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Brian Raymond

Telecom Infrastructure Investment Boosts Manufacturing Innovation

By | Infrastructure, Shopfloor Policy, Technology | No Comments

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) recently released “Building to Win,” a blueprint for the next Congress and president on how to repair and revolutionize the infrastructure that makes the American Dream possible. There are many pieces of infrastructure mentioned in the reporttraditional transportation infrastructure as well as energy, water and communications systems. Broadband is one segment of infrastructure that is often overlooked but cannot be forgotten as the next president and Congress look ahead to a renewed focus on infrastructure.

There is little or no argument about the benefits of widespread adoption of broadband. It creates economic opportunity and equality. In the manufacturing sector, it is helping to power the disruptive technologythe Internet of Things, the cloud, Big Data, 3D printing, drones, etc.that is transforming traditional businesses.

NAM members told us in a recent survey that these new technologies are increasing shop floor efficiencies, enabling new revenue streams and allowing manufacturers to move into completely different product lines. And a common link throughout all these technologies? They all run on top of our nation’s telecommunications infrastructure.

Our products and processes have become increasingly dependent on the latest telecommunications tools and networks. Many manufacturers leverage commercially available networks, and many others manage their own networks for their facilities. No matter what type of network, they are all almost entirely funded with private investment.

Unfortunately, if private investment in this piece of the infrastructure lags, our manufacturing innovation leadership will be further challenged.

The Progressive Policy Institute recently published its “Investment Heroes” report in which it ranks corporations by levels of capital spending. PPI’s primary conclusion was that these private investments raise productivity and wages across the country. It also cited a “vitally important” policy challenge to maintain investment and that was to get regulation “out of the way.”

Those of us in the manufacturing sector agree: a regulatory environment that fosters investment rather than restricts it is needed, especially when it comes to broadband. When companies are faced with a complex, mandatory regulatory regime, it severely reduces investment in infrastructure. This lack of investment will significantly lower the multiplier effect technology has on our industry, the people we employ and the products we create.

Appetite for Disruption

By | Innovation, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Technology | No Comments

Manufacturers are disruptors. We disrupt products and processes. We disrupt markets. We disrupt our own enterprises based on the needs of our customers. We disrupt because thats what it takes to compete. We disrupt because it drives growth in our businesses and our ability to create jobs.

Disruption is not a new concept for manufacturers or any other industry that strives to outperform its competition. Disruption is a concept we embrace. We don’t do it to have onlookers say you’re crazy. We do it because our industry knows that if we are not driving the disruption, it will drive us out of business.

Technology is the latest disruptor inside the manufacturing sector. This is no secret. Technology has been driving change in our industry for decades. However, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) wanted to better understand just how much technology was disrupting our members. We wanted to know what it means for their business and, if it changes, how they think about you, their customers. So, we asked them and wanted to share with you what we found.

The results from our recent survey of NAM members says that manufacturers are investing in disruptive technologies for many reasons. It is improving shop floor efficiency, speeding up time to market, creating new revenue streams and driving future business.

We also found out a few barriers to investing in disruptive technologiestwo of which include a mismatch of skills and the overreach of government regulation.

Additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, the cloud, big data, drones, robotics and the Internet of Things are just some of the disruptive technologies being leveraged by the manufacturing sector. The NAM is focused on educating lawmakers in Washington so they understand how it’s so easy to create an environment that fosters the growth of disruptive technologies in manufacturing rather than creating an anything goes policy environment.

Cybersecurity—Manufacturers Are More Than Aware

By | Innovation, Shopfloor Policy, Technology | No Comments

October is recognized as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. The Department of Homeland Security describes it as “an annual campaign to raise awareness about cybersecurity.” The National Association of Manufacturers and manufacturers across the country are pleased to participate in this campaign.

The manufacturing sector is extremely diverse in its size, scope and outputs. The one common thread is that all traditional manufacturing companies are pushing the limits of innovation. Technology is infused throughout everything our industry does, therefore making all manufacturers high-tech enterprises.

One of the biggest trends happening in our sector is the proliferation of connected devices, or the Internet of Things (IoT). What was unimaginable just a decade ago is now a reality. Manufacturers are the creators, users, servicers and installers of the IoT.

Manufacturers have become the first line of defense in securing our nation’s most critical online assets. As a result, our industry places the cybersecurity of its products and processes at the highest priority level.

As we kick off this month that recognizes the importance of cybersecurity to everyoneboth personally and professionallythe NAM will continue its focus on building a stronger publicprivate partnership. We will keep calling for economic tools to encourage investment beyond ordinary levels of commercial cybersecurity spending. We will encourage NIST to complete its cyber-framework efforts to determine the most cost-effective elements of cyber-defense. We will continue to call for a coordinated strategy across the government that helps secure and foster the growth of the IoT. We will work with our government partners and provide guidance on how to improve their resources available to manufacturers. Most importantly, we will continue to be America’s leading innovators.

NAM to FCC: Unnecessary Regulations Stifle Innovation Investment

By | Shopfloor Policy, Technology | No Comments

All five commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are testifying today in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee. The FCC has been exercising its regulatory authority quite liberally lately, and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) joined other associations to send a message this morning: Undue regulatory burdens are putting our nation’s future innovation at risk.

The NAM signed a joint-industry letter to the leaders of the subcommittee calling attention to one of the most recent regulatory overreaches by the FCC: an attempt to create a new set of privacy requirements that would apply to only one industry. This is an unnecessary attempt by the FCC to extend its authority when another agency, the Federal Trade Commission, already has a robust privacy protection regime, which currently applies to all industries. The NAM also officially filed comments with the FCC on this issue in May of this year.

We applaud congressional leaders holding these agency leaders responsible. At a time when manufacturers are leveraging the internet across their shop floors and in the products made there, we cannot afford regulations that only accomplish one goal: thwarting investment in our nation’s telecommunications infrastructure.

House to Consider Bipartisan Bill to Enhance Government-Wide IT Strategy

By | Shopfloor Policy, Technology | No Comments

The House is scheduled to consider the bipartisan Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Modernization Act of 2016 (H.R. 5312) today. This legislation calls for better coordination across the federal government on its investment in research and development (R&D) on information technologies, such as networking, computing, software and cybersecurity. Read More

Senate Passes Critical Intellectual Property Legislation

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Technology, Trade | No Comments

Tonight the U.S. Senate took a huge step toward protecting manufacturing products and processes from the current onslaught of intellectual property (IP) theft by passing the Defend Trade Secrets Act. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement after the bill’s passage, citing the important role IP has for manufacturers of all sizes:

“Manufacturers in America are the world leaders in innovation. The know-how to perfect their products can take years, even decades. These days, a competitor can steal that knowledge with the click of a mouse, costing a company good-paying jobs or even its entire business. This is a critical issue facing manufacturers, one that will define competition and success in the 21st century. That’s why we need all the tools possible to protect the superior knowledge and products that set our industry apart.

“IP can comprise up to 80 percent of the value of a company’s knowledge portfolio, and theft of these resources costs U.S. businesses roughly $250 billion a year. Manufacturers need a strong, unified federal policy that will enforce strict laws to protect what many businesses consider their most valued corporate assets. Today’s vote is a step toward updating our laws and helping manufacturers prevent IP theft aggressively and efficiently.

“We support Senate passage of the Defend Trade Secrets Act and urge the House to take swift action to get this legislation to the president’s desk for his signature.”

Read More

NAM Member ABB Highlights Role of Internet of Things in Manufacturing

By | Innovation, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Technology | No Comments

Digital technology is changing the landscape of how the world makes things. More and more often, terms like “advanced manufacturing” and “smart” work are being used to describe the latest era in our sector. But what does “advanced manufacturing” mean? What affect is it having on the supply chain? On jobs? On our laws? Greg Scheu, executive committee member of ABB Group and president of ABB Americas Region, joined lawmakers, administration officials and technology experts in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss those questions.

The goal of advanced manufacturing, according to Scheu, is using technology to provide a competitive advantage—helping grow their business, service their customers and compete globally. Connected products and processes—or the Internet of Things—are helping manufacturers become more efficient in their processes and develop a broader, more customizable array of products to offer.  Read More

Senate “Internet of Things” Legislation Makes Manufacturers a Partner in Innovation Policy

By | Innovation, Shopfloor Policy, Technology | No Comments

Yesterday, four senators rolled out a bipartisan bill that, if passed, would form an Internet of Things (IoT) working group at the Department of Commerce. The legislation, the Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things (DIGIT) Act was introduced by Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Brian Schatz (D-HI). The bill would require Commerce to create a working group that would give Congress recommendations on how best to encourage IoT growth.  Read More

Laws Need to Keep Up with Innovation in Manufacturing

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Technology | No Comments

We are living in the world of modern manufacturing.  Walk in to a manufacturing facility on any given day and you will see state-of-the-art technology seamlessly integrated with manufacturing products and processes.  Much of this is being driven by the proliferation of connected devices—known as the Internet of Things (IoT)—which is increasing efficiency and product quality across the supply chain. Read More