I was watching the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers thug it out on Monday Night Football thinking this is all so Howard Cosell and Dandy Don Meredith. The National Football League is still raking in the bucks but it’s fan base is old and getting older. Kids don’t want NFL jerseys in Chicago, they want hockey and basketball. They want Rose and Toews on their backs.
If the NFL is yesterday, Major League Baseball is yesterday-er.
I love baseball and I always will, but kids aren’t playing it much anymore in America. Maybe a little in California and Texas but it is mostly Latin America and Japan where they still toss the horsehide. Few black kids in America know Jackie Robinson from Robinson Cano.
The world changes and I’d like to apply the sports analogy to manufacturing today.
In my world of machining the fresh capital is flowing into robots that take people off the machining floor. Companies are also buying peripheral equipment like washers and parts cleaners which simplify their lives and make the workplace cleaner.
Certainly people are also investing in Citizens and Eurotechs and Okumas but robots are going down dramatically in price and deliver enormous value. Replace a person and forget about health insurance and the absentee chart.
My screw machine and rotary transfer world is more viable these days, with automotive and ammo quite bouncy and America the place to be for turning metal. But the machines require massive investments and long term faith in a chronically cyclical industry.
The most interesting manufacturing technology I see is 3D printing. It’s getting better and better and revenues are doubling year over year. I think it it is still in its infancy. It will not replace machining for decades, but it will be a significant player. The stock market has been propelling 3D printing pioneer, Strataysys into the stratosphere.
My question to you folks on the front lines is simple. Is machining the NFL of manufacturing — hauling in the bucks today, but sloping downward? Can you make money with human machine tenders or will they vanish like African American ball players?
Question: Is machining the bastion of old white guys in an NBA or NHL kind of world?