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The manufacturing job of the future: clean, urban, and better paid

March 14, 2019 / RUTH READER

At an 80,000-square-foot combat gear factory in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard, there is only the quiet chatter of sewing needles and the distinct absence of sweat. A thick stack of fabric lies on a long machine waiting to be compressed and cut into shapes. It can automate a lot, says Gregg Thompson cofounder of combat wear company Crye Precision, but the volume has to be there. Machines are not so great at design iteration, he says. A man standing next to the machine slices sheets of fabric by hand. He’s faster, says Thompson, and he can execute multiple designs without needing to be reprogrammed.
A shift is happening in manufacturing, bringing humans and machines closer together and making production more responsive to changing needs. The change is coming from companies that need flexible processes that allow their products to evolve with the needs of their customers.