Rhode Island Manufacturing

Manufacturing has new look in R.I.

She used the auto industry as an example, pointing out that in the early years of the last century Henry Ford manufactured Model-T’s that were all the same. The consumer today demands a choice in models, colors and a host of other features when buying a car. “Manufacturers must be able to change processes very easily and very quickly,” she said, to meet constantly changing consumer demands.

The closing of an old-fashioned assembly-line, low-wage factory always makes headlines, contributing to the image of the industry as one with a bleak future, Taito noted, while advanced manufacturers who steadily grow and add three or four jobs a year win no notice. “But that’s real growth, sustained growth,” she said of the latter.

Grove said RIMES has promoted the advantages of the lean initiative to Rhode Island manufacturers for about 10 years. “When you adopt lean manufacturing, it becomes the process of the whole shop and, by necessity, employees have to be more of a team than in the past,” he said. On-the-job training is routine at Pilgrim, according to Grove.

Still, the industry’s transition has not been painless. The number of manufacturing jobs in the state has declined steadily. In 2002, there were 64,796 people employed in manufacturing in Rhode Island and, 30 years ago in 1978, there were 134,654, according to figures from the R.I. Department of Labor and Training.

Yet another illustration of what I have been saying for years. USA manufacturing continues to grow and USA manufacturing jobs continue to shrink (as do worldwide manufacturing jobs). And as I have been saying for years, China manufacturing output continues to grow very quickly and China manufacturing jobs continue to shrink (China lost 7 times as many manufacturing jobs as the USA from 1995-2002).

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