Category

Innovation

Advance Regulatory Policies to Encourage a 21st Century Rail Network

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

Since their inception, railroads have paved the way for American industrialization, safely transporting freight across the country with an efficiency and speed never before imagined possible. The American rail network has driven some of our most consequential economic developments, using that innovation to improve millions of lives. Now, groundbreaking advances in automation and analytics are opening yet another exciting frontier for rail—one that, with the right approach from D.C. policymakers, and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in particular, can once again redefine the world of transportation.

To craft a technology-friendly regulatory strategy, FRA need simply look to its peer agencies in the automotive sector. The recent flurry of innovation in autonomous vehicle technology is progressing thanks in large part to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) “light touch” regulatory approach toward testing and deploying these new technologies. Despite the fact that all real-world testing carries some initial risk, DOT has not allowed misconceptions to stand in the way of progress and the long-term safety benefits of autonomous vehicles. The same approach that is working there will work for rail as well.

While rare, one-third of train accidents are caused by human error, many of which will be eliminated by integrating automated processes into rail operations. Further, the deployment of autonomous technology is easier in the rail industry given that railroads operate on separate fixed tracks. In a world where DOT has vigorously supported the automation of millions of interacting cars and trucks, FRA’s support for similar—and simpler—opportunities to automate many different aspects of rail operations is an attractive and less controversial way to facilitate analogous rail-safety benefits.

Encouragingly, FRA made progress last April when it issued a request for information on automation in the rail industry. In response, Norfolk Southern provided substantive insights into the many technologies available to automate various aspects of our network—from locomotives and dispatch, to yard operations and inspections. We look forward to the next steps and urge FRA to promote the safety benefits of such technologies by issuing guidance that encourages railroads and third-party technology vendors to pursue innovation.

At Norfolk Southern, we are firmly committed to developing high-tech tools that will undeniably improve the safety and efficiency of our operations. Indeed, automated and predictive technologies can help open a new world of operational improvements, and we are working hard every day to realize these benefits and reimagine a safer, more reliable future for freight transportation. Yet we simply cannot unlock the full potential of this new technology without a 21st century regulatory environment that facilitates private innovation.

Just as it has throughout our country’s history, the rail industry is leveraging technology to surge towards transportation’s new technological horizon. By following the lead of other DOT agencies and regulating in a flexible, outcome-based manner, FRA can accelerate this technological progress, helping to dynamically transform the freight-rail industry and creating a safer system and a more efficient transportation network for 21st century manufacturers

NAM Testimony: The U.S. Must Protect Manufacturers’ Intellectual Property

By | General, Innovation | No Comments

Innovation and intellectual property are the backbone of the manufacturing industry, and America is a global leader on these issues. In 2015, value-added from IP was nearly 40 percent of total U.S. gross domestic product. And according to the latest data, the U.S. is responsible for more than one-quarter of all research and development conducted globally. This leadership also puts our businesses and ideas in the crosshairs of bad actors that would rather cheat than compete.

That’s why I testified today on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers before the Special 301 Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee on the need to protect manufacturers’ innovation and intellectual property rights. I also highlighted from our written submission countries the NAM believes should receive Priority Watch List and Watch List designations for their market-distorting actions that harm innovative manufacturers – including top priority countries such as Canada, China, Chile, Colombia, India, Indonesia and Russia, and additional countries of concern such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea and South Africa.

My testimony focused specifically on three main threats facing manufacturers’ IP and the global context that makes this a critical opportunity for setting new precedents moving forward. First, our competitors are using international organizations (like the World Health Organization and others) to weaken IP protections. Second, and similarly, foreign countries have expanded their use of unbounded compulsory licensing and other limitations that harm innovation as protectionist excuses to promote or protect local manufacturing or to damage U.S. interests. Finally, rampant counterfeiting and piracy has stolen the successes of innovators and undercut manufacturers across industries.

These are only three leading threats facing our IP—there are plenty more putting manufacturers’ innovation and U.S. jobs at risk. That’s why the U.S. has spent decades building a strong domestic legal framework to protect and enforce manufacturers’ IP and pushing for stronger global protection and enforcement of IP rights, but, as I said during my testimony, we must do more. We must strategically use Special 301-related tools available, such as country classifications, out-of-cycle reviews, results-oriented action plans and existing legislative authorities to protect manufacturers’ innovative products and ideas—and we should use this critical moment to set new precedents moving forward.

As Congress moves to consider the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement and the administration seeks new bilateral trade deals with the UK, China, Japan and others—must not waste this opportunity. The USMCA, for example, includes best-in-class IP rules to protect the full range of U.S. manufacturing inventions and innovations from foreign theft or misappropriation.

On behalf of the NAM, I urged the administration to seize this moment and to create a fairer and more enforceable trade network that promotes and protects American innovation. That starts with protecting our trade secrets and IP.

Next Generation Broadband: Making Regulations Work for Innovation

By | Infrastructure, Innovation, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

Later this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on a proposal to modernize existing regulations to speed the deployment of next generation wireless across the country. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr recently unveiled a plan to support the buildout of 5G, noting the need “to update our rules to match this revolutionary new technology.” Manufacturers agree and support Commissioner Carr’s proposal, along with a similar effort in the Senate with Chairman John Thune’s (R-SD) STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act (S. 3157).

Existing regulations for broadband infrastructure were designed for the technology of previous generations of wireless, which required siting decisions for 200-foot towers that would transmit signals over large swaths of land. Next generation broadband will be delivered through multiple “small cells”—devices that are much less intrusive and more much more numerous. The FCC’s plan would cut through a complex web of hurdles at the local level that could delay 5G buildout. It would ensure cities and towns charge reasonable fees, and it would shorten the shot clock for local regulators to act on build-out requests, while maintaining a role for local control over aspects of small cell placement decisions.

Next generation wireless broadband will unlock further innovation across the manufacturing ecosystem. The Internet of Things has transformed the way manufacturers do business, and today’s shop floors are quickly developing and deploying emerging technologies. Manufacturing operations are more data intensive than ever before. Improved processing speeds and increased wireless capacity with 5G will lead to advancements in data-heavy tasks, like those associated with connected devices and Artificial Intelligence.

The private sector is already investing in broadband infrastructure and the innovations that will be powered by 5G technology. Federal policymakers can help by ensuring the regulatory framework keeps pace with the evolving nature of mobile technology. We applaud Commissioner Carr and the Senate’s STREAMLINE Act sponsors for advancing proposals to clear the way for next generation broadband innovation.

Protect Pennsylvania’s Innovators

By | Innovation | No Comments

A recent analysis by the National Association of Manufacturers shows Pennsylvania manufacturers are innovators and essential drivers of the state’s economy. In fact, in 2015, total output from manufacturing in the state was more than $85 billion, employing 566,000 Pennsylvanians.

Unfortunately, one proposal up for consideration in the Pennsylvania Senate and currently being considered would jeopardize the industry’s success. The proposal would establish a Pharmaceutical Transparency Commission and require manufacturers in the biopharmaceutical industry to disclose proprietary business information, such as research and development (R&D) costs and production and marketing expenses. While the legislation’s intent of lowering health care costs is very important, the unintended consequences would put Pennsylvania’s manufacturers at a serious disadvantage and have very little impact on health care costs.

R&D is critical for manufacturers to maintain their competitive edge, especially in Pennsylvania. In 2014 alone, the state’s manufacturing industry spent $10.8 billion on R&D, ranking it ninth nationally. As a manufacturer, if you aren’t investing in research and continuously innovating, then you are falling behind. Therefore, it is extremely important that manufacturers’ trade secrets are protected.

This is especially true for biopharmaceutical manufacturers creating new medicines, as the research and investment into finding new lifesaving medications is extremely costly, risky and time intensive. Proposed “transparency” legislation does not account for the true costs of R&D and would devastate intellectual property protections, discouraging future investment into critical cures.

However, this legislation would not just harm biopharmaceutical manufacturers; it would send a chilling effect across the entire manufacturing industry. No manufacturer should ever be forced to disclose the sensitive information that contributes to its success. Innovation is the lifeblood of manufacturing, and it should be protected at all costs. Pennsylvania manufacturers need strong intellectual property protections to continue to innovate, create jobs and succeed in the marketplace.

Price Controls Harm Innovation and Interfere with Competitive Markets

By | Innovation, intellectual property, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Some members of the Oregon legislature continue to propose unwieldy requirements and burdensome rebates on manufacturers of pharmaceuticals in an effort to cap drug prices. These efforts will not “control” the price of drugs for consumers but will instead create scenarios that will likely limit choice, restrict supply and increase costs. Moreover, price controls discourage innovation and act as a disincentive for robust research and development (R&D) efforts.

While rising health care costs are a significant concern for Americans, there are very few examples in history where price controls have worked for a full segment of the population. Artificially setting prices does not take into account all of the costs and factors that go into creating a new product, such as numerous failed clinical trials or drugs whose revenue fail to cover development costs. Price controls distort incentives in the market and result in product shortages, which could ultimately increase future health care costs.

Lawmakers must consider carefully the negative impacts of imposing price controls and diminishing any intellectual property protections. Attempts to jeopardize all of the investment and years of work associated with the creation of new medicines and products will discourage R&D and innovation—all at the expense of manufacturers’ competitiveness and the future well-being of patients. As the legislative session winds down in Salem, we urge elected officials to be mindful of these adverse impacts.

Protect Innovation and the Advancement of New Medicines

By | Innovation, intellectual property, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Today, the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee will mark up the FDA Reauthorization Act (FDARA) of 2017 (H.R. 2430). To ensure this critical legislation passes Congress far ahead of a September 30 deadline, manufacturers urge swift action by the committee to keep H.R. 2430 on schedule. Any delay of the FDARA risks future gains in medical discovery and harm to our global standing.

In a March letter to E&C Health Subcommittee members, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) expressed strong support for a timely reauthorization of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act of 2017.

The FDA’s user fee program is the ultimate publicprivate partnership. If approved, this agreement will help the federal government and pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers continue to drive innovation and usher in competition to bring new and groundbreaking therapies to patients.

Manufacturers urge members of the E&C Committee to support FDARA and avoid any needless risk to public health by opposing drug importation amendments.  Any amendment that eases restrictions on the importation of medicines is a distraction. The NAM opposed a similar importation effort in the Senate earlier this year in a key vote letter because it could expose consumers to counterfeit and adulterated therapies. The focus must be on the advancement of new medicines and treatments as well as unambiguous support for scientific innovation by ensuring the FDARA moves forward unimpeded.

Bipartisan Bill Focused on Growing IoT Introduced Today

By | Innovation, Shopfloor Policy, Technology | No Comments

Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the NAM-supported Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things (DIGIT) Act today. This legislation creates a strategic partnership between manufacturers and the public sector focused on fostering the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). The National Association of Manufacturers looks forward to working with both the House and Senate to move this bipartisan bill. Read More

Competing to Win: How to Accelerate Manufacturing Innovation

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

Autonomous vehicles. Smart phones. Lifesaving medicines. All are made possible by the innovation of manufacturers. Technology is transforming the manufacturing industry, and the manufacturing industry is transforming our world.

Manufacturers in the United States perform more than three-quarters of all private-sector research and development (R&D) in the nation, driving more innovation than any other sector, changing our society and helping Americans live better lives. But our continued progress is not guaranteed. We need our leaders to embrace policies that encourage innovation—not stand in its way—because a country that can’t invent can’t lead.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has laid manufacturers’ technology policy priorities in a new blueprint, as part of our “Competing to Win” agenda:

  • Enable a regulatory and legislative climate that creates the conditions for discovering the next great life-changing inventions.
  • Secure those inventions by protecting the intellectual property rights of manufacturers.
  • Partner with the industry in the area of cybersecurity but not through the creation of a new and unnecessary regulatory regime.
  • Encourage the growth of connected technology when they consider updating our telecommunications laws.

The technologies embraced by manufacturers in the 21st century are improving business models, transforming customer relationships and re-inventing the world. Policymakers in Washington now must decide whether they will accelerate, or stand in the way, of a new economy that innovates and works better for everyone.

This blog is part of the NAM’s 12 Days of Transition series, an effort to provide the presidential transition team and other Washington policymakers with a roadmap to bolster manufacturing in the United States. Read the other blogs in the series here.

Impeding the Development of Lifesaving Products Is What’s Really “Dangerous”

By | Health Care, Innovation, Presidents Blog, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

If you’re following debates in the Senate, you may have heard Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and others refer to one important piece of pending legislation, the 21st Century Cures Act, as “corrupt” and “dangerous.”

Well, she certainly got my attention. But what is really alarming is that Sen. Warren’s attack is baseless. In fact, the effort to derail the 21st Century Cures Act is what is really dangerous—and alarming.

Here’s why:

Manufacturers of medical devices and pharmaceuticals save lives and improve the human condition. Their breakthroughs in scientific advances and technological innovations create jobs for scientists and researchers as well as machinists and those on the manufacturing line.

Their work is essential to both the health of our families and our economy.

Unfortunately, due to an outdated federal device and drug approval process, manufacturers in the United States face burdensome costs and unnecessary delays in the development of innovative, lifesaving products.

The 21st Century Cures legislation works to address these challenges. It will modernize our approach to the discovery, development and delivery of medical innovations to ensure that the United States maintains its rightful position of leadership in the global economy at a time when foreign competitors are catching up.

This bill, which represents a bipartisan negotiation in the House and Senate, has been significantly debated over the past two years. The act focuses on important investments in basic research that will lead to further advancement in the development of treatments and products, help fight diseases and other chronic conditions and allow for small business flexibility to provide health care options to employees.

In addition, the legislation also includes a fix to the Affordable Care Act that will allow small businesses to use Health Reimbursement Arrangements to provide health care options for their employees, a practice that is currently heavily fined by the IRS.

Attempts to call this effort “corrupt” and “dangerous” are baseless and more about making points based on political rhetoric, completely ignoring the positive and much needed provisions of the legislation.

Too much progress is at stake. Americans should hold Sen. Warren accountable for attempting to hold up these much needed medical advances—all to score political points.

Share