Manufacturing Day (MFG DAY), an annual event designed to celebrate modern manufacturing and inspire the next generation of manufacturers, took place on October 6. On this day, manufacturers invite students, teachers, business people, media, politicians and others from the community to their facilities to educate them about career opportunities and improve public perceptions of modern manufacturing.

According to the website, MFG DAY first started in 2012, and has seen an increase in the number of events of over 1,000% since it began. In 2016, 2,807 companies registered a MFG DAY event at their facilities. The day involved 595,341 total participants, including 267,607 students.

The website also notes that students who attended MFG DAY events were asked to participate in a survey administered by Deloitte. The results show that 89% of the students left the day feeling more aware of manufacturing jobs in their communities, 84% were more convinced that manufacturing provides careers that are interesting and rewarding, 64% were more motivated to pursue careers in manufacturing, and 71% were more likely to tell friends, family, parents or colleagues about manufacturing after attending an event.

Western Michigan turned MFG DAY into a week-long event that included open houses, public tours and other events. OMT-Veyhl USA, a Holland, Michigan, furniture supplier of height-adjustable and ergonomic products, participated in Manufacturing Week. The company, a joint venture between German companies OMT GmbH and Veyhl GmbH, hosted three schools in the community, and utilized the visits to show students the latest manufacturing technology that occurs in the facility and how each of the many facets within manufacturing plays a role in the end product. They explained to students how a career in manufacturing is important for both local and global economies.

One of the areas introduced to the students was the company’s new automated powder coating (PC) line, which was completed in August of this year. The PC line was custom-designed for OMT-Veyhl USA by its engineers to reach its fullest potential of efficiency and environmental friendliness. The new line reuses heat from the ovens to heat the facility. And it reuses the water from the product wash by filtering it through special oil filters that separate the water and oil. The water can be reused in the wash, and the oil is recycled for other uses. The new line also features light curtains that the parts pass through before entering the powder booths. These curtains inform the powder guns where the parts are on the rack, allowing the guns to only spray powder in that area, thus reducing the amount of powder and energy used. In addition, the new line has tripled the output of painted parts per day.

I often hear concern among coatings suppliers and manufacturers about the future of our industry, and the shortage of people interested in pursuing a career in coatings manufacturing. The focus is often on chemistry, but perhaps introducing students to the full manufacturing process would increase awareness and appeal to more young people. I encourage you to visit and register an event at your company for 2018!