Guest post from Tooling Manager, Joe Karpinski
I joined Team Thogus a year and a half ago as the Tooling Manager. My responsibilities range from estimating/quoting, customer service, vendor/supplier relations, design, quality, purchasing, prototyping, production support, machining, coaching/mentoring, and mold maintenance. It’s true – I wear a lot of hats! But that is the beauty of this career field.
With more than twenty-five years of experience in the plastic injection molding manufacturing industry, wearing those many hats, I’ve come to the realization that “you” can determine the success and future from a career in manufacturing.
1. Innovation - Technology
Not trying to date myself but I remember creating drawings on a drafting board in shop class. Then, I was introduced to AutoCAD in the mid-80s, which was a huge advantage, because it opened opportunities for any job field that utilizes CADD (Computer Aided Drafting & Design).
Manufacturing isn’t working in a foundry pouring steel billets like my grandfather did decades ago, and like some people still do to this day. The industry has evolved with innovation and technology. For those that want to make chips on a milling machine or design the next innovative product using virtual reality, the opportunities are there – period.
Innovation goes hand-in-hand with manufacturing and always has. Power-generation systems using steam and water powered manufacturing equipment back in 1784. The assembly line introduction utilized electric back in 1870 to modernize mass production. In 1969, the first (PLC) programmable logic controller (or Robot) was used to automate production process. The future of manufacturing will be driven by (CPS) cyber-physical systems which allow for endless information to be shared in a manufacturing facility inside and outside their physical walls. The manufacturing industry and systems will not only optimize the process, but will analyze and communicate directly to execute tasks.
Going into manufacturing means you will experience innovation and technology. It’s not your grandfather’s factory.
2. Hands On
Most of the people that choose the manufacturing industry as a career path have either; taken something apart, tried to put to back together, sketched something on a piece of paper, grabbed a tool to fix something, visualized a product or process, or created something. Manufacturing reaches pretty much every aspect of our lives daily. So, I struggle when I hear that manufacturing has lost its appeal for the generations to follow because of previous views or perceptions of manufacturing. I will state, however, that the manufacturing industry is, and always be, a hands-on career, regardless of how you want to define hands-on.
The official definition of hands-on is, ‘involving or offering participation rather than theory.’ Is there no theory in manufacturing? Yes there is, but along with it, there are also people that must prove or disprove that theory.
For example: You walk into your garage and pick up a piece of wood. You have a concept in mind or on paper to transform that piece of wood. Then, you survey the garage to find the tools to “shape/transform” that piece of wood. Finally, you perform the task necessary to generate the final product. Yep, you guessed it, that is ‘manufacturing.’
That is the beauty of this industry. You are part of ‘making’.
The manufacturing industry will always need people to support this career field. The world revolves around people making stuff, creating stuff, and providing stuff to all the other people in the world. My best recommendation to those considering the manufacturing industry is: there are multiple paths to follow and you will get out of it what you put into it. The part I most enjoy about my job is delivering the final product and/or service to my internal & external customers.
I highly recommend considering manufacturing as your career destination. You can find resources to help you. I have had the honor to work with Lorain County Community College’s Engineering program. If you are interested in manufacturing but don’t know where to start, check them out! Below is a snapshot from Lorain Community College’s Engineering & Manufacturing Pathway. LCC also offers the RAMP program (Retooling Adults for Manufacturing Programs).