What is the Importance of Mathematics in Manufacturing?

Mother of ClocksApril is Mathematics Awareness Month. To get an inside perspective on the importance of math, we posed the following question to the Gateway Manufacturing office and engineering & maintenance staff:

What is the importance of mathematics in manufacturing & in running a manufacturing company? How often do you use math in your job?

 The answers we received highlight the importance of math not just in manufacturing, but in everyday life. Check out what our employees had to say:


Scottie Elam – Plant Engineer, Engineering Degree w/ emphasis on Manufacturing and Robotics:

“I use Math all the time. In developing parts, reading gauges & building machines. I like it because it’s either right, or it’s wrong—black or white. Math was always fun for me!”


Dusty Goldy – Plant Engineer, Engineering Degree, w/ emphasis on Industrial Technology:

“Math is an everyday issue! I tell my 12 year old daughter, “Whatever profession you are going to choose, learn as much Math as you can. You will use it EVERYDAY!”


Vernier Scale

Vernier Scale

Ernest Barnett, Plant Maintenance:

A LOT!!! You gotta have math!! We use it for EVERYTHING we do around here! Reading gauges & Vernier Scales, gearing, belting, figuring gear ratios. Today I had to drill a hole for a part to within 1/1,000th”. You can’t do that without Math.”


Anna Wright – Customer Service/Order Fulfillment Manager:

“You have to be good at math, because with Order Fulfillment, it’s so automatic! Knowing how many products are in a carton, how many cartons are in the order, how many cartons will ship on a pallet… Without solid math skills, it would be much harder to do my job efficiently.”


Measuring a Crate

Measuring a Crate

Carol Gessford – Controller:

“Math is a major part of my job in accounting. All I do is work with numbers. Making sure amounts on invoices are correct and discounts are figured correctly. Payroll uses math in figuring how much to pay each employee. Payroll taxes have to be figured by multiplying by the correct per cent. Even though the computer program figures all this, I need to know it is doing it correctly by knowing math skills.”


Doug Gessford – CEO, Electrical Engineering Degree, Manufacturing Systems Engineering Advanced Degree:

“Math is part of everyday life. One cannot function through the day without using mathematic skills.

“Without math, how can you figure what something cost to buy because we pay tax on everything? And in Kentucky, you have to add 6% to the cost of something you buy.

“When you eat out, you need to figure the cost of what you’re buying to make sure you have enough money to pay for your meal. Then, if you are having a sit down meal, you need to figure out the tip to give your server.

“As a toddler, you started with math when you were asked ‘On your next birthday, how old will you be?’ You had to add 1 to your current age.

“General manufacturing labor needs to be comfortable with percentages to figure out how close to rate they are running, what your defect rate is. How far ahead or behind the production rate you currently find yourself.

“As an adult, you have to manage your money, and that involves balancing a check book to figuring out how much of a payment you can afford after paying all your monthly bills to buy something.

“Everyone needs to know, understand and be comfortable with using math in order to live in today’s life. Math is an integral part of everyday life.”


Above all, these answers highlight that math is a tool, one that when can be used to pursue a whole host of opportunities. As such a valuable tool, it is important that we continue to reinforce its value to the next generation. If they’re anything like our own staff, they’ll grow to find math more than just useful, but fun.