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ARPA-E and the Continuing Need for Transformation‎al Energy Technologies

By | General, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

This Friday is Manufacturing Day, when more than 2,500 manufacturers (and counting) will open their doors and show the world what modern manufacturing looks like. When it comes to energy and the environment, modern manufacturing and the solutions we provide are the key to solving the many challenges that confront us.

The good news is that we’ve come a long way already. Disruptive technologies have already changed the way we produce and use energy and will continue to do so in the future. Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling unlocked vast natural gas resources and changed the face of manufacturing in America. Advanced technologies like battery storage, demand-side management, electric vehicles, small modular nuclear reactors and many others will almost surely do the same.

It’s great to talk about those transformational technologies, and while a competitive market is generally the best way to encourage their development, the reality is that both the public and the private sector have roles to play. For instance, government can play a positive role ‎in support of the research and development (R&D) of alternative energy sources or technologies at a pre-commercial stage. There is also an important federal role to be played in basic R&D of new high-risk energy efficiency and waste minimization technologies in energy-intensive industries, particularly where private-sector incentives may be inadequate.

That brings us to the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), a 10-year-old program that has found itself in the middle of a debate over the role of federal spending ‎on energy R&D programs. Manufacturers have long supported ARPA-E, which we believe is a valuable program to fund high-risk, transformational energy technologies that the private sector may not yet be ready to invest in. The Department of Energy reports that, since 2009, ARPA-E has provided more than $1.5 billion in financing to more than 580 projects. Fifty-six of those projects have formed new companies; 68 projects have partnered with other government agencies to further development; and 74 projects have attracted more than $1.8 billion in follow-on funding.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recently ‎completed an assessment of the program and concluded that ARPA-E has been successful and deserves a longer timeline to pursue its statutory mission. The NAS found that ARPA-E “has the ability to make significant contributions to energy R&D that likely would not take place absent the agency’s activities.”

Several case studies bring this point home. ARPA-E funding helped enable a company called Smart Wires to develop a device that clamps onto existing transmission lines and controls the flow of power within the lines. This is an area of major need for manufacturers, who demand always-on electricity despite a rapidly changing power grid. ARPA-E’s funding allowed Smart Wires to build prototype devices and deploy them for testing. Since this successful test round, Smart Wires has undertaken several rounds of successful fundraising, including $30.8 million in 2015 to bring its PowerLine Guardian product to commercial production.

ARPA-E provided partial funding for a company called 1366 Technologies to develop a novel silicon wafer manufacturing process that could dramatically reduce the cost (and increase the durability) of solar panels. Not only did this company succeed, but the product developed ultimately replaced the leading technology options that had received venture capital funding. ARPA-E’s funding allowed 1366 Technologies the freedom to pursue the basic science that helped lead to commercialization of this technology.

Finally, ARPA-E provided funding for Harvard University to develop slippery surface technologies that yielded extreme energy savings in many industrial settings. After two years, the research had progressed well enough to enable the launch of a startup company, SLIPS Technologies, Inc. (STI), to broadly commercialize the technology. STI was launched in October 2014 with venture capital financing led by the venture capital arm of chemical manufacturer BASF Corporation.

The National Association of Manufacturers supports legislation to keep ARPA-E funded and operating at a high level. In the Senate, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) included a provision reauthorizing ARPA-E in their comprehensive energy bill, the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 (S. 1460). In the House, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) has introduced the ARPA-E Reauthorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 3681), which contains similar language to the Senate provision.

Women in Manufacturing’s Impact: Yesterday, Today and the Future

By | General, Manufacturing Institute | No Comments

As I think about iconic manufacturing women in history, I think about how much we have accomplished and how much potential we have to grow. Some of the greatest inventors, creators and leaders in this world are women. In 1871, Margaret Knight was awarded her first patent for a machine that cut, folded and glued flat-bottomed paper shopping bags. In 1903, Mary Anderson invented and patented the windshield wiper. In 1908, Melitta Bentz received a patent for the coffee filter system. And in 1942, Hedy Lamarr invented a remote-controlled communications system for the U.S. military during World War II. Her frequency hopping theory now serves as a basis for modern communication technology, like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. These women were preceded and followed by many more.

These women before me have forged a path for my career and success in this industry. I have always been fascinated by how things work, so I intentionally sought a career at a manufacturing company whose products transform the world. It’s helped me to understand the impact of industry beyond our national doorstep. One of the best things about my job is touring our facilities and watching raw materials become products; I am still awed by the deep science and engineering collaboration that allow Arconic’s innovations to emerge. That is the feeling I want every girl sitting in a science or math class to know—that each of them can help invent the next frontier of technology.

As chair of the 2018 STEP Ahead Awards, I recognize the significant impact present-day women have made on this industry. Over the past five years, STEP Ahead Award winners have impacted more than 300,000 individuals, from peers in the industry to school-aged children. With that alone, we know these STEP Ahead women have played a part in attracting, retaining and advancing high-quality female talent in manufacturing, laying the groundwork for future visionaries, trendsetters and go-getters.

While there is an underrepresentation of women in the industry, I firmly believe that women will continue to rise to the occasion and create greatness—just as we have for centuries. Where would we be without the Hedy Lamarr’s or the Margaret Knight’s of the world? Where would we be without these thought leaders and innovators that have changed our lives as we know it? I am proud to be a part of an industry where women have played a significant part in shaping our current livelihood and will shape the future.

NAM and Pfizer Prescribe New Campaign to Close the ‘Skills Gap’

By | General, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

FOR IMMEDIATE                                                                             RELEASE CONTACT: NAM Media Relations

New Medicine to Protect the American Dream: ‘Creators Wanted’ in Manufacturing 

NAM and Pfizer Prescribe New Campaign to Close the ‘Skills Gap’

Washington, D.C., September 4, 2017 – With more than 3.5 million manufacturing job openings expected over the next decade, according to the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) affiliate, The Manufacturing Institute, the NAM and Pfizer today unveiled a nationwide media campaign as part of the NAM’s “Creators Wanted” initiative. The national campaign is a sustained effort to answer manufacturers’ workforce challenges by enhancing perceptions of modern manufacturing careers through advertising, digital targeting and storytelling about the people who represent the present and future of the industry.

The campaign features Pfizer colleagues at the company’s site in Kalamazoo, Michigan, showcasing for parents and students what’s achievable through modern manufacturing careers in the biopharmaceutical industry. The unprecedented attention on manufacturing in America—by political leaders and the press—has raised the stakes for America’s leading innovation industry to compete for talent and to spotlight the growing number of opportunities for lifelong careers in modern manufacturing.

“There are myths about manufacturing that we need to dispel,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “This is more than a public relations campaign. ‘Creators Wanted’ is an urgent call to action to inspire kids and their parents to see modern manufacturing anew. Too many Americans have lost confidence that they can lead lives that will exceed the dreams of their grandparents or that hard work pays off in the end. Modern manufacturing can unlock the potential of our people and our country—if parents and kids see what our jobs offer in terms of pay, career longevity, excitement and reward.

“For years, Pfizer has been a company that extends its work and investment far beyond its own interests—to lift up our industry and our people. Pfizer has been a valued partner of the NAM, helping us to be a forceful voice for manufacturing in the United States and the workforce solutions the industry needs. We are grateful to Pfizer again for stepping up and leading by example.”

The campaign is the first showcase of stories by a biopharmaceutical company to the NAM’s “Creators Wanted” initiative. In the eight months since the initiative’s launch, the campaign’s social media efforts have reached nearly 1 million individuals. “Creators Wanted” has brought together some of America’s top innovative brands and small manufacturers to demonstrate that modern manufacturing offers careers that are well-paid, highly skilled and diverse. Manufacturing careers allow individuals to raise their standard of living and make products that have a positive impact in their communities and beyond.

“As a U.S.-based, global leader in the discovery and manufacture of lifesaving medicines, Pfizer is proud to partner with the NAM on this important initiative,” said Kirsten Lund-Jurgensen, Executive Vice President and President, Pfizer Global Supply. “Our Pfizer Global Supply team—which includes skilled tradespeople, production colleagues, line operators, process engineers, quality control professionals, engineers, chemists and countless others—is committed to manufacturing high-quality medicines and making them available to patients when and where they are needed. Our colleagues are changing lives and saving lives, each and every day. I am inspired by our shared mission and honored to see our colleagues’ dedication and commitment highlighted through this program.”

As part of the NAM–Pfizer partnership, the campaign will drive attention to the stories of the Pfizer Kalamazoo “creators” and encourage parents and students to see firsthand what modern manufacturing looks like on Manufacturing Day, October 6, 2017, at the Pfizer site in Sanford, North Carolina.

“Unless we change minds about manufacturing, we will have more than 2 million jobs unfilled over the next 10 years,” said Manufacturing Institute Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “Manufacturing Day and ‘Creators Wanted’ are our chance to turn the tide to convince parents and students we need the next generation and we have a lot to offer.”

For more information, visit www.creatorswanted.org.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12 million men and women, contributes $2.17 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic impact of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

About The Manufacturing Institute

The Manufacturing Institute (the Institute) is the 501(c)(3) affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers. As a nonpartisan organization, the Institute is committed to delivering leading-edge information and services to the nation’s manufacturers. The Institute is the authority on the attraction, qualification and development of world-class manufacturing talent. For more information, please visit www.themanufacturinginstitute.org.

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