Recently I had the opportunity to attend an interesting presentation and event, Today’s Manufacturing: Unlocking the Unlimited Potential, organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation as a part of their Business Horizon Series. There were more than 80 attendees representing corporations, government agencies, trade organizations and consultants gathered at the Chamber’s offices in DC. Here are some of my key takeaways that I wanted to share.
In his opening remarks, David Chavern, Executive VP and COO of the U.S. Chamber, shared the importance of manufacturing and how this sector has and will continue to contribute significantly to the economic and job growth in the US as well as globally. The keynote address was by Stephen Gold, president and CEO of the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI). He outlined what is holding back growth in manufacturing and what can be done to rejuvenate manufacturing in the U.S. In addition to changes in trade policy, tax codes and regulations, he emphasized the need for workforce development by reassessing the education system from K to 12.
The issue of workforce development repeated throughout the event. Creating proper awareness among youth and their parents about the benefits of being a part of the manufacturing sector is one of the biggest challenges-- one which deserves highest priority, in order to address the workforce needs of the future. Manufacturing Day is part of our effort, in partnership with our co-producers, to address this issue.
Kelly Johnston (VP, Campbell Soup), Norman Schenk (VP, UPS), Fred Schwien (Director, Gov. Op., Boeing) discussed the challenges of global supply chain. The message was clear that supply chain safety and resiliency are critical factors for healthy manufacturing. From their perspective, a number of issues need to be addressed in order to support a global supply chain, including expediting border clearances by modifying the procedures and establishing global standards.
The photo above is from the “What’s Next, Next?” Panel discussion. Moderator Rich Cooper from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation did a great job of facilitating a very engaging discussion. Dr. Helmuth Ludwig (CEO, Siemens- Industry Sector NA), Steve Rangers (R&D Manager, GE Aviation) and James Slutz (President, Global Energy Strategies) were the panelists. Steve discussed how the future of manufacturing is in additive manufacturing, which can lead to expanded capabilities, energy efficiency, manufacturability of complex parts at reduced cycle time and overall reduction of cost. Helmuth discussed the future megatrends and the need for a better trained workforce. Jim shared information about the abundance of natural gas in the U.S., possibly even larger reserve of methane hydrates as a source of energy. More effective and revolutionary energy storage technology could be a game changer in the future.
The key message I heard from all of these industry experts is that the future for manufacturing looks promising and exciting. However, we need to address a few issues –the most critical relate to workforce development and the education system.