Innovation and Technology

Policy and Legal

Sharpening America’s Competitive Edge

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The Biden administration is making new commitments to semiconductor production and planning new policies designed to bring STEM talent to the United States—and manufacturing leaders are weighing in.

The background: Last week, the White House announced a series of actions to attract STEM talent, to strengthen the U.S. economy and to improve American competitiveness around the world.

What we’re saying: NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons joined Manufacturing Institute President Carolyn Lee in praising the actions, while also pushing for continued work on these critical issues.

  • “The supply chain and economic disruptions facing American families and the manufacturing industry are driven in part by the severe worker shortage and by the serious chip shortage,” said Timmons. “Today, the White House has announced promising developments on both fronts, and we will work with the administration and Congress to build on this progress even further.”
  • “Manufacturers are leading America’s recovery, but we still need to hire more than 800,000 workers right now,” said Lee. “And according to the MI’s research with Deloitte, we will have 4 million jobs to fill by the end of the decade, 2.1 million of which could go unfilled if current trends continue. That sustained need is why the NAM and the MI launched our nationwide Creators Wanted workforce campaign. It’s why we have long focused on programs and policies of all types that will grow the pool of STEM talent in America. We have to come at this crisis from every angle, and the MI and the entire industry will continue using every tool at our disposal to inspire, educate and empower the next generation of creators.”

The road ahead: Timmons highlighted the path forward and noted additional important actions to meet current and future needs.

  • On semiconductor production: “To ramp up domestic semiconductor production, we can’t stop at today’s action, though,” said Timmons. “Too many manufacturing sectors have been unable to deliver the products American families need because they lack key components. Manufacturers are working overtime to overcome this challenge, but Congress has to do its part, which means passing USICA. Doing so will not only shore up our recovery and ease supply chain strains but also strengthen our economy and national security.”

On attracting STEM talent: “These immigration policies will also undoubtedly sharpen America’s competitive edge and help us outpace and out-innovate the rest of the world,” said Timmons. “In far too many cases, we’ve seen brilliant minds educated at American universities leave because our outdated immigration system doesn’t let them put their talents to work for America’s future. Now we can start to reverse that trend, among other key policy changes. As part of ‘A Way Forward,’ our plan for comprehensive immigration reform, we have long called for immigration policies that are responsive to clear economic needs. These policies meet that test, meaning that they will benefit our workers, our communities and our industry, empowering us to create even more opportunities for the American people.”

Business Operations

When Something Smells Phishy: A Cybersecurity Lesson for Manufacturers

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When an email account with a nonsensical address pretends to be your CEO asking you to buy gift cards, you might deduce that it’s a phishing scam, right? That attempt probably won’t get far, but cyberattacks are a more sophisticated threat and potentially much more damaging to manufacturers of all sizes than they might imagine, warns eSentire Vice President of Industry Security Strategies Mark Sangster.

In a recent webinar produced by the NAM’s Leading Edge program, titled “Go Phish: Building Cyber-Resilience with Managed Phishing and Security Awareness Training,” Sangster laid out some useful advice for businesses. Here’s some of what he had to say.

The threat: Cyberattacks pose a threat to manufacturers of all sizes. While there is a widespread assumption that attackers are only interested in larger corporations, the truth is that small and medium-sized businesses make up a significant number of targeted organizations. Lest manufacturers imagine that they don’t have anything a hacker or attacker would want, Sangster made clear that a great deal of information held by manufacturers is extremely valuable to attackers.

  • “If you look at the insurance data on claims, it’s small and medium-sized businesses, and in particular manufacturers, that are targeted,” said Sangster. “In fact, about a third of those attacks generally focused on manufacturers.”
  • “You have data and assets worth stealing,” said Sangster. “You have secret recipes and manufacturing automation controls, and data that’s involved in that. And personally identifiable records and intellectual property. And depending on the type of business you’re in, it might be health care records and so on.”

The approach: While stereotypes often suggest that most phishing emails and other scams are obviously fake, many cyberattacks are extremely sophisticated, using specifically targeted methods to gain access to vulnerable networks, Sangster noted.

The good news: Even nation states and powerful ransomware gangs tend to leave a trail before an attack that can help manufacturers identify looming problems and thwart a breach.

  • “There are signs and symptoms that something’s going on,” said Sangster. “There are steps you can take to prevent this from happening. And if you get into a hand-to-hand battle with these guys, there is an opportunity to identify it before it metastasizes throughout your organization and becomes those massive business-disrupting ransomware outages that we sadly read about.”

Some low-hanging fruit: Sangster highlighted a few protocols that manufacturers use to prevent most cyber attackers from gaining access, including multifactor authentication or a secure remote connection, like a VPN, or a software-defined perimeter that verifies the identity of a device before it is granted access to application infrastructure.

  • “Following these recommendations knocks away 90% of the risks that you face,” said Sangster.

Roll tape: For more information about the stakes of this moment, the importance of cybersecurity and the steps that you can take to protect yourself and your business, check out the full webinar here and learn more about eSentire here.

 The next step: Solid cybersecurity is a must for any organization. To help manufacturers protect themselves, the NAM created NAM Cyber Cover, a risk-mitigation and cyber-insurance program that helps manufacturers detect and cover any vulnerabilities. Check it out here.

Business Operations

How Manufacturers Can Stay Cyber-Safe

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What is the biggest cybersecurity threat to manufacturers today? It’s ransomware, according to the experts who spoke at a recent NAM webinar.

What they’re saying: “Ransomware … has really become the biggest threat to a lot of organizations,” said ABB Global Cyber Security Manager of Power Generation Jim Lemanowicz during the “The State of Cybersecurity,” a webinar hosted by the NAM’s Leading Edge program. Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts a victim’s data until a ransom is paid to the attacker.

  • “It’s not intended to necessarily attack the industry” it’s victimizing, he continued. “It’s purely a financial incentive, and it’s indiscriminate.”

No more small-time hits: Up until recently, one-time hacks into computer systems were more the norm among hackers seeking an illegal payday. “One thing that’s drastically changed is, now [cybercriminals] recognize that massive operational outages are the way to go,” said eSentire Vice President and Industry Security Strategist Mark Sangster. “And they can elicit seven-figure payments. It’s been professionalized. You can hire a freelancer.”   

Assess your risks: What does all this mean for manufacturers? Assessment is key, said Lemanowicz.

  • “Address the risk based on the criticality of the system—you know, what’s going to really cause you to have something that you can’t recover from, something that’s going to be a lasting problem,” he said. “Some systems you may be able to take offline” or use once a week or once a month.
  • In cases where the isolation of a device would wreak operational havoc on your business, consider building redundancies into the system to isolate the devices effectively in the event of a breach. “Controlled access points between systems [mean] a ‘cascading effect’ is less likely,” Lemanowicz continued.

The way in: As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Beware of often legitimate-looking spear-phishing attacks, which will appear to come from someone you or your employees know.

  • Today’s cybercriminals “have lists,” Lemanowicz said. “They map out the different industries. They have an understanding of who’s involved in what levels in that organization.”

What else can you do? The panel experts had some additional tips for manufacturers looking to keep their systems free of cybercriminals.

  • Use multifactor authentication.
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN).
  • Train all team members—including the C-suite—on good “digital hygiene” practices.
  • Regularly update all systems.

The last look: One of the best ways to view cyberattacks is by “using a cooking analogy,” Sangster said. “People think of state-sponsored actors and criminal gangs as being highly sophisticated, [but] what they don’t necessarily understand is that the ingredients they might use aren’t sophisticated. It’s salt, and it’s pepper, and it’s chicken. But it’s how they combine those” that can make a situation dangerous to companies.

  • The top way to avoid falling victim to these “recipes”? Said Sangster: “Having the basic [digital] hygiene in place.”
Business Operations

The Company That Puts UV Light to Work

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Did you know that several of the components in your car may have passed under high-intensity UV light prior to your purchase? You may have heard that manufacturers coat headlights with a UV protective film to keep them from getting scratched by road debris, but several other components are also manufactured using UV—including windshield borders and the protective coating on interior trim. The process is called UV “curing,” which dries coatings consistently, efficiently, durably—and without releasing harmful chemicals into the atmosphere, as other drying processes do.

The NAM got a firsthand look at this technology recently, thanks to manufacturer Miltec UV of Stevensville, Maryland. The company manufactures UV systems that cure products like optical fiber, semiconductors, prefinished hardwood floors and cars, supplying this technology across the country and around the world. NAM Director of Photography David Bohrer visited Miltec’s facility to check it out.

Here, an employee at the Bulb division is making a UV bulb. Miltec manufactures thousands of bulbs each year for export around the globe:

When dealing with UV technology, safety comes first. Here, an employee working in the Li-ion Battery Research and Development lab is assembling coin cell batteries in a glove box. The batteries will be used as test samples.

The set of a sci-fi movie? Nope. It’s just the testing of a 16-lamp UV curing system that produces more than 530 KW of UV power. Ultimately, the customer will use this system to cure inks and coatings on a high-speed printing press that manufactures outdoor packaging bags, such as for Miracle-Gro.

Of course, you can’t go through an entire story about UV light without a cool picture of UV light—so here it is. This is a UV bulb after it’s been filled with an inert gas, which helps it illuminate its powerful UV light.

Miltec says: “Miltec UV is proud to be a member of the NAM and extremely grateful for all of the work that the NAM does to protect the jobs of our team members that do so much to help our company grow and succeed in the international market,” said Miltec President Bob Blandford. “We are also honored and blessed to have such a dedicated manufacturing team that truly understands the importance of making products in the USA and satisfying customers with reliable and high-performance products. With the help of tax cuts, Miltec UV is doing its part by creating more jobs, increasing salaries and offering end-of-year bonuses for its employees.”

Business Operations

How Eastman Strives for a Circular Plastics Economy

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Eastman may be a specialty materials company, but its focus these days is expansive: the well-being of the planet and the sustainability of manufacturing practices.

“We have three main pillars,” Eastman Executive Vice President and Chief Technology & Sustainability Officer Steve Crawford told us. “How do you improve the climate? How do you care for society? And how do you eliminate waste?”

Eastman means to do all three.

Circular economy: Among Eastman’s goals for the foreseeable future is making major strides toward the creation of a circular plastics economy, a model of production and usage that emphasizes the reuse and refurbishment of plastic products over new creation.

  • Eastman encourages traditional, also known as mechanical, recycling when it can be used. However, “300 million metric tons of plastic get produced in the world every year, with less than 20% collected for mechanical recycling. In the U.S., less than 10% actually gets recycled,” said Crawford, who has been with Eastman for 35 years. “Most of it ends up in landfills, incinerated or worse.”

Under construction: Eastman, which plans to make its operations carbon-neutral by 2050, is constructing what will be one of the world’s largest plastic to plastic molecular recycling facilities in Kingsport, Tennessee. It is slated for completion by the end of 2022.

  • Eastman estimates that by 2025, the facility will be diverting 250 million pounds of plastic waste every year. By 2030, the company plans to make that figure 500 million.

Why it’s important: “Mechanical recycling—where you go out and take items like single-use bottles, chop, wash and re-meld them and put them back into textiles or bottles—can only really address a small portion of the plastics that are out there,” Crawford said. After a few cycles, the polymers in the products degrade and the process is no longer possible.

  • Instead, Eastman uses advanced, also known as molecular or chemical, recycling. “We unzip the plastic back to its basic building blocks, then purify those building blocks to create new materials,” Crawford said. This “creates an infinite loop because that polymer can go through that process time and time again.”

Additional measures: Eastman also makes use of carbon renewal technology, in which hard-to-recycle mixed plastics are brought into the recycling stream, broken down to the molecular level and reformed into textiles and other materials. Fully 40% of the material in Eastman’s Naia Renew cellulosic fiber, in fact, comes from the plastic reclaimed through this process, Crawford said.

  • The company is involved in polyester renewal technology as well. Using colored soda bottles, old carpet and a variety of other mixed plastic waste streams, Eastman creates new materials that can be used to make everything from reusable containers to electronics to eyeglass frames.

First do no harm: Before implementing any new technology, Eastman makes sure of one thing: that it has a lower greenhouse-gas footprint than the process it will replace. Said Crawford: “We fundamentally believe that solving the waste issue should not hurt the climate.”

  • The company also has a long-term goal regarding emissions: it plans to reduce its greenhouse-gas output by one-third by 2030.

The policy angle: To make a real difference where plastic waste is concerned, the U.S. needs “smart” policies in place, Crawford said. Eastman’s recommendations include:

  • Incentives, mandates and infrastructure investment that will increase all recycling;
  • Cooperation between companies, nonprofits and local and state governments that have effective models for aggregating and collecting plastic waste; and
  • Legislation to ensure the definition of recycling includes advanced-recycling techniques.

The last word: “There is no one company that’s going to be able to create the circular economy by themselves,” Crawford said. “It’s going to take partnerships across the value chain and really smart public policy. We can’t solve this issue alone.”

Business Operations

How PTC Onshape Helps Formlabs Print the Future

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The NAM’s Makers Series is an exclusive interview series featuring creators, innovators and trailblazers in the industry sharing their insights and advice. In this episode, you’ll meet Matt Lipsitz and Adam Lebovitz of Formlabs, who discuss how PTC Onshape helps Formlabs improve their 3D-printer design. Learn how PTC has helped Formlabs “try out new ideas that weren’t possible in the past.”

Business Operations

Fortune Brands Puts Sustainability Front and Center

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When it comes to making strides in sustainability, Fortune Brands Home & Security knows the power of small, steady steps. The company works to improve sustainability in a wide variety of ways, from water conservation to the recycling of ocean plastics and wood. We talked to two of its leaders recently to get the inside scoop.

Mission Moen: In 2020, the company launched Mission Moen, its commitment to conserving 1 trillion gallons of water by 2030. To meet that goal, Moen has employed cutting-edge innovation, explained Fortune Brands Global Plumbing Group Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer Mark-Hans Richer.

  • Its Flo by Moen, for example, is a “smart water security system” that, through a mobile app, standalone sensors, detectors and other tech, allows consumers to monitor their water usage—and detect leaks they may not even know about.
  • “There is an immense amount of water that’s wasted every year in the United States … due to lack of knowledge,” said Richer. “Flo by Moen allows users to see where water use is any minute of any day.”

 “The key to saving water is in small fixes,” Richer emphasized. For example, “a faucet that has a little bit more managed gallon-per-minute flow can add up over the course of its use … to some pretty substantial savings.”

 Cleaning up the oceans: The second pillar of Mission Moen is the company’s commitment to cleaning up the world’s oceans—specifically, 2,000 tons of plastic that’s currently floating in them.

  • “We’ve found a lot of very useful, interesting things” that can be made with ocean-recycled plastic, Richer said. These include product packaging and components in showerheads.
  • “When you commit yourself to a large goal, then you start to look for ways” to meet that goal, he continued.

Recycled wood and plastic: FBHS’s dedication to conservation extends throughout the company. Recycled wood and plastic are used to create its Fiberon Balance composite decking, Fiberon President Fenton Challgren told us. It’s a complex process:

  • First, there is an “intensive search … for the right plastic, which comes in bales by the truckload,” said Challgren.
  • The company then must “sort the contaminants, contain them, grind them, get them into different extruders … and create a stable pellet” that can be used for the decking, he continued.

What should manufacturers learn from FBHS? Manufacturers seeking to reduce the size of their company’s environmental footprint should think of these efforts as a long-term investment, according to Challgren.

  • “On the water recycling side, have a really robust filtration system,” Challgren urged. “Spend the money, get the technology. It’s a big investment, but if you’re doing any type of high-volume water usage,” it will be less expensive in the long run.

The last word: As Challgren summed it up, “The impact your company could have by going down this path … will be worth it both financially and for the greater good.”

Press Releases

New NAM Report Highlights the Impact and Importance of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

Timmons: Pharmaceutical manufacturers are essential to America’s health and well-being and to the success of our economy.

Washington, D.C. – After the publication today of the National Association of Manufacturers’ latest report, Ensuring a Healthy Future: The Impact and Importance of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement:

“Pharmaceutical manufacturers are essential to America’s health and well-being and to the success of our economy. They have helped lead our country through crisis, fight the pandemic and drive our recovery. The sector creates hundreds of thousands of jobs, and the work its quarter of a million employees perform is literally lifesaving, improving society in ways that are almost impossible to overstate.”

The report finds that not only have pharmaceutical manufacturers been pioneers in improving the human condition, but the industry also fuels other sectors of the economy.

According to the report:

  • Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing directly employs an estimated 267,000 workers in the United States and supports nearly 1.9 million more jobs across the country.
  • One job in the industry helps support six other jobs in the overall workforce.
  • Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing generates nearly $339 billion in output. Further, $1.00 in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing output generates $1.09 in output elsewhere in the economy.
  • For every $1.00 earned by an employee within the industry, $2.42 is earned by others elsewhere in the economy.

“The American public and policymakers too often overlook these accomplishments,” Timmons added. “Traditional economic analysis ignores the way this industry extends and enriches lives, and the public is not fully aware of pharmaceutical manufacturers’ constant focus on innovation and improving the quality of life for everyone. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are always researching, discovering and developing new medicines and treatments, operating at the core of our modern health care system. Their products make it possible for medical professionals to introduce and manage innovative new therapies, and of course, these manufacturers helped create lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines. Moreover, the industry has high economic multipliers that drive production and job creation in other industries.”

Additional Key Findings:

  • A successful pharmaceutical ecosystem requires strong private-sector investment. 
    • In 2019, American pharmaceutical companies invested more than $83 billion in research and development, topping off nearly $1 trillion in R&D investment over the past 20 years. A recent study from the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics estimates that the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing sector alone accounts for roughly 17% of total R&D investment in the United States.
    • The pharmaceutical industry invests nearly 11.4% of its sales back into R&D. Indeed, the U.S. pharmaceutical industry invests on average roughly three times more in R&D as a percentage of sales than all other manufacturing industries.
  • The industry creates valuable STEM jobs.
    • While roughly 6.7% of the U.S. workforce has a STEM occupation, 29.9% of all jobs in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing are STEM related. The pharmaceutical manufacturing sector employs more than four times the percentage of STEM workers employed in the overall workforce.
  • Industry employees are highly productive.
    • Industry employees produce $1.3 million in output per employee. This is nearly seven times greater than the U.S. economy’s average output per employee ($188,000).

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.4 million men and women, contributes $2.44 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 58% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Business Operations

ABB: Motoring Toward Greater Energy Efficiency

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Jesse Henson wants you to think of motors the way you think of lightbulbs.

Most people recognize the energy and cost savings to be had by switching from incandescent bulbs to LED light sources. In the same way, they should see the advantages of swapping out anachronistic, clunky motors for newer alternatives, said Henson, president of ABB’s NEMA Motors Division.

“You’ve [still] got the old incandescent lightbulbs out there—which are your motors—that need to be replaced with newer technology,” Henson told the NAM.

Not too different from 1921: The humble motor, which Henson says has “really not changed much in over 100 years,” is ubiquitous in manufacturing. Motors are found in factories in fans, pumps, compressors and more, powering everything from systemwide HVAC systems to individual power tools. But new technology could make them much more efficient and environmentally friendly—and save manufacturers a lot of money in the process.

Motor movement: ABB is working to change the way motors are used across the manufacturing sector, where they account for the lion’s share of expended electricity—approximately 70%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

  • A sizable portion of that electricity is wasted because the motors using it are running constantly, consuming energy even when no task is being performed, Henson noted. That’s a costly reality for manufacturers.

Use only what is needed: ABB’s variable speed drives address this problem, allowing manufacturers to tailor a motor’s speed to the job it is doing. “That’s how you save energy,” Henson said.

  • Adding a drive to a motor-driven system typically reduces power consumption by 25%, according to ABB.
  • However, most companies aren’t getting that level of efficiency—just a quarter of motors in use today have such energy-saving drives, Henson noted.

No rare-earths needed: Of particular importance at a time of global supply-chain disruption is the fact that ABB motors achieve higher levels of efficiency without using rare-earth magnets.

  • ABB’s EC Titanium motor, for example, does not use rare earths. Instead, it employs synchronous reluctance (the conversion of electrical energy to mechanical) technology and ferrite magnets for an even higher level of efficiency.

Easy savings: In fact, just by adding the EC Titanium motor drive to a fan array with 50 motors, one ABB manufacturing customer that already used drives cut its electricity consumption in half.

  • The company slashed its annual energy bill from $20,000 to $10,000, according to Henson.

The last word: “We want to continue embracing sustainability . . . today and into the future,” said Henson. “These motors and drives are truly a game-changer in our marketplace today.”

Business Operations

Rethink Presents Lessons for Manufacturing Leaders

Are you grappling with the fast pace of competition in manufacturing? Are you working to keep up with the massive amount of disruption brought on by artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and digital breakthroughs? Are you racing to create new competitive advantages by using the power of Manufacturing 4.0—the next wave of industrial progress based on digitization?

The NAM has you covered with Rethink: The Manufacturing Leadership Council Summit, on June 22–24.

What it is: Rethink is the premier conference on Manufacturing 4.0 for industry leaders as they continue to navigate disruption. Hosted by the Manufacturing Leadership Council—a member-driven, global business leadership network dedicated to senior executives in the manufacturing industry—the summit offers participants strategies and solutions that are designed to advance their operations and improve their competitiveness.

Why it matters: The COVID-19 pandemic supercharged some of the changes that were already occurring in the manufacturing industry. Across the past year, businesses have seen an even greater need for flexibility, agility and speed in operations, and many manufacturers have accelerated their adoption of digital technologies to achieve these goals.

What it includes: The summit will offer a wide range of informative conversations with next-generation leaders and experts. A few elements include the following:

  • Case study sessions showcasing real-world examples of advanced manufacturing technologies in action—from efforts to transform legacy facilities into smart factories, to the role of analytics in digital transformation, to the growth of robotics in manufacturing and logistics. By hearing from manufacturing leaders who have taken on these challenges, executives can learn best practices and gain new ideas for their own companies.
  • “Think tank” sessions that will allow participants to ask questions and share ideas about advanced manufacturing technology. These conversations will include discussions of topics like quantum computing, manufacturing execution systems, augmented and virtual reality, blockchain, edge computing and sustainability.

The big difference: Most importantly, Rethink gives participants the chance to learn from other manufacturing executives and experts. Many of the industry’s most forward-thinking leaders will collaborate at this summit to make manufacturing better and stronger.

Check it out: Click here for more information and to register for the summit.

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