My journey in manufacturing started when I was five years old. My grandparents gifted me a full size claw hammer for my birthday. Even as a small child the empowerment that came from being trusted with, and wielding such a simple tool was fascinating for me. It's quite interesting that hammers, as simple as they are, still build many of our homes. Tools give us the means to create and better our lives.
Creativity in manufacturing is just as valuable as facts. The difference however is that one of the two can be found in a reference book or these days, on the internet. Creativity is what leads to Innovation, efficiency and value in any product.
The real question is! How do you learn to be creative?
I think creativity is something that can be taught, nurtured, encouraged and practiced, as most skills are.
A workplace that embraces creativity, and capitalizes on an individual's idea to improve manufacturing processes, will grow well rounded staff with ninja like problem solving skills in the long term.
There has to be production and organization; however, with a solid plan, new ways of doing things should always be welcome. Otherwise the process, machinery and people your using now, won't be competitive in the marketplace of tomorrow, let alone next year.
Creativity, however, requires something that is hard to find; Passion. When someone looks at a manufactured part, how passionate the person or people involved in its production is probably not your first thought. However it's actually quite easy to tell how much thought, effort and innovation was put into a product.
The man who took me under his wing over a decade ago in the machining trade had a saying that has and will always stick with me: "There are people who do trades, and there are trades people" The difference being that people who do trades, do not take pride in the fine details and skill of their craft. True trades people, live by a standard of quality that follows them from project to project, no matter the discipline. A carpenter passionate about quality and detail, if thrown into a mechanics project, will take the time to fully understand his task, learn the subject and complete it with perfection.