Upjohn: Every $1 invested in Manufacturing Extension Partnership program yields nearly $9 in return

A recent study by the W.E. Upjohn Institute finds that the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program generates a substantial economic and financial return on investment for the federal government. The $130 million invested in MEP during FY2016 by the federal government generated more than $1.1 billion in increased federal personal income tax, a ROI of roughly 8.7:1, according to Upjohn.

Additive manufacturing roadmap released to create industry standards

America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) have released Standardization Roadmap for Additive Manufacturing (Version 1.0) to help coordinate and accelerate the development of industry-wide additive manufacturing standards and specifications. In the roadmap, the authors highlight 89 gaps – 19 of which are high priority – where no published standard or specification currently exists to addr

SMMs cite employee recruitment as major issue

In 2016, approximately 46.7 percent of small- and medium-sized manufacturing firms (SMMs) receiving services from Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers expect challenges in the next three years related to employee recruitment, up from 19.1 percent in 2009, according to a recent survey of MEP client companies. While employee recruitment needs have grown over the last seven years, the top two challenges remained the same – cost reduction (70 percent of all respondents in 2016) and growth (53.5 percent). The findings come from an annual NIST MEP survey of their clients – small manufacturers across the United States.

The culprit behind manufacturing job losses

Before, during, and since the 2016 presidential election, there has been considerable discussion on whether trade or automation is responsible for America’s long-term loss in manufacturing employment. A December New York Times article highlights several examples of studies finding automation has been the key perpetrator. Recent research from Adams Nager of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), however, pins the problem on trade and competition. ITIF suggests that roughly two-thirds of the 5.7 million U.S. manufacturing jobs lost between 2000 and 2010 were a result of international trade pressure and wavering U.S. competitiveness. As economist Paul Krugman recently noted, accounts stating that either trade or automation are the cause can both be accurate and are not necessarily contradictory.

Report collects clean energy manufacturing policies across US

While states implement policies to spur innovation, manufacturing and other priorities related to clean energy, there was no single source serving as a collection of all such policies across the 50 states. The recently released Clean Energy-Related Economic Development Policy across the States: Establishing a 2016 Baseline by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) aims to establish a baseline of existing policy as “a critical first step in determining the potential holistic impact of these policies on driving economic growth in a state.” It focuses on the policies most directly related to expanding new and existing manufacturing.

$80 million awarded for Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh will be home to the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing (ARM) Innovation Hub, the newest member of the Manufacturing USA network. The U.S. Department of Defense announced that American Robotics, Inc., an independent nonprofit spun out of Carnegie Mellon University will receive roughly $80 million in federal funding to launch the institute, matched with $173 million in support from the university and a consortium representing approximately 120 industry partners, 40 academic institutions and 60 non-profit and government entities.

New manufacturing hubs awarded in NY, NH

Two new hubs have been announced in the Manufacturing USA network, one focusing on sustainable manufacturing innovation and the other on tissue biofabrication, bringing the total network of institutes to 13 since its inception four years ago.

$70 Million Awarded to New Biopharmaceuticals Institute

The National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL) becomes the eleventh institute in the Manufacturing USA network, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced last week. The $70 million award marks the first institute with a focus area proposed by industry and the first funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC).

Funding Feedback Needed at NIST

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is requesting feedback on a 2017 funding opportunity that will allow the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Centers and their partners to add capabilities to the MEP program, including projects to solve new or emerging manufacturing problems. Small and medium-sized U.S. manufacturers are encouraged to send information about their needs in four areas: critical manufacturing technologies; supply chain; potential business services, including information services; and other technologies or services that would enhance global competition. NIST also requests recommendations for other critical issues that it should consider in strategic planning for future investments. More information can be found here. Responses will be accepted through Jan. 13, 2017.

Manufacturing Competitiveness Relies on Talent

The U.S. ranks second on a global manufacturing competitiveness index, according to the 2016 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index by research firm Deloitte Global and the Council on Competitiveness. The U.S. ranking has improved in each of the past studies and is poised to take over that top spot from China by 2020, the study maintains. However, executives from across the world in responding to the study, noted that talent is the leading factor in determining manufacturing competitiveness, and finding and cultivating that talent is a topic that has received increasing attention from the manufacturing sector. While such rankings provide an interesting focal point, their real value lies in the discussion and attention focused on the subject matter. SSTI recently interviewed several leading thinkers on the subject, finding common calls for changing the approach to the talent pipeline in manufacturing, as well as a cautionary note on rankings.


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