The future-shock of 1956 is close to today’s reality

The design of the new manufacturing facility capitalized on the surge in cell phones with built-in TV receivers. The facility was designed with Lean manufacturing in mind – no on-site storage for raw materials or finished products. The production rate is set by adjusting manufacturing automatically to meet consumer demand.


The design of the new manufacturing facility capitalized on the surge in cell phones with built-in TV receivers. The facility was designed with Lean manufacturing in mind %%MDASSML%% no on-site storage for raw materials or finished products. The production rate is set by adjusting manufacturing automatically to meet consumer demand. It is a Green building, with environmentally-friendly solar panels and heat-absorbing walls.

As its designer, architect A. Epstein said, “Our buildings are rapidly undergoing a metamorphosis from the static 'roof-over-our-heads’ style structure to the dynamic plant of tomorrow.”

It sounds like what every manufacturing facility built today aspires to be. It was what Epstein and his dreamers thought a manufacturing facility could be when he first unveiled the 'Plant of 2005 A.D.’ at the 7th Plant Maintenance and Engineering Show on Jan. 23, 1956. Plant Engineering magazine was the home for this innovative design when it debuted more than 50 years ago.

The designers got a few things wrong %%MDASSML%% and much to our chagrin. They envisioned a day when flying saucers would whisk workers to their jobs from as far away as 300 miles. They saw a reduction in the work week to four or five hours a day, with limited need for plant maintenance. Buildings would be constructed of non-oxidizing materials. “In the year 2005 A.D.,” the planners imagined, “the world will be a cleaner place in which to live.”

Yet look how much did they get right! Automated assembly %%MDASSML%% of video cell phones, no less %%MDASSML%% in a Lean environment with energy efficiency and high-speed production. Plant managers “will not be concerned, as today, with costs-per-unit of production but rather costs based on time of production at a given capacity rate,” they surmised.

And 50 years later, those issues still challenge today’s architects and engineers at Chicago-based A. Epstein and Sons International, Inc. “What I find interesting is that the big picture topics %%MDASSML%% energy, location, traffic and transportation %%MDASSML%% are the same today,” said John Patelski, executive managing director and president of the firm’s engineering and construction group.

Patelski sees the issues of today being a factor in the decisions made to design today’s manufacturing plant. “They talk about the cost and availability of skilled labor, the continuous need to integrate more technology,” he said.

Patelski sees a parallel between the work his firm started in 1955 and the work it is doing now. “There will need to be an improved internal work environment. We’ll need to reduce the cost of the plant to operate. We’ve seen that in a lot of office environments, and it’s migrating to the industrial sector. You’re going to see a lot of 'smart’ buildings, high-speed wireless and a lot of I/O data that is responding to the environment.

Patelski sees one other change in the next generation of manufacturing facilities %%MDASSML%% and one that also harkens to the Cold War era of the 1950s. “The other thing that is somewhat of a reality is manufacturing facilities integrating disaster preparedness into the facility for natural disasters as well as terrorist attacks,” he said. “Security, UPS systems, sequencing of events for a shutdown, call lists at the facility will all be part of the plan.”

In many ways, the new manufacturing facility of tomorrow may not even be a new building. “Energy resources will drive costs, and materials will change,” Patelski said. “Well-positioned buildings will become important, and will be calling for adaptive reuse.”

Remember in 50 years %%MDASSML%% you read it first in Plant Engineering .

Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2017 Top Plant.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
February 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
March 2018
SCCR, 2018 Maintenance study, and VFDs in a washdown environment.
Jan/Feb 2018
Welding ergonomics, 2017 Salary Survey, and surge protection
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
February 2018
Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
December 2017
Product of the Year winners, Pattern recognition, Engineering analytics, Revitalize older pump installations
April 2018
Implementing a DCS, stepper motors, intelligent motion control, remote monitoring of irrigation systems
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards
December 2017
PID controllers, Solar-powered SCADA, Using 80 GHz radar sensors

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Maintenance & Safety
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Industrial Analytics
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
IIoT: Operations & IT
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me