Why we built FactoryoftheFuture.org
The concept for FactoryoftheFuture.org sprung out of equal parts inspiration and frustration — inspiration from the resurgence and re-shoring initiatives in the U.S. by major original equipment manufacturer companies, and frustration over the perceived impending labor shortage and potential loss of vast wells of manufacturing wisdom due to retirement.
Despite searching many websites we could only find groups and projects tightly focused upon one aspect of manufacturing (i.e. continuous improvement, a specific field of engineering) or one sector, such as food and beverages or aerospace. While these are great efforts individually, the movement to a new way of “making things” that addresses emerging opportunities and current disconnects is a larger scope than most sites can fully develop. True collaboration between departments within a company, and between different manufacturing sectors, did not appear to be represented.
There was no central place that invites everyone in to solve the issues facing manufacturing and the making of things.
If you are an engineer, you can join the Society for Manufacturing Engineers, or the Plastics engineers Society, or the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, but what if you’re not an Engineer? LinkedIn groups and trade associations are job-function-specific and then there are technology specific sites, but no place for everyone to come together.
FactoryoftheFuture.org is the ONLY, all-inclusive online community for manufacturing.
We fill the 3 huge gaps facing manufacturing today:
1) Skills Gap:
In the next 15 years, 2.7 million people in manufacturing will be retiring without adequately trained replacements. Wage pressure overseas is decreasing the advantage of off-shoring, so factories are moving back to the USA but there is not enough skilled labor to fill demand.
2) Technology Gap:
The average age of machinery on the shop floor is the oldest its been since 1936. Slow adoption of the Industrial Internet of Things coupled with incoming new hires being ultra-savvy tech users by comparison is creating friction on the floor.
3) Maker Gap:
There are over 350,000 “makers” in the US, yet most have no idea where to go, and who to turn to for taking their great ideas out of their garage and into a production process for manufacturing it at large scale.
All of these gaps are stifling innovation!
A collaboration platform for manufacturers, makers and students to transfer knowledge and promote innovation – like an online mastermind group – FactoryoftheFuture.org
- We do not represent just one specialized profession or industry.
- We are pro-regionalism, not anti-trade, and technology agnostic.
- .org because we are going to set this up as a benefit corporation.
We help factories:
- collaborate and share best practices
- transition to a cleaner more efficient way of doing business
- bridge the information gap
- find skilled people
So, a couple of years ago, the two of us had the seemingly “simple and rational” thought to undertake this task ourselves. A “build it and they will come” optimism pervaded the early planning and development. Actually figuring out how to make it pay its own way was an afterthought.
We did market research which confirmed frustration with the status quo, but how do you gauge demand for something no one has seen yet? So we started bootstrapping — we gave up vacations, weekends and social time, (our deepest apologies to friends and family, and gratitude for your understanding and support,) to work – building content, structure, and hopefully beauty into this new platform.
We believe there is enough common ground, good faith, and desire for opportunity that people within manufacturing will come together to help shape what the “making of things” should look like over the next fifty years, and share that on FactoryoftheFuture.org.
And we look forward to working with you!