Research, Innovation and Technology

Manufacturing doesn’t just use cutting-edge technology—we create it. The manufacturing sector accounts for three-quarters of all private-sector research and development in the nation, giving our industry a critical competitive edge and providing our highly-skilled employees with vital support.

Business Operations

Outlook Hazy for Manufacturing 4.0 Progress, Survey Shows

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, many manufacturers raced to adopt advanced manufacturing technologies as a way to mitigate related disruptions. But there are signs the implementation is falling short of expectations, according to a new survey from the Manufacturing Leadership Council.

Is M4.0 adoption increasing? Respondents to the most recent survey were nearly evenly divided as to whether they were increasing digital-tool adoption in the wake of the pandemic: 30% said adoption had accelerated, 32% said it decelerated and 35% said it had not changed. Prior surveys overwhelmingly revealed that manufacturers were accelerating their digital investments.

Key findings: Other data points of note include the following:

  • Most manufacturers gave themselves a low- to mid-level grade on their M4.0 maturity—somewhere between a 3 and a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. When it comes to M4.0 roadmaps, the largest percentage of respondents (33%) said that formal roadmaps were still under development.
  • Nonetheless, progress is being made in some areas. Customer support made the most strides in M4.0 adoption, with 12% of respondents rating themselves as advanced in this area compared to only 4% last year. Additionally, 20% of manufacturers surveyed said their plant floors are extensively networked and IP enabled, and 52% said they have digitization for production and assembly processes.
  • More manufacturers are keen to take advantage of M4.0 technologies: 43% of respondents said they use machine learning, and another 27% said they plan to bring it online in the next two years.
  • The biggest jump for planned usage is for digital twins: 32% of respondents said they plan to implement this technology in the next two years, on top of the 25% who are using it now.

Major risk: Many manufacturers find themselves in a perilous cybersecurity position, according to the survey. Just 19% have a fully formed cybersecurity program that includes workforce preparedness plans, employee training and routine drills that simulate a cyberattack.

  • This is likely why 57% of respondents say that their company’s plant floor systems and assets are only partially secure against cyberattacks. The need to upgrade legacy equipment tops the list of potential challenges, with 59% of manufacturers reporting that they should do so.

 Other struggles: Not surprisingly, 53% of respondents cited a lack of skilled employees as their top challenge. Some 39% said access to an adequate budget for M4.0 investments was their chief problem.

The takeaway: Despite these issues, manufacturers still see tremendous potential in embracing M4.0, according to the survey’s findings.

  • Sixty-seven percent of respondents cited better operational efficiency as a top benefit of M4.0; 49% cited better decision-making, 47% cited greater speed and flexibility and 42% cited cost reduction.
  • Disruptions of the past two years have made manufacturers want to move toward becoming factories of the future, but the realities of the ambitious undertaking are proving daunting. Those who persist, however, are likely to find great rewards.
News

Meet the 2022 Winners of the Manufacturing Leadership Awards

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A group of world-class manufacturers and their leaders have been recognized for their achievements by the 2022 Manufacturing Leadership Awards.

About the awards: Presented by the Manufacturing Leadership Council, a division of the NAM, the awards recognize excellence in digital manufacturing. Since the program’s founding in 2005, more than 1,000 high-performing projects and individual leaders have been honored with an award. Winners represent companies of varying sizes in a wide array of industries.

This year’s awards were given in nine project categories and two individual categories. Some project categories include AI and Machine Learning, Digital Supply Chains and Digital Network Connectivity. Judging is done by a panel of industry experts, many of whom are past winners themselves.

Why it matters: The movement toward smart factories allows manufacturers to leverage data to become more efficient, productive, sustainable and competitive. In the difficult business conditions that many are experiencing, data-driven operations can mitigate disruptions and even predict them before they happen.

“This year’s winners are exemplary for their compelling use of technology, innovative approach to problem solving and overall commitment to furthering the progress of Manufacturing 4.0,” said Manufacturing Leadership Council Co-Founder, Vice President and Executive Director David R. Brousell.

Gala coming in June: Winners will be honored at the Manufacturing Leadership Awards Gala on Wednesday, June 29, 2022, at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort in Florida. The gala will also feature the announcement of this year’s Large Enterprise Manufacturer of the Year, Small/Medium Enterprise Manufacturer of the Year and Manufacturing Leader of the Year.

Select winners will present their projects at Rethink: The Manufacturing Leadership Council Summit, the industry’s premier event focused on Manufacturing 4.0.

See the complete list of winners here.

Business Operations

Bourla’s “Moonshot”: How Pfizer Innovated to Save Lives

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In just nine months in 2020, Pfizer pulled off a scientific feat few were betting on: It produced an effective vaccine against the COVID-19 virus, an illness that at the time was contributing to thousands of deaths a week in the U.S. alone.

A ray of hope: Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla shares the astounding story in his new book, “Moonshot: Inside Pfizer’s Nine-Month Race to Make the Impossible Possible,” out today. Part best practices, part personal memoir, “Moonshot” is at its heart a story about a manufacturer on a mission: to be part of something larger than itself and help the world.

Here, we share some of the highlights.

Tremendous sacrifice: “Pearl River, New York … where we had research labs, was also a community hot spot for the virus,” Bourla writes on page 87. “More than 350 people a day came into the Pearl River site in the middle of the pandemic. They were diligent with precautions—masks, handwashing, social distancing, protective gear—but they were coming in for long hours and through weekends.”

  • “It was a tremendous effort under challenging circumstances. During the pandemic, we saw thirty-four hundred Pfizer colleagues infected across the globe. Dozens were hospitalized. As of July 27, 2021, twenty-three colleagues and four contractors had lost their lives. When I would learn of grieving families and families in distress, I would personally call or email.”

 Innovation under pressure: “I remember vividly when [now Executive Vice President, Chief Global Supply Officer Mike McDermott] came to a meeting to present how he would increase production to three billion doses in 2021,” Bourla writes on page 92. “One of the … challenges would be that if we needed to increase the production capacity dramatically, we would need many replicas of … new equipment, and we didn’t have enough readily available space in our manufacturing sites.

  • “‘I will have to build new formulation sites,’ Mike said, ‘and as you know, building construction takes years.’ And before I could ask him, ‘What you are going to do about it?’ he anticipated my question.”
  • “‘But we have a solution. … We can order prefabricated modules that we can install in our Kalamazoo manufacturing site within months, not years. … [I]t can be done.’”

Lifesaving cold storage: “Led by a man who became known as the Ice Man, James Jean, our engineers designed a temperature-controlled thermal shipper that could transport and store the vaccine anywhere in the world,” Bourla writes on page 94.

  • “We had been piloting the idea before COVID-19, but when the pandemic struck, we skipped the test phase and went straight to full implementation. The shipper, about the size of a carry-on suitcase, weighed about seventy-five pounds. It carried a minimum of one tray of vaccine vials and as many as five trays. Each tray had 195 vials, 6 doses per vial. So, a single shipper could carry as many as 5,850 doses.”
Workforce

State of Manufacturing: Resilient

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Workforce inspiration, COVID-19 safety, sound legislative policy, tax reform and democracy—these were the main themes NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons discussed during the NAM’s State of Manufacturing address Thursday at Chandler-Gilbert Community College Williams Campus in Mesa, Arizona.

Inspiring the workforce of tomorrow: Manufacturing is a high-tech, fast-paced, well-paying place to work, Timmons told the audience as he stood before the Creators Wanted Tour Live mobile experience, an initiative of the NAM and its workforce development and education partner, The Manufacturing Institute. But, he said, the industry has not been immune to the labor shortage.

  • “For each of the past nine months, manufacturers in America have had more than 800,000 open jobs in our industry—800,000 chances to launch a well-paying career,” Timmons told the audience of college students, teachers and staff, as well as local manufacturers. “In Arizona, there were more than 11,000 openings in just the first 45 days of 2022.”
  • Yet the state of U.S. manufacturing is, Timmons announced, resilient. “There’s hardly ever been more opportunities for future manufacturing workers. Innovators. Designers. Technicians. Creators. We’re a $2.57 trillion industry, with more than 12.5 million workers and counting. And the vast majority of manufacturing leaders say they are optimistic about the future.”

 Getting policy right: Timmons also talked about the policy landscape and stressed the need for lawmakers to enact robust supply-chain, immigration-reform and competitiveness measures.

  • “If we’re really going to outcompete China and other countries, then we need Congress to finish up the ‘global competitiveness bill’ they’re working on and get it to the president,” Timmons said.
  • He added that coming legislation must include measures to bolster supply-chain resilience, combat goods counterfeiting and increase domestic semiconductor manufacturing.

 “Rocket fuel” required: Following the passage of tax reform in 2017—which Timmons called “rocket fuel for our economy”—manufacturers have “kept our promises to raise wages, hire more workers and invest in our communities,” he said.

  • “For more than a year, some politicians have tried to raise taxes on manufacturers,” Timmons said. “They tried it with the COVID-19 relief bill. They tried it with infrastructure. They tried it with Build Back Better. And three times, manufacturers said don’t do it. And we won. The voices of moderation in the Senate prevailed.”
  • “But if tax reform is repealed or punitive measures, such as the ‘book tax,’ are passed, the U.S. economy will suffer,” Timmons said.

Safeguarding values: America’s values and institutions are what have made manufacturing possible, Timmons said, and we must defend them from the threats they now face.

  • “Today, America faces new threats to our democracy, including those threats from within,” Timmons said. “And once again, manufacturers stand proudly on the side of protecting and preserving American democracy and our constitutional republic.”

Media mentions: News of Timmons’ address was picked up by national outlets including POLITICO Pro’s Morning Trade and Fox Business, and an op-ed by Timmons ran on Cleveland.com.

Point of emphasis: “I’ve always believed, and the past two years have reinforced, that manufacturers are in the business of causes greater than self. From building the arsenal to win a world war decades ago, to pioneering the treatments to defeat today’s diseases and pandemics, we change the world,” Timmons underscored in the wrap-up of the address.

Read Timmons’ full remarks here. Learn more about the Creators Wanted campaign and encourage students in your networks to RSVP for its Scottsdale, Arizona, showcase on March 7 here.

Workforce

2022 STEP Ahead Award Winners Announced

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Word is out – the recipients of this year’s STEP Ahead Awards have been announced.

What’s happening: Bestowed each year by the Manufacturing Institute, the NAM’s workforce development partner, the STEP Ahead Awards recognize outstanding women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and production (STEP). This year marks the honor’s 10th anniversary.

Why it matters: “The STEP Ahead Awards are central to the industry’s efforts to recognize and empower women,” said MI President Carolyn Lee. “Manufacturing is averaging more than 800,000 open jobs a month in the past year, and we can’t close that gap without closing the gender gap.”

  • Recipients “serve as role models and have their own multiplier effect on the number of women in the workforce, paying it forward to help others find their way into a successful, rewarding career in modern manufacturing,” Lee said.
  • Agreed 2022 STEP Ahead Chair Denise Rutherford: “The 2022 STEP Ahead Honorees and Emerging Leaders are excellent representatives of the exciting opportunities available in manufacturing. These remarkable women and the leadership they show help inspire the next generation of female leaders to consider careers in manufacturing.”

Gala to follow: The 130 recipients of the 2022 awards will be honored at an in-person Aril 28 gala in Washington.

See the full list of 2022 award recipients here.

Business Operations

Manufacturers Explore New Tech and Best Practices at MLC Master Class Series Events

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To help manufacturers navigate Manufacturing 4.0, the NAM’s Manufacturing Leadership Council launched the MLC Master Class Series. This series includes regular virtual events designed to explore new technologies, address pain points and showcase opportunities—all while connecting forward-thinking manufacturing leaders. Sessions in the series include interactive webinars, Technology Deep Dives and Tech Talks.

Webinars: With formats such as panel discussions, use cases and executive interviews, the Master Class webinars are especially beneficial to manufacturers who want to learn about the innovative technologies that have the potential to enhance their operations. These virtual sessions are a chance to hear directly from the digital manufacturing experts moving our industry forward. Content and discussions during these sessions provide insights on identifying, evaluating and implementing new technologies as well as providing strategies for leadership in the age of digital progress.

Deep dives: Deep dives are 60-minute interactive sessions that continue and expand the learning necessary to be successful with new technologies. They provide a more in-depth understanding of specific technologies, where they can be applied and how they can lead to new competitive advantages. Each deep dive also features short breakout sessions focused on either “How Do I Get Started?” or “How Do I Further Leverage?”

Tech talks: Tech talks are 30-minute candid conversations with subject-matter experts who provide insights into how specific technologies are designed to accelerate and drive the journey to Manufacturing 4.0. From purpose and adoption, to challenges with implementation and best practices on operations, MLC’s tech talks will enable you to stay abreast of new and evolving manufacturing technologies within the marketplace.

Master Class events take place throughout the year. Manufacturers at all stages of digital transformation are invited to participate in the entire series or choose individual events based on their needs and interests. To see upcoming classes and access recordings of past sessions, click here.

Business Operations

What Will Manufacturing Look Like in 2030?

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Given the many uncertainties brought about by COVID-19, supply chain disruptions, labor shortages and more, it might seem as though what happens in the coming decade is anyone’s guess. But on closer examination, there are signposts signaling some of what’s to come—and a closer look at them can help manufacturers plan for the coming years.

At the recent “Manufacturing in 2030: The Shape of Things to Come” event hosted by the NAM’s Manufacturing Leadership Council, in-person and virtual attendees heard from experts, examined trends, explored technologies and discussed upcoming challenges. The goal: to look into the future of manufacturing.

“We can’t be certain about what tomorrow will bring, let alone what might be in 2030,” said MLC Co-Founder David Brousell in his opening remarks. However, “we can project or extrapolate based on current trends and conditions, with a reasonable amount of probability, what the shape of manufacturing will look like in 10 years’ time.”

Why Manufacturing in 2030: Everything in manufacturing is changing, driven by technologies capable of giving decision makers more information than ever before. Prior to the pandemic, companies were already making changes to their organizational structures, shifting from hierarchical models to more collaborative means of organizing people and processes. COVID-19 has only accelerated this change.

Brousell explained: “All around us, conventional notions of what can be accomplished in production … are being reimagined.”

Challenges and opportunities: Upcoming challenges discussed included continued global supply chain disruptions, climate change and the redefinition of the human–machine relationship. Speakers examined the technological, organizational and leadership characteristics that can set manufacturers apart and provide them with a competitive advantage.

What’s next: The MLC will soon launch its yearlong “Manufacturing in 2030” project, which will help manufacturers explore, understand and plan for the future of the manufacturing industry in the next decade.

Said Brousell: “If we do things right in the next 10 years, we have the opportunity to create the greatest engine of manufacturing production humankind has ever seen.”

Press Releases

COMPETES Act Supports Manufacturers’ Call for Stronger Stance on China, Addresses Inflation

Timmons: Lawmakers can feel confident that supporting this bill means supporting the future of manufacturing in America

Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement today on the introduction of the America COMPETES Act by the U.S. House of Representatives:

“The introduction of the America COMPETES Act, which includes many components of the overwhelmingly bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, is a major step forward, and lawmakers can feel confident that supporting this bill means supporting the future of manufacturing in America. Not only would its provisions help address inflation and alleviate supply chain challenges we’re facing today, but the bill provides significant investment in U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, which would also help us avert future crises. This bill also includes funding for a Supply Chain Resilience and Crisis Response Office at the Department of Commerce. I’ve discussed the programs that this office would oversee with Secretary Raimondo, and manufacturers strongly back these initiatives, which would include game-changing grants, loans and loan guarantees.

“This legislation would strengthen U.S. leadership in global climate innovation, improve environmental research and fill critical gaps in data—all while holding China accountable as the world’s biggest emitter. Manufacturers look forward to working with Congress on all elements of this legislation to ensure it meets the needs of our industry and supports America’s manufacturing workers and American families by putting the United States in a much stronger competitive position toward China.

“We will work to get it passed through the House and then work with the Senate to ensure that final legislation achieves the critical shared goals of this bill and the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act and makes it to the president’s desk.”

-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 12.5 million men and women, contributes $2.52 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.

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.”

Press Releases

Manufacturing Leaders Welcome White House STEM Policy Push

Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons and Manufacturing Institute President Carolyn Lee released the following statement on the administration’s announcements on semiconductor production and new policy efforts to attract STEM talent to the United States:

“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. 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,” said Timmons. “To ramp up domestic semiconductor production, we can’t stop at today’s action, though. 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.

“These immigration policies will also undoubtedly sharpen America’s competitive edge and help us outpace and out-innovate the rest of the world. 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.”

“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.”

“All in all, it’s a day of positive developments for manufacturing in America,” added Timmons.

-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 12.5 million men and women, contributes $2.52 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.

-The MI-

The MI grows and supports the manufacturing industry’s skilled workers for the advancement of modern manufacturing. The MI’s diverse initiatives support all workers in America, including women, veterans and students, through skills training programs, community building and the advancement of their career in manufacturing. As the workforce development and education partner of the NAM, the MI is a trusted adviser to manufacturers, equipping them with resources necessary to solve the industry’s toughest challenges. For more information on the MI, please visit www.themanufacturinginstitute.org.

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