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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NAM Continues to Spread the Word on IP Theft

If you are reading this blog post it likely means you care about how intellectual property theft puts manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage. Well, the NAM cares strongly about this issue too. As part of our ongoing efforts to educate the public on the high premium manufacturers place on the value of IT to their business, the NAM is participating in a panel discussion tomorrow on the impact of information technology theft and what tactics State Attorney Generals (AG) are using to combat it. You are welcome to listen in via the live webcast.

Information technology (IT) and intellectual property (IP) theft directly harms manufacturers and compromises American competitiveness.  The American Bar Association (ABA) is sponsoring this panel discussion on innovative enforcement actions designed to curb unfair competition from manufacturers that use stolen technology. The panelists include former FTC Chair Bill Kovacic, the NAM’s Tiffany Adams, and Emilio Varanini from the California Department of Justice. The panel will be moderated by Rob McKenna, the former Washington state AG.

As a leading member of the National Alliance for Jobs & Innovation (NAJI), the NAM’s participation in the panel continues our efforts to support initiatives that level the competitive playing field for manufacturers in the US. We encourage you to join us or listen in.

The event is Wednesday, June 26, from 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. There is no charge for the event.

Click here for more information and to register.


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Technology Is Driving Manufacturing Innovation

As the manufacturing army descended upon Washington this week for the 2013 NAM Manufacturing Summit, one of the key issues discussed with policymakers is the need to improve America’s infrastructure. Additional investment in our nation’s infrastructure, in particular our communications and broadband infrastructure is necessary.

A modern and advanced infrastructure will help drive our nation’s innovation and economy forward, especially when it comes to manufacturing.

“Manufacturing is driving technology, and technology and innovation drive manufacturing,” said NAM Technology Policy Subcommittee Chair and Verizon Vice President of Entertainment and Tech Policy Eric Fitzgerald Reed. “Machine-to-machine (M2M) technology and the Internet of Things are increasingly relevant and important components of manufacturers’ operations, including global supply chains. The manufacturing community is bringing all aspects of the Internet ecosystem together from different sectors of the economy to ensure robust broadband infrastructure is in place so businesses can thrive and grow.”

Verizon has launched two innovation centers located in San Francisco, CA and Waltham, MA to help spur innovation, build collaborative partnerships with other NAM member companies and create cutting-edge technology solutions.

It’s important that members of Congress understand that everyone from manufacturers to policymakers, need to work together if we are going to build the infrastructure systems that allow manufacturers to compete and create jobs.


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STEM and Innovation Bound Together at Texas Instruments

Like many students, I thought of Texas Instruments as a student’s best friend when trying to navigate the complexities of high level math and science courses – enabling us to take on rigorous work that likely would have gone over our heads without the technology they provided.

But as a student, I was unaware of TI’s depth of commitment to STEM education and developing new technologies. It’s a commitment with long tradition that remains unwavering to this day.

Yesterday, TI Chairman, President and CEO Rich Templeton delivered the keynote address at a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) event to discuss how critical university research is to America’s future.

The next generation of American innovation is intrinsically tied to the next generation of our workforce – and Mr. Templeton hit the nail on the head when saying, “”The leading companies were founded in the U.S. because many of the best minds in the world were attracted to our research universities and wanted to come here to work with the best and work on the best.”

The NAM is in total agreement with Mr. Templeton’s focus on the recent NAS study titled, “Research Universities and the Future of America.” He highlighted the importance of strengthening government support for science funding at the federal and state levels, strengthening university partnerships with business and building talent especially in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, through improved kindergarten through 12th-grade (K-12) education, stable funding for graduate research, and high-skilled immigration reform.

America innovation is only as good as the men and women working to develop a future we have yet to imagine – and leading companies like Texas Instruments are helping pave the way for a brighter tomorrow by pushing for STEM education today.

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Applied Materials Puts Advanced Manufacturing On Display for President Obama

President Obama took his “Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour” to Texas today and toured NAM member Applied Materials in Austin to see one of its semiconductor manufacturing lines and deliver remarks on making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing. Applied Materials is the world’s largest maker of chip manufacturing equipment — building the advanced machines that create computer chips for the products that power our lives.

Applied Materials has some of the most cutting edge, high tech facilities in the world – a perfect location for the President to talk about making the United States the best place in the world for advanced manufacturing. perform the precise steps that turn silicon wafers into advanced integrated circuits.

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President Focuses on New Manufacturing Innovation – Not New Spending

The President is in Texas today and it is being reported that he plans to announce that he is issuing an Executive Order focused on manufacturing innovation. This is good news. It continues to recognize what the NAM already knows: Manufacturers in the U.S. are the world’s foremost innovators and therefore are driving our economy. It also endorses the NAM’s position that this White House initiative can be accomplished with existing funding and not increase the deficit.

Today’s announcement follows through on the President’s commitment, made in his State of the Union address earlier this year, to launch three new manufacturing hubs around emerging manufacturing technologies. The existing hub launched as a pilot in Youngstown, OH is centered on additive manufacturing and is being led by many NAM member companies. The competition for the next three institutes are said to focus on digital manufacturing, lightweight and modern metals manufacturing, and manufacturing for next generation power electronics. It is hard to imagine given these areas that NAM’s members will not once again be the innovative brainpower behind these centers as well.

The NAM has been an advocate of this concept. Public-private partnerships bringing together the best minds from industry, academia, the research community, and the government have a proven track record of delivering game-changing innovations in manufacturing products and processes. The NAM has also been clear that now more than ever before these partnerships must be strategic and not lead to wasteful spending. In a recent letter to the U.S Senate we in fact supported an amendment to the Budget resolution that would accelerate the development of advanced manufacturing technologies as long the effort did not add to the deficit.

While it is encouraging that the President continues to bring attention to the power that manufacturing has in job growth and creation the NAM will remain vigilant that any new proposals are fiscally responsible and are in sync with the NAM’s Growth Agenda.

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Tackling a Uniquely 21st Century Problem: How to Tax Digital Goods

During the recent debate in the Senate on the Marketplace Fairness Act, S. 743, another 21st century tax issue popped up, albeit briefly.  We think it’s worth going back to consider an amendment submitted by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) that clarifies the taxation of digital goods and services. This amendment is based on bipartisan legislation the Senator introduced last Congress with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Simply put, digital goods are electronic files sold online. This includes software, manuals in digital form, and images among other products. Digital services include products ranging from cloud computing to alarm monitoring. These are all products and services that may be leveraged by manufacturers to increase the efficiency of their shopfloor, enhance their ability to connect with customers, and help them better manage their supply chain.

When these goods and services are “shipped” online it is not always as simple as traveling from point A to point B. These digital products can actually bounce around to many “locations” in cyberspace all in the blink of an eye. Today’s current tax regime allows multiple states to tax a manufacturer or other taxpayer on just one transaction.

Manufacturers are already under intense economic pressure ranging from global competition and other adverse and unnecessary regulations in the United States. Fixing this statute with Senators Thune and Wyden’s proposal that would eliminate duplicative and discriminatory taxes would increase manufacturers’ ability to compete.

We look forward to working with both chambers on this very targeted issue so that manufacturers have one less obstacle in their way as they continue to lead America’s most innovative industry.

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2013 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) Released

If all the news we shared with you last week on the legislative activity on cybersecurity has you looking for more this week, we call your attention to the release of Verizon’s sixth annual Data Breach Investigation Report just made public. The report commonly referred to as the DBIR analyzed more than 47,000 security incidents and studied more than 600 data breaches. What they found is alarming but should not be surprising to all the manufacturers on the front lines working hard to protect their data every day from theft and intrusion.

Manufacturers know their intellectual property, including patents, product designs, and trade secrets are the envy of their competitors around the world. They are therefore the constant target of cyberthieves attempting to access this critical data. The DBIR in fact found that manufacturing is the highest targeted industry (33%) by those motivated by industrial espionage. The report also provides a wealth of data on where the threats originate, what the motivating factors are, and provides some recommended best practices to help prevent them.

This type of research performed by Verizon and other industry segment leaders is extremely useful to their manufacturing peers and policymakers around the world. In the United States, our government made a good step forward to address the threats outlined in the DBIR when the House of Representatives passed H.R. 624, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) on April 18. The NAM now looks forward to working with the U.S. Senate to ensure similar legislation is passed in that chamber and sent to the President for his signature.

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