Ducommun’s #MFGDay21 Was a Roaring Success

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It would have been an impressive feat no matter what, but Ducommun’s achievement of a robust and highly attended MFG Day 2021 was made all the more remarkable by the fact the company had been an NAM member for just nine months.

MFG Day, an annual program of the NAM’s nonprofit workforce development and education partner, The Manufacturing Institute, highlights the opportunities and potential of modern manufacturing careers by encouraging thousands of companies and educational institutions around the nation to open their doors to students, parents, teachers and community leaders.

“As a leader in innovative manufacturing, Ducommun supports National Manufacturing Day, as well as other education and community-based STEM programs and initiatives, that nurture and develop the next generation of creators, builders, technicians and innovators,” said Chonta Salts, Ducommun corporate HR business partner. “Our goal for MFG Day was to engage with students, parents and educators to broaden their understanding of modern manufacturing and to highlight the range of full-time opportunities, internships and part-time summer jobs available to them.”

Their MFG Day: Ducommun, a 172-year-old Santa Ana, California-based provider of technology-driven structural and electronic solutions for the aerospace, defense and industrial markets, coordinated employee and representative visits with 11 high schools and colleges nationwide. Each school is local to one of Ducommun’s U.S. manufacturing performance centers.

  • Events were held in person at Ducommun, in classrooms at local schools and online through livestream. Ducommun leadership teams, engineers, technicians and production team members engaged with students about what a career in modern manufacturing is really like—and how much room it offers for professional growth and advancement.
  • “Employees shared their own success stories: starting out in entry-level production positions, completing training programs to advance to technical, engineering or other professional positions and what they do in their current role,” said Ducommun Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Rose Rogers. “I think that’s a key component of rolling it out. You have to engage with students at their level. By having our employees connect with the students, they were able to ask questions directly to our employees.”

What they did: Ducommun’s MFG Day success was bolstered by the fact that the company has long been involved in sponsoring local-school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities. So come October, it already had many connections at nearby schools.

  • Ducommun team members attended the virtual training sessions offered on the MFG Day section of,Salts said.
  • Using the site’s resources page, Salts worked with the company’s communications team to transform their standardized presentation into one for high school audiences that could be easily customized by HR leaders responsible for local events.
  • Rogers and Salts “got buy-in and feedback from senior leadership” early in the planning process.
  • They ensured their events were dynamic, interactive and interesting to the students because “we didn’t want to sit them in a conference room, watch a presentation and wish they were back at school!” Rogers said, with a laugh.

Facts and figures: Ducommun started its MFG Day planning “months” in advance, Salts said, and the work paid off. Here are some of the specific results:

  • More than 500 students attended and participated in Ducommun’s MFG Day events.
  • There were five in-school presentations by Ducommun team members.
  • The day included 17 student presentations.
  • There were six onsite visits by students to Ducommun performance centers.
  • The day had one virtual presentation.

The payoff: Ducommun’s participation in MFG Day is part of its commitment to build the next generation of creators and innovators, Salts said. Though it’s still too early for the company to have reaped the workforce rewards of its autumn outreach, Rogers said it has received a great deal of interest from students about full- and part-time jobs after graduation. Ducommun expects to fill many open positions in late spring and summer 2022.

  • “We invested in MFG Day because one of our core beliefs and commitments is to support the communities where we live and work,” Rogers said. “We emphasized that working at Ducommun wasn’t going to be just a job—this could be a long-term play for students because they can build a career with us. Being able to engage with them was invaluable.”

For more information on MFG Day and how to host a successful one next year, visit

Business Operations

The “Megatrends” Are Coming: Global Predictions Manufacturers Should Know

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Several “megatrends” affecting manufacturers and the world at large will begin unfolding in coming years. University of Cambridge Judge Business School Dean Dr. Mauro F. Guillen made this prediction during a presentation at the recent Manufacturing Leadership Council’s “Manufacturing in 2030: The Shape of Things to Come” event.

Three trends: “Three kinds of trends … are coming together to produce a very different situation by the year 2030,” said Guillen, the author of “2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything.” He categorized them as “population trends, trends about emerging markets and technological trends.”

Here, we break down some of the highlights from these three umbrella trends.

Durable-goods demands will start earlier—and extend later: Owing largely to immigration patterns, large durable-goods purchases will, on average, start to come earlier in life, Guillen said.

  • Thus, in coming years, durable-goods manufacturers can probably expect their customer demographic to broaden to include younger people.
  • At the same time, Guillen said, given that people are living longer and better, consumers will wield purchasing power for longer than they did in decades past. “There is a massive concentration of wealth in the upper age groups,” Guillen said. This will mean greater demand for certain goods, such as robotics capable of caretaking, later into people’s lives.

Purchasing-power centers will shift: Currently, the U.S. and Europe are the world’s largest consumer economies, but by 2030, those distinctions will belong to China and India, Guillen said. And by 2040, India will have eclipsed China in this regard, due to population growth.

  • While older people will hold onto their purchasing power, younger consumers will hold sway for larger buys as they spend their money on homes, cars and other major purchases.
  • Meanwhile, wealth accumulation will continue to grow everywhere in the world, he said, fueling the appetite for manufacturers’ goods.

Emerging markets will overtake developed ones: Manufacturers can soon expect to see emerging markets become larger than developed ones, Guillen said.

  • That trend will mean a shift in manufacturer focus away from the U.S. and Europe and toward Africa and India. Said Guillen, “Sooner or later consumer markets will gravitate toward where the population is.”

The last word: Guillen’s main point of advice for manufacturers? To “identify the wave that you want to surf and take that opportunity, go with that wave. It’s so much better than going against the prevailing winds. You’ll be aligning yourself with the global economy.”


Parts Life, Inc. Family of Companies Builds Employee Homeownership

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At the Parts Life, Inc. family of companies (Parts Life, Inc.; DeVal Life Cycle Support, LLC; and LC Engineers), they’re not just working to solve product obsolescence, they’re also making it possible for employees to put down roots in their community. 

The company, based in Moorestown, New Jersey, works with all military branches, original equipment manufacturers and prime contractors in aerospace and defense to manufacture critical components that extend the life of mission-critical assets. Through a novel initiative, Parts Life also offers loans to employees to help them buy homes.

How it started: The Help U Buy program, or HUB, was the brainchild of founder and CEO Sam Thevanayagam, who knows just how important a home can be.

  • “The primary way that you create capital for yourself is to buy your first home,” said Thevanayagam. “I downsized my first home and bootstrapped Parts Life. I used my home as collateral to fund the acquisition of another company. Most things are funded by using your home as collateral.”

Thevanayagam thought up the program three years ago. After a few conversations with his Human Resources Department, he formalized the initiative and set it in motion.

How it works: The company offers interested employees a forgivable loan, and the employees work it off through service over the course of five years, with no additional responsibilities. According to Thevanayagam, more than 25 people have taken advantage of the program since he created it—including 17 employees in the last year alone.

  • “We want every single person who works for us to be part of the American Dream,” said Thevanayagam. “When you own your first home, that sets you up for everything else. It gives you stability.”

The impact: Thevanayagam believes that the culture of a company is critical and that the HUB program speaks to Parts Life’s commitment to its employees. Parts Life also focuses on training designed to strengthen employees’ skill sets. The company frequently fills new positions by promoting from within as a demonstration of its investment in its workers.

  • “It’s mutually beneficial, because it’s helping people become more valuable to the organization and themselves,”said Thevanayagam.

The last word: “My purpose is to create an environment where others can meet their God-given potential,” said Thevanayagam. “It’s a CEO’s responsibility to have the right culture. At the end of the day, I’m the bearer of that culture. I help create it, defend it. I take that job very seriously. It’s like gardening; you have to create the environment and make sure you’re working on it carefully so people have chance to grow and bloom.”

Policy and Legal

Global Semiconductor Shortage Leads to Backordered Gifts

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A shortage of semiconductors continues to roil manufacturers across the country. NAM Vice President of Infrastructure, Innovation and Human Resources Policy Robyn Boerstling joined us to discuss what’s going on, why it matters and what the NAM is doing to help.

What semiconductors are: Semiconductors are critical components for all types of manufactured products. Essentially, they serve as the “brains” of medical devices and electronic devices from automobiles to home appliances to personal electronics. A shortage in semiconductors creates ripples across the manufacturing industry.

What we’re seeing: Christmas is around the corner, and American consumers are discovering that some backordered products may have delivery dates up to a year away. But the chip shortage also has longer-term implications. As more technologies become essential to daily life and Manufacturing 4.0 advances in the industry, a reliable supply of semiconductors will be more important than ever. Manufacturers will need steady, secure supply chains in order to guarantee smooth production.

What we can do: For now, there’s only so much policymakers can do to speed up production. Most semiconductors are manufactured in Asia, and deliveries are being hindered by everything from COVID-19 impacts to natural disasters. According to Boerstling, the eventual goal should be to create a robust semiconductor industry in the United States so that U.S. manufacturers are less reliant on foreign supply chains.

  • “This is a global crisis,” said Boerstling. “We need to be thinking about how to build resiliency in the supply chain. COVID has taught everyone the importance of manufacturing domestically and ensuring that we have the supplies we need to make products in the United States. That will require rebuilding our semiconductor manufacturing capacity through a combination of grants and incentives to make sure it’s competitive globally.”

Congress’s chance: Legislation to buttress the U.S. semiconductor industry has made it to both the House and the Senate, but differing bills have left Congress with a mismatch. The House passed a bipartisan CHIPS Act in an authorization last year, but it lacked funding. Meanwhile, the Senate passed funding through the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, but the legislation hasn’t been taken up in the House. Action is urgently needed, and Congress has the tools to move forward. Now, they need to act.

NAM’s role: The NAM is deeply engaged in conversations with lawmakers in the House and Senate to help shape a way forward that supports manufacturers and delivers the help American consumers need.

  • “The NAM is working with people in Congress and with manufacturers across the country to make sure lawmakers understand how important this is,” said Boerstling. “We’re looking forward to the House and Senate coming to an agreement.”
Press Releases

Manufacturers Caution Against Tax Increases as Supply Chain and Workforce Crises Persist

Optimism remains, but “increased costs” tops manufacturers’ concerns in final quarterly outlook survey of 2021

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers released its Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey for the fourth quarter of 2021, showing manufacturers remain mostly optimistic in their economic outlook (86.8%, down from 87.5% in Q3) but are significantly concerned with issues like inflation, hiring and potential tax increases targeting manufacturers.

“Manufacturers are working overtime to fill more than 1 million open jobs, including through our nationwide Creators Wanted workforce campaign,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “On top of that, we’re grappling with a supply chain crisis. Despite the challenges confronting us, manufacturers remain bullish on the future. But if Congress passes legislation with taxes that hit manufacturers harder than other industries, our entire recovery will be thrown off course. If new taxes land on our shoulders, it will undo all the progress we’ve made since the 2017 tax reform law.”

“Manufacturers have kept our promise to hire more workers, raise wages and benefits and invest in our communities. Our question to Congress—the message of this survey—is, do we want to weaken our recovery by undermining manufacturers’ competitiveness? Raising taxes on manufacturers will not help us build back better. It will tear down what we’ve achieved.”

Key survey highlights:

  • Top issues:
    • Increased raw material costs (87.1%), the number-one issue for the fourth straight quarter
    • Supply chain challenges (84.5%)
    • Attracting and retaining a quality workforce (82.7%)
  • 87.8% of respondents said an increased tax burden on income from manufacturing activities would make it more difficult to expand their workforce, invest in new equipment or expand their facilities
  • 85.2% said they have open positions they cannot fill.
  • 73.6% of respondents said supply chain bottlenecks negatively impacted their company’s outlook for production, hiring and overall business activity.

Read the full Q4 2021 Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey results here.

Background on manufacturing growth following the enactment of 2017 tax reform:

  • In 2018, manufacturers added 263,000 new jobs. That was the best year for job creation in manufacturing in 21 years.
  • In 2018, manufacturing wages increased 3% and continued going up—by 2.8% in 2019 and 3% in 2020. Those were the fastest rates of annual growth since 2003.
  • Manufacturing capital spending grew 4.5% and 5.7% in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
  • Overall, manufacturing production grew 2.7% in 2018, with December 2018 being the best month for manufacturing output since May 2008.


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

Press Releases

NAM Announces Promotions

Timmons: “We are ready to create the future for our industry and our country, with a focus on 2030 and beyond.”

Washington, D.C. National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons today announced an evolution of the NAM management team that will expand capabilities, leadership opportunities and innovations and strengthen manufacturing in the United States for 2030 and beyond. Amid an unprecedented pandemic, historic workforce shortages, supply chain and opportunity gap challenges, new and emerging threats to U.S. manufacturing and the country, the digital transformation and once-in-a-generation policy and legal achievements, manufacturers in the U.S. and the NAM continue to play an outsized role in creating the future for people, communities and the country.

These leadership promotions will bolster the NAM’s impact as the industry’s unified voice. They will promote, perpetuate and preserve the values that guide manufacturers’ unrivaled contributions to society and make America exceptional: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity.

“More than six years ago, the NAM Board of Directors put its support behind a vision to strengthen our association and make the NAM a ‘one-stop shop’ for manufacturers by expanding and diversifying the NAM’s portfolio of offerings in advocacy, operational excellence, legal action, workforce development and news and insights,” said Timmons. “The NAM’s record-breaking results in 2020 and 2021—in the face of crises many of us have never seen in our lifetimes—were a direct result of turning that vision into reality with an entire team resolutely focused on supporting manufacturers and America’s business sector every day. So, now we are putting more responsibility in the hands of this immensely talented team that has proven in the best and worst circumstances to be the strongest, most effective voice and resource for manufacturers in the United States. We are ready to create the future for our industry and our country, with a focus on 2030 and beyond.”

The NAM ends 2021 with a net membership retention rate on track to be in the top historical tier in the 126-year history of the association. Initiatives realized during the pandemic spurred tremendous growth for the association in 2020 and 2021. Those initiatives included efforts to mobilize and support manufacturers’ pandemic response and personal protective equipment production; advance vaccinations; provide greater operational insights to the industry; run momentous campaigns for policy and legal wins, notably infrastructure investment and pandemic relief; and deliver comprehensive solutions to the industry’s most pressing issues, including workforce development.

“Our capability to drive solutions for manufacturers is central to everything we do, and we are aligning this team to provide even more solutions moving forward,” said Timmons.

The following leadership promotions become effective Jan. 1:

  • Erin Streeter will be named Executive Vice President of the NAM. Currently serving as Senior Vice President of Communications and Brand Strategy, Erin will work alongside the President and CEO to set the strategic direction of the association and align and integrate teams, strengthen internal and external communications and grow audiences toward that direction. She will continue to oversee all brand, communications and marketing activities but will also add public affairs and mobilization as well as advocacy campaigns to her portfolio. The integration of these critical portfolios will ensure the NAM is positioned to advance the needs and priorities of manufacturers by providing first-in-class advocacy.
  • Carolyn Lee has been named President of The Manufacturing Institute by its board of directors. The workforce crisis of more than 1 million open jobs today isn’t just an existential threat to manufacturing in America; it also threatens the security of our country. To meet this moment, the MI continues to break new ground in supporting manufacturers’ efforts to recruit and retain a skilled, diverse workforce. Carolyn’s focus for 2022 will be on developing a strategic growth plan and expanding partnerships and thought leadership to carry the MI and the industry into the future.
  • Carolyn has asked Keith Smith to serve as Chief Administrative Officer of the MI. In this new role, Keith will work with Carolyn and the MI team to develop and implement a new organizational growth plan and help achieve the strategic vision of the organization. As a member of the NAM Senior Staff, Keith will also continue his leadership of the Association Partnerships Division as an NAM Senior Vice President, overseeing the NAM’s membership programs with association partners at the national, state and local levels.
  • In addition to her current responsibilities as NAM Chief of Staff, Alyssa Shooshan will assume leadership of NAM Board strategy. Alyssa will advance board engagement, initiatives, mobilization, partnerships and programming.

Six current NAM vice presidents will be promoted to the newly created role of managing vice president. This group will be charged with leading the NAM’s Leadership Team in creating new opportunities in advocacy, membership value/thought leadership and culture/operations. In addition to serving as counselors to the NAM President and CEO, they will work with senior staff on all issues impacting the association.

  • Adria Brockman, Managing Vice President of Membership
  • Jamie Hennigan, Managing Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs
  • Chrys Kefalas, Managing Vice President of Brand Strategy
  • Daryl Muller, Managing Vice President of Membership
  • Chris Netram, Managing Vice President of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy
  • Shonzia Thompson, Managing Vice President of Association Partnerships

Based on considerable input from across the association, the following team members will be promoted to vice president and named to the NAM Leadership Team, which meets quarterly to help enhance and strengthen the organization’s service to manufacturers and the country. The Leadership Team will be charged to work with the managing vice presidents in a select area of the team’s portfolio.

  • Rob Damschen, Vice President of Strategic Communications
  • Mark Isaacson, Vice President of Executive Communications and Chief Speechwriter
  • Brian James, Vice President of Conference and Office Operations
  • Mike O’Brien, Vice President of Public Affairs and Advocacy
  • Chris Schmitt, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships
  • Patrick Smith, Vice President of Member and Board Relations
  • Megan Stewart, Vice President of National Department

In recognition of the expansive growth of the MI, the following MI vice presidents will be named to the NAM’s Leadership Team:

  • Gardner Carrick, MI Vice President of Workforce Solutions
  • Herb Grant, MI Vice President of Program Execution
  • AJ Jorgenson, MI Vice President of Strategic Engagement and Inclusion
  • David McKnight, MI Vice President of Strategic Partnerships

A new group of leadership influencers, recognized by their peers as agents of organization-wide progress, was also appointed for one-year terms to work directly with the NAM Leadership Team to provide insight and counsel on key issues that affect the strategic direction of the NAM.

  • Cameron Alvarez, Art Director
  • Kristie Arslan, Senior Director, Member and Board Relations
  • Penny Brown, Content Director, Manufacturing Leadership Council
  • Julie Chase, Senior Compliance Counsel
  • Charles Crain, Senior Director, Tax and Domestic Economic Policy
  • Kirk Fordham, Senior Director, Member and Board Relations
  • Jeni Littlepage, Senior Manager, Benefits Administration
  • Ryan Ong, Director, International Business Policy
  • Cassi Zumbiel, Director, Workforce Programs and Policy, MI


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


A Helicopter Mechanic’s Manufacturing Career Takes Off

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Marsalis Leonard didn’t grow up in a gearhead family, but from the beginning of his eight years as a helicopter mechanic in the U.S. Army, he was immersed in a world of skills he would never have anticipated seeking out on his own.

  • “The Army was my introduction to mechanics,” said Leonard. “It taught me how different machines and processes work together, but it also taught me how to grasp hands-on knowledge and put it to use.”

A new career: That kind of experience served Leonard well when he transitioned out of the army in 2020. He had considered working in civilian aviation, but the process would have required additional education and a range of specific certificates. For Leonard, more school wasn’t a priority—and when he learned about the Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America program at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to get started in a new field by putting his existing capabilities to use.

  • “I wanted to jump into something with the skills I already had,” said Leonard. “Heroes MAKE America seemed like a great place to enhance my skills and turn them into a new career.”

An immersive program: The MI—the workforce development and education partner of the NAM—designed Heroes MAKE America as an integrated certification and career-readiness training program that helps prepare transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard members, reservists and military spouses for careers in manufacturing. The initiative offers in-person trainings and remote training options, as well as career support and placement. So far, the program has a 90% placement rate with graduates in 42 states across the country.

A learning opportunity: While Leonard brought plenty of his own experience to the table, Heroes MAKE America still offered valuable information and practical training in industrial maintenance that he continues to use today.

  • “It was very enlightening,” said Leonard. “Heroes gave you an education in basic electronics, pneumatics, hydraulics and mechanics. It taught you to read schematics and diagrams, which was probably the first thing I was able to grasp. It was very hands-on.”

A new path: Through his experience in Heroes, Leonard was hired as a maintenance technician at a Waxahachie, Texas, facility owned by Georgia-Pacific—a pulp and paper manufacturer based in Atlanta, Georgia. While the role may be different from his experience in the military, the Heroes program prepared him to take on his new challenges.

  • “I learned an insane amount,” said Leonard. “At first, it seemed overwhelming the amount I didn’t know. But I also was able to see people who have been in the industry for years—and they started out as kids with no experience. So, you work hard, pay attention, ask questions and learn from your mistakes. You’ll learn something—and you’ll use that knowledge.”

Get involved: Want to support Heroes MAKE America? Click here to learn more.

Press Releases

Manufacturers Fully Support Congressional Action on the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act

Washington, D.C. — Following U.S. House of Representatives passage of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act by a vote of 428–1, National Association of Manufacturers Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse released the following statement:

“Manufacturers strongly condemn and oppose all forms of forced labor in China and around the world, so we fully support congressional action on the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act to ensure that goods produced with forced labor do not enter the United States. Upon full enactment of the legislation, manufacturers look forward to working with relevant government agencies to ensure the law is implemented with predictable processes, clear requirements and effective enforcement to support our shared goal of eradicating forced labor.”


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 $2.5 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


ABB Apprentices Join the Next Generation of Manufacturers

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As manufacturers work to fill the skills gap and hire more employees, some are modernizing a tried-and-true approach: taking on apprentices. In Fort Smith, Arkansas, ABB—an industrial electric motor and robotics manufacturer—is leading the way with its innovative program for local high school students.

How it works: Apprentices work three hours per day, four days per week during the school year and then 40 hours per week during the summer. ABB trains them in a range of roles to provide them with a strong foundation in manufacturing skills and the ability to work their way into an advanced technician role.

A win-win: “These students are getting paid, and paid well for a part-time job,” said ABB Vice President of Operations Johnny McKusker. “They learn a variety of skills that most juniors and seniors in high school aren’t exposed to. And if they decide they like manufacturing and want to stay on, then we’re getting a person who joined us early, has had a lot of training and investment and is able to contribute at a high level early in their career.”

What comes next: Last year, nearly all of ABB’s apprentices took on permanent roles within the company after graduating. They were also able to continue their education through a local university, with ABB providing tuition reimbursement to help them pay for it.

A pitch for manufacturing: “Manufacturing as a career has changed significantly in the last 25 years,” said McKusker. “It’s not hot, dirty and dangerous work. Instead, it offers technical skill development and an opportunity to earn a good living.”

The experience: According to at least one participant in the program, the apprenticeship has been an excellent way to learn important skills and gain experience in a real work environment.

  • “My experience has been great,” said Nadia, a current apprentice working on the digital solutions team. “It’s given me the opportunity to learn about manufacturing, but also about bonding and building relationships with my colleagues. I’m getting the experience of what a real job would be like outside of school.”

The last word: “I want to continue working for this company,” said Nadia. “I took this apprenticeship because ABB was my dream job from the start, because of how great they are in industrial engineering. Seeing the opportunities here and seeing how they take care of bonding and relationship building—it’s something I really like and appreciate.”

Business Operations

9 Key Considerations for Digital Twins in Manufacturing

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Many manufacturers are ahead of the curve when it comes to digital 4.0, but not all may know about the numerous potential benefits of digital twins. A virtual replica of a physical product, asset or system, a digital twin makes the physical computable. It offers manufacturers a range of advantages, including better business visibility, increased product reliability and new revenue streams.

Is digital twinning right for your business? Below are some key considerations to weigh as you think about adopting this advanced manufacturing technology.

  1. Digital twins are not complete representations of a product.
    Digital twins are akin to algorithms. They are highly reliant on data input, and since it’s nearly impossible to turn every aspect of a physical product into data, digital twins are not precisely twins, though they are pretty close. A digital twin is created by outfitting a product with sensors that can track functionality. These can then be used to study simulations of the product’s performance. So digital twins are made up of models and data, but their complexity is reliant on the data used to create them.
  2. Digital twins evolve over time.
    As a product moves through its lifecycle, the information in its digital twin will shift in response to its performance, technical configurations and environmental parameters.
  3. Information and data are key across a product’s lifecycle.
    For a digital twin to remain relevant and useful over time, make sure you are utilizing a data structure that can be easily used and exchanged over different systems and applications.
  4. You can use digital threads to enable digital twins.
    Digital threads are a communication framework that link all elements of a product’s data, from design to obsolescence. Using them reduces the complexity of digital-twin implementation and increases digital twins’ accuracy.
  5. Transparency is critical.
    Identify, classify and correlate data across various sources so there’s transparency and automated information-identification processing. These are crucial for smooth digital-twin deployment.
  6. Open format is best.
    In contrast to a proprietary system, which ties an organization’s data to specific systems, limiting its use, an open format ensures that your digital twins can be easily updated, scaled and extended when new models and data representing new outcomes become available.
  7. Your device management plan matters.
    In addition to ensuring that data is in a format that can be accessed and used over time, you should make similar considerations for devices that will access that data (i.e., phones, tablets and laptops). Make sure that your device plan can keep up with your needs for monitoring, updating and security.
  8. The cloud is your friend.
    Cloud-based computing, storage, analytics and artificial intelligence/machine learning services enable operational technology and information technology managers to build, deploy and grow solutions quickly and affordably.
  9. There are costs and benefits.
    Digital twins today may be expensive to build and maintain, but they enable technical agility and speed that foster easier scaling—and save money in the long run to boot.

Learn more about digital twins: As decision-makers in manufacturing embrace digital transformation, it is imperative to consider digital twins as key pieces of the process. For more insights on digital twins in manufacturing, read Digital Twins: The Key to Unlocking Value and Innovation.

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