Sign Up For Updates

Manufacturing is the engine that made America prosperous.

Modern manufacturing will play a pivotal role in our long-term economic vitality.

Welcome to

Careers & Workforce

BioPharmaceuticals: Improving Patients’ Quality of Life

  • December 21, 2013

When one thinks about the global economy, the biopharmaceutical industry may come to mind as one of the industries in which the U.S. is an unquestioned global leader. That assertion is, in fact, true. Of the 5,400 medical compounds under development worldwide, about 3,400 of them are being developed here, according to PhRMA.

More than 810,000 people work in the U.S. biopharma industry. Through their efforts, millions of patients enjoy healthier, more productive and fulfilling lives, with hope for a brighter future. Encouragingly, the mortality rate for heart disease, HIV/AIDS, childhood cancer and a host of other conditions have improved, with medications playing a key role.

R&D lies at the heart of that progress. Members of PhRMA invest about $48 billion per year in R&D, up from $8.4 billion as recently as 1990. One-fifth of all private-sector R&D in the U.S. is conducted by biopharma companies, according to the National Science Foundation, more than any other single industry.

The average cost of developing a new drug (including the cost of failures) is about $1.2 billion, a process that often takes 10 to 15 years. For every compound that ultimately receives Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, typically five to ten thousand other compounds will have been considered.

In 2012, the FDA approved 43 new drugs, the most in 15 years. These drugs treat such conditions as skin cancer, leukemia, cystic fibrosis, respiratory distress syndrome, and tuberculosis, among others. Thirteen of the approvals were for orphan drugs, which treat rare diseases.

Once a drug is reviewed by FDA scientists and approved, it can be introduced, manufactured, and marketed. Manufacturing facilities must be designed, constructed, and maintained to the highest standards, as required by the FDA.

Many physicians, patients and policy advocates are continuing to urge the FDA to streamline the approval process further, as some drugs are now introduced first in Europe, where regulatory hurdles are perceived as less time-consuming.

While improved patient outcomes lies at the heart of this Great Manufacturing Story, the industry’s economic impact is part of the story, as well. Jobs in the industry, ranging from Ph.D. scientists to lab technicians to marketing representatives, pay about twice the national average. Those 810,000 employees, in turn, generate economic activity in their own communities, supporting a total of 3.4 million jobs, according to PhRMA. Battelle estimates the overall economic impact of the industry is about $790 billion per year.

With increased understanding of genetics, the future looks brighter than ever for innovative new treatments. To ensure that medications continue to be developed, and that the U.S. retains its leadership position in the industry, the U.S. will need to maintain a framework that balances the cost of innovation and the affordability of treatments. The U.S. will also need to ensure that our education institutions are providing enough graduates with strong backgrounds in sciences, math, engineering, and technology, to ensure these jobs don’t gravitate to other nations.

DuPont: Nurturing Careers in Science

  • December 19, 2013

Each year, Science magazine presents a list of the best employers in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Employers are ranked on 23 variables, including financial performance, work culture, and academic and intellectual challenge. More than 3,500 scientists around the world are surveyed by the journal, which is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Among the companies so recognized, DuPont made the list in 2013 for the sixth year in succession. Across six continents, DuPont employs more than 10,000 scientists in the areas of biology, chemistry, materials science, and engineering. Science-driven innovation lies at the heart of the company’s long-term business strategy.

Through the years, their researchers and managers have introduced such ground-breaking technologies as  Teflon® coatings, Kevlar® fibers, Tyvek® house wrap, Nomex® thermal protection, Corian® kitchen surfaces, Plenish® soybean oil, and Sorona® renewably sourced fiber, among dozens of others.

Under the leadership of new Chair and CEO Ellen Cullman, DuPont is continuing its transition from traditional chemicals to a greater emphasis on food science, environmental protection, and renewable energy solutions. Science lies at the heart of the company’s focus. She and the company are encouraging high school and college students in the U.S. to study science, math, and engineering to ensure that companies like hers will be able to continue to conduct R&D activity in the U.S. long into the future.

DuPont believes that by collaborating with customers, governments, NGOs, and thought leaders, it will help find solutions to global challenges related to providing the world with enough food, decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, and protecting life and the environment. That focus means the emphasis on science and innovation at DuPont will be stronger than ever for many years to come.

Lockheed Missiles & Fire Control: Precision and Quality

  • November 29, 2013


PAC-3 Missile

More than 4,400 people work at the Lockheed Missiles and Fire Control plant, outside of Orlando. The plant is part of the Missiles and Fire Control (MFC) division that is headquartered near Dallas. In total, MFC employs 10,000 people in eleven states, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

Between February and November 2013 alone, MFC received $840 million in contracts from the U.S. military and U.S. allies like South Korea and Saudi Arabia. MFC provides missiles, fighter-jet weapons-targeting radar systems, missile launch detectors, electro-optical fire-control systems for helicopters, flight-training systems, and war-gaming training, among other products and services.

In 2012, MFC received the highly coveted Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. MFC’s return on investment had grown at a 23 percent compound annual rate, compared to a 13.7 percent rate at its nearest industry competitor. Its operating margin over 11 years had a compound annual growth rate of 6.2 percent.

Focused on continual improvement, MFC used a lean-manufacturing process called value-stream mapping to evaluate 8,500 processes from 2000 to 2012. This mapping covered 90 percent of the enterprise direct costs. The studies found that supplier on-time delivery had been near 100 percent. Time reductions associated with process and performance improvement saved an estimated average of $225 million per year. Facility uptime had been at 100 percent since 2007 despite nearly 2,000 potential disruptions. Equally impressive, MFC achieved a 99.4 percent on-time delivery record while experiencing a 1,000 percent growth in annual deliveries over the 11-year period.

Achieving these results requires a complex system of procedures that is followed carefully, coupled with a corporate culture that emphasizes excellence. The results are also a reflection on Lockheed’s supplier companies, who manufacture precision parts to specification and deliver them on schedule.

The work of defense contractors and their suppliers is becoming ever-more difficult in an era of scarce budget resources and sequestration. Companies like MFC will continue to be challenged to push the limits on productivity and budget efficiency without compromising product reliability, quality and timeliness. As an essential foundation of the U.S. industrial base, the success of MFC and other defense contractors in meeting that challenge will be critically important.

Yet, it’s important at the end of the day to remember that defense contractors, like all manufacturers, are people. And in that regard, it’s worth noting that MFC employees donate, on average, more than $2 million per year to charities in their home communities. That is just another reason that Lockheed Missiles and Fire Control constitutes a Great Manufacturing Story.

To read other Great Manufacturing Stories, click here.

Precision Sheet Metal Operator Certification: A Manufacturing Skills Standard

  • November 26, 2013

In a positive development, the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International (FMA) and The Manufacturing Institute (an arm of the National Association of Manufacturers), are partnering on precision metal fabrication certifications. The partnership adds FMA’s Precision Sheet Metal Operator (PSMO) certification to the NAM-backed Manufacturing Skills Certification System.  

An individual who passes the PSMO exam demonstrates a firm grounding in the science, math and problem-solving behind metal fabrication technology. The certification focuses on fundamentals like blueprint reading and math calculations, and assesses knowledge needed for working with press brakes, shears, lasers and other fabricating equipment. Processes covered include shearing, sawing, press brake, punch press, laser cutting, and mechanical finishing.

Fabricators looking to hire or promote employees to responsible positions in sheet metal fabrication can rely on this certification as they build a successful team. Skilled employees who earn this certification will be a part of Great Manufacturing Stories for many years to come.

Arcelor Mittal: Developing Steelworkers for the Future

  • January 22, 2012

Billy Joel’s hit record “Allentown” harkened back to a day when the steel industry was labor-intensive, providing lifelong jobs as a laborer even for those with few skills. Today, the modern steel industry is highly automated and exceptionally efficient. Fewer employees are required, but those working in today’s steel plants must be able to use information technology, understand the science of steelmaking, exercise critical thinking skills, and communicate clearly, both orally and in writing.

As the current generation of experienced steelworkers nears retirement, there are questions of where their replacements will come from, and how prepared they’ll be. Arcelor Mittal, the largest steel company in the world, wants to be prepared, and its Steelworker for the Future program – a Great Manufacturing Story – advances that goal.

Partnering with the United Steelworkers union and community colleges in Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia, the Luxemborg-based company offers a program to prepare students for the steel industry of today and tomorrow. It includes classroom learning and paid internships on the plant floor. Those completing the program can receive an associate’s degree, plus an opportunity to get a high-paying, full-time job at Arcelor Mittal. The early results have been encouraging, prompting the company to expand the program this year.