontario facility alone, AirBoss ships more than 10 million pounds of rubber every month. This rubber leaves the plant every day as raw materials come in, and it’s this circular production process that keeps contributing to local and global economies.

As we’ve discussed, these kinds of manufacturing repercussions are felt far down the supply chain and beyond. As a result, manufacturing will continue to create opportunities and a higher standard of living for individuals around the world.