Manufacturing in America targets next U.S. industrial evolution
Manufacturing advocates say manufacturing drives innovation; more than 70% of manufacturing leaders are optimistic about their own company’s future; mechatronics graduates start at $50,000; liberal arts average $43,000 to start.
More manufacturing jobs are returning to U.S. shores while new innovation “hubs” are being created across the nation. The manufacturing sector is undergoing an evolution where innovation and manufacturing are merging, driving product and process innovation, across the globe and particularly in the U.S. “This is making industry more competitive and taking productivity and efficiency to levels never experienced before,” said Helmuth Ludwig, CEO of Siemens Industry Sector, North America.
“This industrial evolution is highly based on software, and companies that have embraced this concept are experiencing a shorter time-to-market through efficient innovation cycles and enhanced flexibility using more data to individualize mass production. Advanced manufacturing is an important part of Siemens’ growth, and will provide the U.S. an edge in the future of our manufacturing sector,” Ludwig said, commenting on the kickoff of the Siemens “Manufacturing in America: Making Things Right” Thought Leadership Tour, events designed to explore the trends shaping America’s next industrial evolution, and the challenges that still exist.
More than 2,000 individuals joined the April 23 online “America’s New Manufacturing” forum, presented by Washington Post Live and sponsored by Siemens, Northern Virginia Technology Council, and the American Small Manufacturers Coalition. The forum assembled government officials and leading industry experts to discuss the new era in manufacturing, expanding manufacturing hubs, trends in manufacturing, workforce training, innovations, and advanced technology.
Related research, according to Siemens, examines tactical (hiring, improvement programs, and technology) and strategic (capital investments, supplier re-alignment, new product development) trends related to the manufacturing renaissance. According to the study, more than 70% of manufacturing leaders are optimistic about their own company’s future. Other Siemens thought leadership events will be held in Chicago May 17 with MAPI (Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation), Los Angeles, June 11, New Orleans, June 24-27, and New York, July 16.
Innovation via manufacturing
Ludwig said innovation and manufacturing must be aligned, but it is often not the best strategy to “design it here—make it there.” Only a close connection of innovation and manufacturing allows manufacturers to drive product and process innovation, he said.
According to Ron Bloom, senior advisor, Lazard, and former assistant to the president for manufacturing policy, the manufacturing sector should find a means to combine the innovation power of Silicon Valley with the efficiency of the Detroit automotive sector.
Statistics provided by James Manyika, director, McKinsey Global Institute, show that while the manufacturing sector represents only 9% of jobs, it represents 61% of exports and 69% of privately funded research and development.
Bill Krueger, senior vice president, manufacturing, purchasing and supply chain management for Nissan North America, stated, “We want to be fast, frugal, and flexible,” which organizations can only be if they are close to their customers.
The crossroads of the virtual and real worlds is driven by the high-technology manufacturing sector, suggested Michael Gazarik, director, space technology program, NASA, who described how software ensured the success of the Mars Rover program through flight and landing simulation. The transformation taking place in the U.S. manufacturing sector is based on software, added Ludwig. Organizations like NASA and JPL using Siemens PLM software for design and simulation, Daimler using Siemens CAD software NX, or BMW using Siemens TIA Portal, among others, have embraced this concept and are experiencing a shorter time-to-market through efficient innovation cycles and enhanced flexibility using more data to “individualize” mass production, Ludwig said.
According to Airbus Americas chairman Allan McArtor, there will always be a necessary balance between automation and human functions with highly skilled workers. There are places in manufacturing for humans and automation. The Charlotte Siemens manufacturing plant, said Ludwig, provides an “excellent example of how gas turbines with the highest efficiency can be produced in the U.S. at the highest level of competitiveness, based on automation technology from Siemens and skilled workers trained in partnership with Piedmont Community College.”
Shifting “gap” responsibility
The notion of a skills gap in the manufacturing sector has to be transferred to a “training gap,” explained Siemens Corp. president and CEO Eric Spiegel. “Only by moving the responsibility from the trained to the trainer, and from the individual to the companies and educational institutions, are we addressing this challenge in the right manner.” Companies like Siemens, as well as educational institutions, must facilitate the development of industry’s current and future workers, he said. Spiegel highlighted Siemens’ apprenticeship program for students studying mechatronics, whereby after successful completion of the program, students are offered employment with a starting salary of $50,000—especially remarkable if we compare this with the average starting salary of $43,000 for liberal arts graduates.
According to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, government’s role is to allocate capital in the right places for where the jobs are, and support the training necessary to fill those jobs. Tennessee has allocated funds to support technology centers, resulting in a 90% graduation rate and 90% job placement rate.
Manufacturing and related industries consistently cite strength and opportunities. Siemens, for instance, expects 4% cumulative growth through 2018. Fred Hochberg, chairman and president, Export-Import Bank of the United States, also expressed optimism about growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector, citing a tremendous upside, particularly with regard to U.S. export potential.
- Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering and Plant Engineering, firstname.lastname@example.org.
See related story link at bottom of this article: “Manufacturing competitiveness, innovation: National and personal”
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