SOTU: Innovation Drives Manufacturing Growth

Tonight the President furthered his commitment to manufacturing hubs around the United States, announcing that he plans to place 6 more of them this year.  Manufacturing technology and innovation are the lifeblood behind manufacturing growth, and we have long supported public-private partnership that will spur advancements in manufacturing.

The first two hubs, in Ohio and North Carolina, have the ground floor support and involvement of NAM members and we’re expect that NAM members will continue to lead the way as these hubs progress. We’re committed to continuing working with the Administration on these and other priorities in a fiscally responsible manner.

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ALOM’s Hannah Kain Offers Wisdom to Would-Be Entrepreneurs

ALOM Technologies, is fortunate to have a CEO of vision who has delivered results year after year. Hannah Kain, the company’s founder, has built a business that her customers rave about – and with good reason.

Ms. Kain’s has held various management and executive positions throughout her career and that has led to great success for ALOM. She lends her vast experience and expertise to the NAM as a member of our Board of Directors.

We’ve known about Ms. Kain’s talents for quite a while, but she’s taken her advice public. She was interviewed by where she spoke about the challenges and rewards that come from starting a business. The article offers excellent advice for those looking to follow the path of entrepreneurship and shares where she finds some of her inspiration.

Check it out here and follow Hannah Kain’s advice… “Think BIG!”  Look where it got her.

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Keep the Internet Open for Business

The internet has helped drive manufacturing growth over the last two decades. The NAM witnessed this first-hand just last week at the International Consumer Electronics Show. The innovative ways manufacturers are using internet-based technology was the dominant theme found throughout the more than two million square feet of exhibit space. It was also made very clear by these same manufacturers that any unnecessary regulation of the internet may severely stifle this innovation.

We were pleased to see the D.C. Circuit agree yesterday when it decided that 20th century regulations should not be applied to the internet. NAM member companies have leveraged the internet to grow their business, their product and service offerings, to communicate with their customers and employees, and to revolutionize their shop floors.

For this growth to continue the internet needs to stay open for business and therefore the laws currently governing this space need to be updated. The Court’s decision affirms that telecommunication laws need to be brought into the 21st century in order to foster more innovation in the manufacturing industry. The NAM looks forward to working with Congress as they consider how to modernize our legal and regulatory system to reflect today’s technologies and the way that manufacturers use the internet.

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Spectrum is Rocket Fuel for Manufacturers


At this year’s 2014 Consumer Electronics Show Gary Shapiro, CEO of NAM member Consumer Electronics Association which puts on CES said it was hard to find anything at the show that is not connected to the internet. Cars are embedded with microprocessors and refrigerators can now tell you when you are out of milk. For this communication to happen seamlessly all these innovations need one thing above all else: they need spectrum – or airwaves – to be available.

Manufacturers are well aware of the importance of spectrum availability to their business and their customers. They use it at their facilities, in their products and in their workforce. They have used it to make their enterprises more efficient ranging from advances in machine to machine technology to smart agriculture tools that can remotely tell the moisture and temperature levels of soil. As a panelist from Verizon said this week, there is an “expectation of connectedness” now. In short, manufacturers are dependent on it spectrum being available.

On a panel discussion we heard a representative from Samsung say that spectrum is rocket fuel for innovation. Frankly, given the innovative breakthroughs that manufacturers have pioneered, we think that spectrum is rocket fuel for manufacturing as well. Lawmakers and regulators must understand that any decisions made on spectrum need to include the manufacturing sector.

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Bumper to Bumper: Connected Cars Drive CES

Automobiles are double-parked all over the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show and we are not talking about the cab lines outside the convention center during the world’s largest technology trade show. All the major automakers from around the world have descended on CES to demonstrate the latest in vehicle technology.

From the official car of the 2014 CES, the Ford Mustang to a cherry red Chevrolet Stingray, there is quite a lot of horsepower on display to be sure. But what is a major theme on the show floor is how technology is making drivers safer, conserving fuel, and connecting drivers to the online world.

We saw remarkable heads up displays from Texas Instruments and learned how AT&T is working on conversational speech recognition technology.  Chrysler had its UConnect technology interactive demos. Our mouth was watering over Toyota’s i-Road and the FV2, its future mobility concept.

What we also learned that while far away from Las Vegas, regulators are on the minds of these innovators as they continue to push the envelope. If agencies in Washington, many of them not immersed in the transportation industry, push regulations too far this innovation will be stymied.

The NAM and our newly launched D.A.T.A. Policy Center will work to educate policymakers and the general public how important the connected car is to the growth of manufacturing in the U.S. and that Washington can play a role in ensuring there is no slowing down of this new technology.

Brian Raymond is the NAM’s Director of Technology Policy

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Technology and Manufacturing Intersect at the NAM

Companies from a diverse set of industries converged at the NAM in mid-December to discuss the 2014 plan for the newly created NAM D.A.T.A. Policy Center. During and after the brainstorming session it became even clearer that the intersection of technology and manufacturing was at the corner of 10th and G Street, NW that day.

What we also learned in talking with our members is that those intersections span from Washington to every state in the union and to every country in the world. Manufacturers are the world’s leading innovators and the D.A.T.A. Center is set to launch a series of events in 2014 to showcase that leadership.

NAM members are not wasting any time and are starting the new year off just how they are ending the last one: demonstrating to a global audience just how innovative they are by being a part of the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, January 6 -10 hosted by NAM member the Consumer Electronics Association. The NAM team is on the ground once again this year telling you from the front row what breakthroughs manufacturers are driving for their customers and partners. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and right here on to get up to the minute reports from the show floor.

Manufacturing is a highly-sophisticated industry and a technology leader. CES is just part of that story. The NAM D.A.T.A Center will tell you the entire story throughout 2014 by showcasing NAM member companies, their facilities, solutions, and innovative shopfloors. And while we are excited about what this year has to offer inside the D.A.T.A. center, we still remain committed to our technology policy agenda and making the U.S. the best place in the world to innovate. The D.A.T.A. Center will be an effective educational tool for public officials to better understand the intersection of manufacturing and technology, but at the end of the day, they still have to act. The NAM is committed to working with our leaders to making that happen.

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Abusive Patent Litigation Harmful to Manufacturers

Efforts are currently underway in both the House and Senate to address the issue of abusive patent litigation. As the industry that holds the most number of patents, manufacturers are the targets of many of these lawsuits. The NAM and our members agree: this practice needs to be stopped.

Intellectual property (IP) drives growth across the entire manufacturing ecosystem. From transportation, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, semiconductors, energy, consumer goods, to food and beverage – you name it – all manufacturing industry segments leverage their IP to help them compete in the global marketplace. When there is uncertainty in the protection of that IP or exposure to meritless lawsuits it hurts companies, their employees, and the overall competitiveness of those that manufacturer in the U.S.

Back in 2011, the NAM strongly supported the America Invents Act, a bill signed into law that is now helping to improve the patent application review system and therefore eliminate low-quality patents from being issued. However, filing of questionable lawsuits against patent holders unfortunately continues and more disincentives should be carefully crafted to target those who bring abusive suits. The NAM is pleased to see that Congress is aggressively going after those that abuse the litigation system and attempt to extort manufacturers.

Making the United States the best place in the world to innovate is a keystone of the NAM Growth Agenda. IP is the fuel of the manufacturing innovation engine. As a result, maintaining the ability of manufacturers to protect their IP without the threat of frivolous lawsuits is at the top of NAM’s policy priority list. We looking forward to working with Congress as the legislative process continues to move forward.

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Technology and Manufacturing Intersect at Capitol Hill Hearing Today

The House Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee today had a hearing today titled “Challenges and Opportunities in the 5 GHz Spectrum Band.” Sound technical? Well, it is. Thankfully the panel of experts testifying today helped explain to Congress what lies ahead for a critical intersection of technology and manufacturing.

Witnesses from Toyota, Cisco, Comcast, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) discussed a slice of spectrum, or airwaves, and how the automobile industry is using it to increase driver safety and what impact the deployment of wi-fi in that same slice of airwaves may have on these efforts.

John Kenney, Principal Researcher at the Toyota InfoTechnology Center in Mountain View, CA testified extensively on how vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication is a game-changer that will almost allow drivers to “see” around corners. Toyota along with the rest of the auto industry is “making significant progress towards our ultimate goal of zero casualties from traffic incidents,” Mr. Kenney explained to the committee today.

The NAM is fully aware of the importance of wireless technology to manufacturing. Cisco’s Chief Technology Officer Bob Friday agreed in his testimony when he said “And in manufacturing, workers are using mobile devices to get instantaneous alerts of equipment failure, to control machines remotely and to have real time video conversations with coworkers.”

The issue at hand is what impact the use of more wireless devices will have on this new technology and driver safety innovations. We applaud the Subcommittee, the regulators, and all the segments of the industry that are working together to ensure the extensive amount of innovation already achieved and the existing users of the spectrum are not negatively impacted and that all manufacturers, their customers, and consumers benefit as the process moves forward.

Brian Raymond is Director of Technology Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers

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NAM Talks Innovation: “We’ve Got a Long Way to Go and A Short Time To Get There”

The NAM’s Brian Raymond, director of technology policy, managed to work in a quote from the theme song of “Smokey and the Bandit” today on SAP Radio, broadcast worldwide on Voice America, as he spoke about manufacturing innovation leadership in the United States – and how plenty of other nations are seeking the leadership mantle.

Raymond discussed how manufacturers in the U.S. are leading the economic resurgence.  They know they must adapt or die.  Their shop floors are automated; they already deploy machine-to-machine technology; and they are leveraging big data.  He says government needs to catch up to the real innovators.

Tune in here.

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STEM Education Gets a Boost in Iowa

STEM education is a priority for all manufacturers and the NAM has championed efforts to increase our innovative pipeline. Those efforts begin with leadership, and our immediate past Board Chair, Vermeer Corporation President and CEO Mary Andringa has long been a strong leader in the call for greater STEM education.

An outstanding advocate for manufacturing on all fronts, Mary carries a unique perspective on the need to increase STEM graduates due to her experience in advanced manufacturing. So it’s fitting that yesterday she was named the next Co-Chair of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, a position she’ll hold for the next two years.

After her appointment, Mary commented as to her belief that, “… our state has a great opportunity to make significant progress thanks to the collaborative approach educators in K-12, community colleges, independent colleges and universities have taken toward working with business and government to help Iowa be at the forefront of STEM education.”

Vermeer Corporation is no stranger to education and workforce training. It has been active in working with teachers and education administrative officials across Iowa to boost  STEM opportunities and graduates, along with improved techniques for the class room.

Here at the NAM we know how lucky the Governor’s Council is to be getting Mary as a co-chair. She has always been an outstanding flag bearer for manufacturing and the cause of STEM education is the better for her appointment.

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