The American industrial landscape has undergone significant changes in the last twenty years. Manufacturing work isn’t as common as it used to be, and jobs with union pay and benefits are even harder to find. In many states, especially in the Deep South, unions are pretty much nonexistent. Then there’s the Wall Street factor that compels a lot of major corporations to care more about their stock price than anything else. Because if the stock price is low, then shareholder satisfaction will also be low, and then board meetings can start to get really uncomfortable.
Despite all that, there are still companies that are devoted to making quality products and providing quality services. There are good companies who want to find a way to do more with a little less, which is different than just taking shortcuts and hoping no one notices the difference. (Sloppy work always gets noticed sooner or later, so that’s not a very good strategy.)
High performance, high efficiency
Think about the food you eat every day. You generally have to choose between something fast or something good. Let’s say it’s a cold day and you want to have some chicken noodle soup. You can go to the grocery store and buy all the ingredients for soup and cook it yourself, or you can buy a can of condensed soup, open it, and throw it in a saucepan. The latter is much easier, but you’re going to be sacrificing taste for efficiency. In a sense, companies are trying to figure out how to have their cake (or soup) and eat it too.
They want products that meet a high performance standard, but they want to be able to skip some steps when they’re creating such products. Automotive industry solutions are often focused on things like using advanced composite materials rather than traditional materials. That’s far from the only thing the automotive industry is doing, though, since it’s a field with a history of taking chances. To some extent, you have to take chances if you want to make it in this cutthroat business climate. It doesn’t matter if you’re making cars or making ice cream cones.
Think of a stick you pick up during a walk in the park. It’s best if the stick can be used for more than one thing. Sure, dogs love to play fetch with sticks, but what else can be done with them? If a stick can also somehow be converted into an energy source that powers cars, then suddenly people don’t have to rely on gas stations and fossil fuels as much. Obviously, that’s an extreme and even silly example, but more and more business leaders are looking for ways to get multiple uses out of a single product.
When most people think of perforated metal tubes, they probably don’t picture them being used in everything from oil rig filtration to light diffusion. But someone looked at a tube and saw more than just perforated metal, and that opened the door to a lot of other things.