advanced manufacturing Archives - Shopfloor

Manufacturers: Help Wanted!

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Manufacturing and jobs were central issues in the presidential election, but what many Americans don’t realize is that manufacturers are looking for skilled workers right now. What’s more, we are expected to have many more job openings over the next decade. As many as 2 million jobs could go unfilled if we don’t start equipping people with the high-tech skills that manufacturing demands.

National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons outlined the stakes and the path forward in a recent Fortune op-ed.

America is failing our youth if we do not equip them with the skills required for innovative manufacturing. Manufacturing careers pay about $15,000 more than the rest of the private sector, and manufacturing can provide job security and upward mobility like no other industry.

This is good news for working families at a time when some have lost faith in the American dream and are questioning our very system of free enterprise. But we should not give up; we should not lose hope. Strategic investment in education and training will carry us toward our goal.

It’s going to take all of us to forge the path forward, and many manufacturing companies are rising to the challenge. Check out this video, the third episode of FutureWork, featuring Dennis Parker, the founder of Toyota’s Advanced Manufacturing Technician Program, as he visits shop floors and explains the importance of, and opportunities available in, manufacturing careers.


Senators Join NAM at Advanced Manufacturing Event

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Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) addresses the Science and Technology Caucus as Dr. George Thompson of Intel Corporation and Julie Christodoulou of the Office of Naval Research look on.

Representatives from the business community, academia, both sides of Capitol Hill, and think tanks recently packed the Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building to hear a panel of industry and government experts discuss the importance of advanced manufacturing to U.S. growth. NAM-member companies Verizon and Intel joined representatives from the Departments of Defense and Energy on a panel that talked about the benefits of advanced materials and their widespread use throughout the public and private sector.

The honorary host of this NAM-organized event was the bipartisan Senate Science and Technology Caucus. Co-Chairs Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Mark Udall (D-CO) opened the event and highlighted the importance of technology in manufacturing.

The panel of industry and government experts all agreed that our country has embraced manufacturing as critical to economic growth—and that policymakers need to do the same. The overarching message was that leveraging the development of advanced materials in products and processes will benefit our global leadership position by reducing manufacturing and raw material costs.

Americans unknowingly reap the benefits of advanced materials every day.  They are used in everything from cellphones to semiconductors and spur health care solutions, improve transportation and enhance public safety. They bolster high-tech innovation and enhance national security.  Manufacturers, in partnership with government and academia, drive efforts to discover advanced materials and rapidly integrate them in their products and processes. As clearly demonstrated at this event, this proven and successful partnership will continue to foster manufacturing growth and job creation.

Peter Davidson of Verizon Communications speaks to the Science and Technology in the Russell Senate Office Building.

Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) addresses the Science and Technology Caucus.

Manufacturing in the State of the State Addresses: North Dakota

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January is the month for governors to deliver State of the State addresses, and again this year we’ll highlight the sections of their speeches that discuss manufacturing.

While new governors have already delivered their inaugural addresses, the first State of the State speech we find comes from North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who was sworn in last month to the office as Gov. John Hoeven resigned to take a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Unlike other states, North Dakota faces no budget crisis — unless you count the potential of overspending as a crisis — thanks largely to the amazing oil and gas boom from development of the Bakken Formation (and high agricultural commodity prices). Economic growth and a 3.8 percent unemployment rate make for more positive rhetoric than we’re likely to see from, for example, in today’s speech from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Dalrymple acknowledged energy’s important contributions in his speech, delivered Tuesday to a joint session of the North Dakota Legislature in Bismarck.

The energy industry has long provided a major opportunity for job growth.  To foster that growth, we have promoted the development of all forms of energy, traditional and renewable. For instance, in the oil and gas industry we facilitated a dramatic expansion in transportation infrastructure.  By expanding our pipelines and rail transportation, we’ve doubled capacity from 230,000 barrels of oil per day in 2007 to nearly 460,000 barrels in 2010.  This obviously is a critical element in expanding the job opportunities in the energy industry.

Jim Arthaud saw opportunity in our growing oil and gas industry. He and other family members established Missouri Basin Well Service with one truck in 1979.  Today, the oilfield logistics company is the largest private employer in Stark County with 500 employees, 130 contract workers, 200 company trucks and 150 leased trucks. Their company transports oil, sand, water and other oilfield products throughout western North Dakota.  When we talk about developing the energy industry for North Dakota, we’re talking about entrepreneurs like Jim Arthaud and his family.  Jim, please stand so we can thank you for all those jobs.

Dalrymple, a Republican, also discussed the state’s emphasis on technology, tourism, and value-added agriculture as target industries. The other, advanced manufacturing, is sought because “here state-of-the-art equipment provides not only greater efficiency but also higher-paying jobs that require advanced skills learned in North Dakota.”

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From Maryland, Indiana: Local Manufacturing Advances

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From Gazette.net, the suburban D.C./Maryland newspapers, “From wires to spices, a comeback“:

The economic downturn that staggered the state’s manufacturing sector might have bottomed out, as executives say they could be approaching the end of the tunnel.

“The dark clouds are starting to clear and business is improving,” said Matthew McCabe, vice president of sales and marketing for The Crowley Co. in Frederick, which manufactures high-end microform scanning equipment through one of its companies, Mekel Technologies.

From the JournalGazette.net, the website of the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette, “Manufacturing becoming ‘advanced’“:

David Holt, a spokesman for Conexus, at first struggled to define “advanced manufacturing,” saying it might apply to any manufacturer that uses some robotics or any other automated process.

After some research, Holt gave this definition: “methods of manufacturing products using robotics, intelligent systems, efficient processes and management techniques, coupled with support from highly skilled and educated people.”

By that definition, most northeast Indiana manufacturers are becoming advanced manufacturers, Holt said.

But by any definition, “advanced manufacturing” means higher productivity, or that it takes fewer workers to make the same amount of product. That’s a trend that must continue if U.S. manufacturers are to compete in the global marketplace, said Mac Parker, president of the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce Foundation Inc.

“In order to compete with the lower wages overseas, you have to have higher productivity,” Parker said. “And to have higher productivity, you have to have automation.”

The Journal Gazette illustrates the issue by talking to Fort Wayne Metals, an industrial wire maker that now manufactures wire for medical devices and surgical procedures, e.g., leads for pacemakers.

WH Seeks Input on Bigger Federal Role in Advanced Manufacturing

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From the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy:

Posted by Deborah Stine on April 07, 2010 at 02:52 PM EDT
Today, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) launched a website to gather public opinion on the future of advanced manufacturing. We hope you will join the conversation at http://pcast.ideascale.com.

PCAST is an advisory group of the nation’s leading scientists and engineers, appointed by the President to augment the science and technology advice available to him from inside the White House and from cabinet departments and other federal agencies. One topic it is currently addressing is advanced manufacturing. PCAST has a number of questions regarding advanced manufacturing that could best be answered with the help of public input. PCAST asks that you provide responses to any or all of the following questions by 5:00 p.m. EDT Tuesday, April 20, 2010.

Many questions follow to encourage comments, fitting under the categories:

  • Support for new manufacturing technologies
  • Support for new manufacturing firms
  • Support for existing manufacturing firms
  • A national manufacturing strategy

Although, for the sake of accuracy, the categories might be better listed as:

  • Federal support for new manufacturing technologies
  • Federal support for new manufacturing firms
  • Federal support for existing manufacturing firms
  • A national manufacturing strategy directed by the federal government.

The premise, it appears to us, is that industrial policy is a given and it should be directed more toward applied R&D. An informed debate would also consider the question: How would reducing the federal government’s role in the private sector encouraging advanced manufacturing?