Fall is for Manufacturing

Manufacturing is an essential part of the backbone of US economy and competitiveness, and the last months have caused an increased awareness of this. Covid has forced manufacturers to rethink various aspects of their business; relationships with...

Manufacturing is an essential part of the backbone of US economy and competitiveness, and the last months have caused an increased awareness of this. Covid has forced manufacturers to rethink various aspects of their business; relationships with suppliers, customer and the workforce; outsourcing, insourcing and reshoring; automation and so on. Resilience is becoming a more and more critical part of the modern business environment. Even post-Covid, resilience in dealing with stressors such as the rapid technological evolution will remain.

Already before Covid, manufacturing competitiveness was identified as a top priority, in particular advanced manufacturing which was considered one of the five key “Industries of the Future” by the administration along with AI, quantum computing/quantum information sciences, advanced communication networks and biotechnology.  The 2018 report “Strategy for American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing” highlights the federal agencies role: “Federal agencies play key roles in fostering the growth of advanced manufacturing through investments in research and development and in education and workforce development”. Advanced manufacturing was recently listed as part of the United States Government’s Critical and Emerging Technologies List

Over the years several programs and activities have emerged in the U.S. addressing technological development as well as workforce and skills development. The fall is the time when manufacturing is highlighted through events such as Manufacturing Day in October and National Apprenticeships Week in November.

Manufacturing USA is the American flagship for advanced manufacturing. It comprises of 14 institutes, each focusing on a critical advanced technology area, bringing together manufacturers, government and educational organizations. With over 1900 members and federal sponsoring from Department of Commerce, Defense and Energy this public-private partnership addresses national challenges, advance technologies in manufacturing processes and facilities, expand knowledge and skills needed by the workforce to use the new technologies, to support a strong manufacturing industrial base that delivers novel products here in the U.S.

A few examples of Manufacturing USA institutes illustrating the range of technology areas covered:  

  • ARMI (Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute)/BioFabUSA, founded by the legendary inventor Dean Karmen, with a mission to make practical the large-scale manufacturing of engineered tissues and tissue-related technologies. BioFabUSA was established to turn foundational breakthroughs in the manufacture of engineered tissues and tissue-related technologies into life-changing possibilities for everyone
  • REMADE (Reducing EMbodied-energy And Decreasing Emissions Institute), enables the early stage applied research and development of key industrial platform technologies that could dramatically reduce the embodied energy and emissions associated with industrial-scale materials production and processing. Almost 25% of the energy consumption in the USA comes from industry and REMADE aims to drive down the energy and cost required to recover, reuse, remanufacture and recycle four classes of materials: metals, fibers, polymers, and electronic waste.
  • MxD (Manufacturing times Digital) focus is on accelerating the development and adoption of digital technology across manufacturing operations to positively impact the way we work. This includes retrofitting legacy machines with advanced cybersecurity to the use of digital models and augmented reality for enhanced productivity.  MxD provides factories with the digital tools and expertise needed to build things more efficiently, more quickly, and at less cost.

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) under the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is focused on helping US manufacturers incorporate innovation, new technologies, productivity and quality improvement techniques and develop their workforce. With centers in all states they play a crucial role in bringing the technology advancements and knowledge from the Manufacturing USA Institutes to the local manufacturing base. MEP creates a high return on investment for taxpayers; every federal dollar generates 33.80 USD in new sales growth which translates into 4.7 billion USD in new sales, and for every 1.221 USD of federal investment the network creates or retains one manufacturing job. 

Manufacturing Day (MFG Day) has become a national happening every October to support a diverse and sustainable manufacturing workforce. Despite manufacturing jobs being well paid there is a significant shortage of skilled workers with the required STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills and the gap is expected to increase rather than decrease. In order to reduce the “perception gap” of modern and advanced manufacturing, the Manufacturing Day was created to show the reality of manufacturing today and tomorrow. The initial pilot in 2012 encompassed the mid-western part of the country, but it has since grown to cover the entire country and span from one-day to weeklong or even monthlong events. Each year thousands of manufacturers open their doors to inspire future skilled workforce – this year of course virtually. MFG Day has bipartisan support from the administration as well as from several governors and leading members of Congress.

Manufacturing by the numbers:

In 2018 the roughly 250 000 US manufacturers employed 12.7 % of the US workforce, contributed 2.3 trillion USD to the economy, accounted for 1.4 trillion in exports with a 27 % growth in manufacturing exports from 2010 to 2018. At the same time real manufacturing value has declined and manufacturing productivity has stagnated.

If you are interested in discussing the future of manufacturing, we welcome you to contact our office.

Maria Lönnberg