Technology is revolutionizing manufacturing—the Internet of Things, Big Data and the cloud. All of these innovative tools are changing what we make and how we make it. That was a topic of discussion at “Manufacturing in America,” an event hosted by Siemens and Electro-Matic Products this week at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich. In his remarks Wednesday morning, Tenneco Inc. Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Chair Gregg Sherrill delved into the many ways technology is not only empowering manufacturers, transforming our products and changing lives but also creating new policy challenges. Lawmakers must approach these challenges with care or risk stunting this growth opportunity for manufacturers in the United States.
Products and processes connected online, also known as the Internet of Things, facilitate the seamless integration of supply chains, drive increased global collaboration and connect design with production. The data generated allow manufacturers to get real-time feedback to better serve their customers and deliver higher quality and safer products. The cloud is securely moving information at light speed across borders.
For this technology to reach its full potential across all manufacturing sectors, we must have the responsible, supporting public policies in place—and avoid rushed or misguided regulation—so that we can continue to drive an innovation revolution. In Detroit, Sherrill called on policymakers to be a partner to foster manufacturing innovation. The public and private sectors need to work together to combat the ever-present cyber threat now faced by digitally-driven manufacturers. Intellectual property laws must be updated to reflect modern manufacturing and their most important assets generated by the industry that spends the most on research and development. Sherrill cited the need to knock down regulatory and legal hurdles that negatively impact growth and to close the persistent skills gap impacting our advanced manufacturing workforce.
These are not the only areas where manufacturers want to see action. Sherrill also discussed the NAM’s full policy agenda, “Competing to Win,” with attendees. The NAM released the agenda earlier this year.
Economic headwinds may be unavoidable, but Washington can get it right on policy and spur economic growth and job creation. Policymakers just need to act. Division and partisanship are not the answer. There’s no doubt that in this election year, there’s plenty of divisive rhetoric to go around, but that won’t create more manufacturing jobs. So manufacturers will continue to hold our leaders accountable. There’s too much at stake, including the growth of our continued global leadership in innovation and technology.