We forgot something. In all of our efforts here in the United States in the 15 years or so to make products faster and cheaper, and the outsourcing that came from that, we overlooked a major detail.
Putting aside the economic impact of outsourcing for a later discussion, from an engineering standpoint, design and manufacturing go hand in hand. They drive each other. They need each other. Without design there is nothing to manufacture. Without manufacturing, designs are simple scribbles on paper, or in software, as the world is today.
Truly, this partnership was a tremendous thing to undervalue as the US made decisions, both politically and by corporations, that brought a significant outsourcing of its manufacturing since approximately 2001.
There is evidence, however, that manufacturing is returning to the US. This is in part thanks to reductions of costs at domestic plants and in part due to increased labor costs overseas. But it’s also coming about thanks to engineering, itself, which deserves credit for this revitalization.
Engineers have brought about less expensive and more efficient means of manufacturing, including smarter plants and 3D printing. And its engineers who have found alternative ways to design, be that through the likes of open-source design sharing, improved CAD, or other means.
Truly when we talk about the revitalization of design and manufacturing, it isn’t an either/or. We must look at the two as a joint unit, and we must recognize the engineering behind it.
We aim to support that in every way at Design News, from our media content like the column you are reading now, to our educational content, including our Continuing Education Center courses, to our live events, the largest of which is just around the corner and which gives Design News an annual opportunity to celebrate engineering.
In Anaheim, Calif., each winter, UBM, Design News’ parent company, holds its UBM West event focused on advanced design and manufacturing. Pulling together seven conferences, including Automation Technology Expo (ATX) and Pacific Design & Manufacturing, the event will also feature Design News’ Golden Mousetrap Awards.
At the Golden Mousetrap Awards, we celebrate the innovative people, companies, and technologies in product design and manufacturing. For the 2017 awards to be presented in Anaheim on Feb. 7, 2017, we’ve reconfigured some of the 17 categories spanning automation and control; design tools (hardware and software); electronics and test; and materials and assembly. Entries close this November. To be eligible for entry, all products must be commercially available in the US -- that is able to be ordered or purchased -- between Sept. 1, 2015 and Oct. 1, 2016. Check out the full list of categories and entry details here. And find more information on UBM West here.
I do hope to see you at Anaheim this February, not only at the Golden Mousetrap awards to be celebrated but as an engineer who deserves to continue their own growth through networking and in-person learning opportunities the event will provide.
Until then, know that design and manufacturing is revitalizing. It’s a joint rebirth that we’ll continue to discuss and support here at Design News and, perhaps most importantly, thank engineers for.
What do you think? Feel free to email me at Suzanne.firstname.lastname@example.org.