The manufacturing sector in the Miami Valley is recovering after a long decline, but this isn’t your father’s factory.
Automation and technology have displaced some workers while boosting overall productivity. More highly skilled workers are needed to operate, manage and maintain the high-tech equipment that is used in today’s manufacturing processes.
Here are five things you need to know about the manufacturing industry in the Gem City:
1. MAJOR ECONOMIC DRIVER Manufacturing companies remain a strong component in the Dayton region economy, making up $16.4 billion — nearly one-quarter — of the $76 billion Gross Regional Product, according to data from Emsi, a labor market analytics company, provided by the Dayton Development Coalition.
2. TECHNOLOGY Automation and technology have displaced some workers while boosting overall productivity. More highly skilled workers are needed to operate, manage and maintain the high-tech equipment that is used in today’s manufacturing processes.
3. SKILLED WORKERS The two manufacturing companies on our largest employers list — Honda and Crown — are both hiring. But to get the right workers now and in the future, both are partnering with educators from middle and high school, vocational schools and colleges.
Randy Niekamp, vice president of human resources at Crown, which manufacturers forklifts and other lift trucks, said the current labor market is “very competitive” and a far cry from the Great Recession a decade ago, when the company cut pay, laid off workers and froze benefits.
4. BENEFITING FROM A STRONG ECONOMY Materials handling “is very much buoyed by a strong economy” said Tom Jackson, a Philadelphia-based regional economist at IHS Markit, an information and insight company. “It’s not just manufacturing. It’s all the different distribution (companies). I know that’s been going wild in Ohio. Anywhere they’re moving stuff around you need things like forklifts to move it.”
5. AUTO MANUFACTURING CHANGES For the auto industry, that means coming up with ways to improve fuel economy through electrification — even though electric vehicles make up just 0.8 percent of vehicles registered in the U.S., said Stephanie Brinley, principal analyst at IHS Markit in Southfield, Mich.
Honda has worked with General Motors on fuel cell technology — which creates vehicle electrification using a chemical process — and Brinley said their first fuel cell stack will go into vehicles on the road by 2020.