Manufacturing is a broad term that often conjures up visions of the soulless production line of the twentieth century. Production line jobs certainly still exist but the sector has a diverse range of roles for people with extremely diverse skill sets.
What is manufacturing?
Manufacturing is generally considered to be the processing of raw materials and/or parts and components manufactured elsewhere into a finished product. When we refer to manufacturing we are normally talking about large-scale factory-based production, rather than cottage industries. It is often divided into 3 types of production; Made-to-stock (MTS), made-to-order (MTO) and made-to-assemble (MTA). Made to stock is involves predicting demand and producing sufficient quantities. Made-to-order is production for the specific customer, more common in B2B manufacturing but also in the luxury consumer goods, for example bespoke vehicles. Made-to-assemble is hybrid where component parts are manufactured and ready to be assembled when orders come through.
What sectors are classified as manufacturing?
Lots of people associate think of mechanical processes, perhaps the automotive industry or white goods, but manufacturing covers a wide range of businesses. Other sectors include, but are not limited to FMCG (Fast moving consumer goods), pharmaceuticals, electronics, chemicals, furniture, clothing, medical equipment, machinery… the list is almost endless. Of course the processes and practicalities of producing such diverse goods are very different and roles in manufacturing are broad. What they have in common is the necessity for regulated processes, quality control, ongoing research and development and the need to innovate. Processes are developing fast and companies that are slow to take up technology will fall behind.
What types of jobs are there in manufacturing?
There are a vast range of jobs available from PhD researchers to apprentice machine operators. If you consider the stages of manufacturing a project you can identify the types of roles within each stage. First of all there is the concept stage where the product is conceived. This is likely to involve a design engineer or perhaps a scientist or even an entrepreneur. Then research is conducted into the feasibility of the idea which may involve making prototypes, conducting market research, putting in place costings. Once the product has been finalised it reaches the manufacturing stage. This will involve a production manager who oversees the technicians, machine operators, technologists, engineers etc. Of course there are continuing roles for the researchers monitoring the product. Quality controllers ensure the standards are met. There are also roles in manufacturing that are relatively recent. Software developers are playing more and more crucial roles in the modern factory.
Forget your assumptions. It’s an exciting, forward looking environment if you choose the right company and the future is not as bleak as you may think. Manufacturing in the UK changed and it’s here to stay.