Entrepreneurship in American manufacturing is recognized annually on National Manufacturing Day (Oct. 4), and there are critical tasks behind the scenes of manufacturing that bulk material handling accomplishes.
Manufacturing Day events include around 1,600 American manufacturers open their doors to inspire and inform youth about careers in manufacturing and engineering during the first Friday of October — a holiday created by The Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, International (FMA) in 2012. It was officially proclaimed in New Jersey that year by then Gov. Chris Cristie and then recognized by a Presidential Proclamation in 2014 by former President Barack Obama.
As AZO supplies systems that makes prominent manufacturers’ processes possible, AZO Inc. General Manager Chuck Kerwin said there are inherent advantages for emerging engineers interested in pursuing the field.
“Manufacturing is a safer, higher-paid alternative to many jobs that don’t require a college education,” Kerwin said. “The hospitality industry, construction and certain healthcare support-type positions — those jobs are either low-paying or, in the case of construction, high-paying but fluctuate with boom-or-bust cycles.”
Kerwin said that working in a manufacturing environment is both economically rewarding and there’s an inherent satisfaction in producing a consumer product.
“If you walk through the grocery store and see a product that you produced, then there’s a certain inherent pride associated with that,” Kerwin said. “You feel like you’ve contributed something that you can take pride in. You’ve given people the opportunity to enjoy your product.”
Any manufacturing plant accomplishes three things, according to Kerwin: collecting the raw materials, processing those raw materials into something new and unique and, lastly, packaging those unique products to send out into the world.
While companies focus on the products themselves and the packaging that attracts consumers, AZO Inc.’s expertise lies in handling the raw ingredients inside the manufacturing plant.
“Knowing the ins and outs of safety regulations that make sure ingredients are clean and pure, making sure the recipe is followed and consistent from day-to-day, week-to-week, plant-to-plant — that’s what AZO does,” Kerwin said.
AZO’s work covers many corners of manufacturing, including steel fabrication. David High has worked in this specific industry for 40 years and is the domestic fabrication specialist at AZO Inc.
“When I came here, I really wanted to learn, and I've learned quite a bit,” High said. “We will design an automated system that will store your raw ingredients, transport your raw ingredients, mix your raw ingredients — do everything possible to make your product and put it out the door. We'll take it from raw materials to product.”
Before joining the team of engineers at AZO Inc., High worked in his father’s steel fabrication company and was responsible for bringing computer technology to the fold there for bookkeeping and pattern development purposes.
“If young people are interested in the field, they need to be very mechanically inclined,” High said. “They need to like to build things, they need to like to put their hands on things and build. You need to enjoy that. Now, you also need to learn how to use computers — big time. It's all going that way.”
The most amazing change to manufacturing High has seen in the last decade is the introduction of 3D Autocad inventor software. He also cites CNC (computer numeric control) as a major advancement for steel fabrication specifically. Hands-on experience, in addition to having a “logistic mind,” will be helpful for any future-engineers, according to High.
“If you're wanting to go into the engineering trade, I would try to find summer jobs and jobs in the field you’re looking to go into,” he said. “That will give you hands-on knowledge of the types of machinery you’ll be working with and what employers will be looking for.”
High says the world will always need new engineers, and thinking “outside the box” while remaining “exact” is an ideal combination of traits.
“We’re always going to be building things, and there's always going to be new discoveries,” High said. “If you have that kind of mind that has both of those qualities of art and engineering — if you have the ability to combine those kinds of thoughts, you have the ability to change the world in a lot of different ways.”
For any problems in ingredient automation, material flow or bulk bag unloader systems that require solutions, be sure to browse the AZO blog. Check out our configurator for bulk bag handling and bulk bag discharge requirements, or contact our sales team if you have any questions.