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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.”

Business Operations

Vaccine Myth Buster: Nephron’s Michaela Almgren Gets to Work

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Michaela Almgren already has two jobs, but in recent months, she’s found herself appointed to a third: COVID-19-vaccine information hub.

A foot in each world: A pharmacist by training, Almgren divides her time between the University of South Carolina’s College of Pharmacy, where she is an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Outcomes Sciences, and Nephron Pharmaceuticals, where she is clinical adviser and pharmacy student internship director.

  • Owing to her impressive background in drug formulation and analytical method development as a hospital pharmacist, as well as her skills as a lecturer, Almgren has also become a sort of de facto conspiracy-theory debunker when it comes to COVID-19 vaccination.

A go-to for facts: In recent months, in her capacity as both a professor and a Nephron employee, Almgren has given lectures and presentations about COVID-19, its variants and the vaccines—and she’s had significant follow-up questions from audience members. So many, in fact, that colleagues and others she has met teaching and at manufacturing gatherings have come to see her as a voice of reason capable of cutting through the noise.

  • “A lot of people just fall into this misinformation mill” about the vaccine, Almgren said. “Typing in something like ‘Dangerous COVID-19 vaccine’ will give you this feed of articles, but it doesn’t mean the vaccine is dangerous.… That’s just how these [search engines] work.”

Convincing and calm: Almgren has been the impetus for the vaccination of several employees at Nephron, which has a 100% vaccination rate.

  • “They’d say, ‘Thank you for talking with me. I was unsure about the vaccine, and it made me nervous, but talking with you made me feel that it was OK.’”

Fact vs. fiction: Almgren shared some of the top vaccine-related myths she’s successfully debunked during presentations and other conversations.

  • “They have long-term side effects.” Fact: “This is where I talk about how these [vaccine] components don’t stay in your body more than 72 hours. The idea is just to elicit an immune response, and then it’s gone. And think about it on a global scale. If it was so deadly and terrible, by now we would see millions of people dropping dead or getting really sick” as a direct result.
  • “They were rushed to market.” Fact: “When you actually look at how the clinical trial was defined, it was very similar to any other clinical trials for other vaccines. No shortcuts were taken. They just compressed the studies and ran them simultaneously.”
  • “They’re not safe for kids.” Fact: “As a parent, I can totally understand why people would be concerned” about the vaccine for children, Almgren said. “But the clinical trial is out there, released and published in terms of how Pfizer did it. The data is clear showing the efficacy is there, and the side effects are minimal. If you have no issue with the polio vaccine or the tetanus shot, why is COVID-19 any different?”
  • “Natural immunity is better.” Fact: “Natural immunity can be further boosted with the vaccine, and it wanes more than vaccine-induced immunity,” Almgren said. People who have had COVID-19 and get vaccinated “have an even stronger [immune] response.”

The last word: Check out the NAM and The Manufacturing Institute’s This Is Our Shot initiative to find out how you can protect yourself and the people you care about from COVID-19.

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.”


Labor Shortage Will Continue, But Manufacturing Is a Bright Spot

Shortage to Go On, But Manufacturing a Bright Spot

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The future workforce will continue to ‘favor’ workers over employers, with the labor pool set to grow just 0.2% a year from 2024 to 2031, according to the Congressional Budget Office and Axios.

What’s happening: “In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby boom generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis. But now, boomers are retiring, millennials are approaching middle age, and the Gen Z that follows them is comparatively small.”

  • Unlike in the recent past, organizations now and in the future won’t be able to count on “a flood” of job applicants for all advertised positions.

What it means for manufacturers: “On the one hand, manufacturers added 349,000 manufacturing workers in 2021, the most since 1994, and on the other, the sector has 219,000 fewer workers today than it did before the pandemic began,” said NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray.

  • “In addition, job openings remain near record highs, and firms continue to note difficulties in finding and retaining workers. In 2022, we would expect to add around 150,000 to 180,000 employees, building on last year’s strong gains.”

What it also means: “The reality of the labor shortage makes clear that we need an all-of-the-above solution to our workforce crisis,” said Manufacturing Institute President Carolyn Lee. “We need to attract new workers and provide them with the needed skills. That’s why the NAM and the MI’s Creators Wanted campaign is so critical and so timely. Research shows the next generation is looking for careers that matter. They want to have an impact, and they want the potential for family-supporting jobs with upward mobility, all of which are characteristics of modern manufacturing.”

“This data also underscores why we also need comprehensive immigration reform to ensure that we are bringing the best and brightest to the U.S. to help strengthen manufacturing in America.”

Business Operations

“What’s Ahead for 2022?” Predicts Growth, Continued Challenges

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Remote work, digital twins, an increased focus on sustainability and continued talent shortages: these are just some of the trends affecting manufacturers that we’re likely to see in 2022 and beyond, according to a group of expert panelists on the recent Manufacturing Leadership Council’s “What’s Ahead in 2022?” Critical Issues Panel. The NAM’s MLC is a global business leadership network dedicated helping to senior executives leverage digital transformation in the manufacturing industry.

We rounded up some of the top predictions as they pertain to manufacturers.


  • Manufacturing production will continue to be strong, said panelist and NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray. Toward the end of 2021, it was 2% above February 2020, “a sign that we’re continuing to move in the right direction despite … continuing supply chain challenges.”
  • S. labor-force participation is not likely to return “where it was pre-pandemic,” Moutray said. “A fair share of that is coming from retirement … [and] some people who are continuing to worry about child care and schooling.”
  • The economy will grow about 4% in 2022, Moutray predicted.


  • Washington will make moves to ease supply chain problems. “Congress knows they must do something to unleash the bottlenecks,” said panelist and NAM Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse. Legislation could involve workforce-participation incentivization in the form of training programs, as well as giving additional resources to ports.
  • The vaccination and testing Emergency Temporary Standard will be “an area for continued movement” in 2022, Newhouse said.


  • Technology will find ways to cope with what are likely to be ongoing workforce shortages, IDC Energy and Manufacturing Insights Group Vice President Kevin Prouty said. These will include automation and technologies to enable virtual and remote work.
  • More manufacturers will begin using vision analytics, Prouty said, owing to the increased affordability of cameras and the ease with which footage can be analyzed, shared and moved in the cloud.
  • Use of artificial intelligence will start to become the norm among manufacturers rather than the exception, panelist and MLC Content Director Penelope Brown said. “We’re seeing manufacturers move away from that research phase and much more toward a roadmap” for how they’re going to use AI in their plants.


  • There will be greater, more widespread movement toward sustainability. In a recent MLC survey of manufacturers, 87% said they believed manufacturing had a responsibility to society to be more sustainable, Brown said.

Dive in deeper with the MLC’s recently redesigned website, and ensure your team has access to the MLC’s full network and suite of intel, events and other resources.

Policy and Legal

Fender Fights Counterfeiting

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Manufacturers want counterfeiters to face the music.

That’s the message from Fender Musical Instruments Corporation—one of the world’s leading manufacturers of guitars, basses and amplifiers and an iconic brand recognized by millions. The company is urging Congress to step up protections for manufacturers and increase oversight of third-party sellers that can unintentionally contribute to the sale of counterfeit merchandise.

The problem: Manufacturers like Fender routinely face threats to their brand from counterfeit products. In 2021 alone, the company identified almost 32,000 listings of Fender products online for potential trademark infringement. Nearly 70% of those flagged listings were suspected of being counterfeit products. Yet, because those products are often sold anonymously through third-party online marketplaces, it can be difficult to go after the groups and individuals who create and supply fake merchandise.

Consumer issues: Counterfeits don’t just rob consumers of an authentic Fender experience; they can also create safety concerns. Guitars and amps with electrical components have been tested and perfected to ensure a safe product, but counterfeit and fake products come with no such guarantee.

A global challenge: Fender isn’t the only manufacturer facing issues around counterfeits and copyright infringement. According to the NAM’s research, fake and counterfeit products cost the United States $131 billion and 325,000 jobs in 2019 alone, and the global trade in counterfeits may exceed $500 billion every single year. That puts an enormous burden on manufacturers and consumers alike.

Our move: The NAM is leading the fight against counterfeit products. Our report, “Countering Counterfeits,” includes a series of suggested solutions to help the federal government and the private sector work together against fake merchandise, including:

  • Requiring e-commerce platforms to reduce the availability of counterfeits;
  • Modernizing enforcement laws and tactics to keep pace with counterfeiting technology;
  • Streamlining government coordination;
  • Improving private-sector collaboration; and
  • Empowering consumers to avoid counterfeit goods.

The word from Fender: “Protecting consumers starts with protecting the manufacturers who have built a name by putting out the best and safest products,” said Executive Vice President of Operations and Co-President of the Fender Play Foundation Ed Magee in his letter to Congress. “By working together with online marketplaces, manufacturers and trademark holders can proactively work toward preventing counterfeit goods from entering the stream of commerce, while also reactively working together to track down fraudulent sellers. When manufacturers and online marketplace vendors come together like this, the consumer is the ultimate winner.”

Policy and Legal

NAM Pursues Comprehensive Proxy Strategy

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The NAM is fighting aggressively to preserve a hard-won proxy firm rule and to scrap a new proposal from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that would gut its vital reforms.

The background: In 2020, the NAM won a major victory when the SEC published a new rule on proxy advisory firms—increasing transparency into the firms’ conflicts of interest and enhancing communication among proxy firms, companies and investors. But new leadership at the SEC has reversed course, unlawfully refusing to enforce the rule and issuing a new proposal that could wipe out important progress.

Order in the court: The NAM has pursued a double-barreled legal strategy to protect manufacturers and their shareholders. In 2020, after the SEC finalized the NAM-supported rule, the largest proxy firm filed a lawsuit arguing that the SEC lacks the authority to regulate proxy voting advice. The NAM moved to intervene in that case, defending the SEC’s ability to provide this needed oversight of proxy firms. Then in 2021, following the SEC’s announcement that it wouldn’t enforce the 2020 rule, the NAM filed a separate challenge against the SEC to prevent the agency from setting the rule’s critical reforms aside.

SEC engagement: At the same time, the NAM has worked to make sure the SEC understands the importance of the 2020 rule and the harmful impact that rescinding its vital transparency and antifraud protections would have. In late December, the NAM filed comments with the SEC underscoring the need for increased proxy firm engagement with companies and the importance of clear antifraud standards; the NAM’s letter also voices concern with the SEC’s decision to rescind the 2020 rule without allowing it to take effect and be fairly evaluated.

The bottom line: The NAM is making clear that the SEC has the authority to regulate proxy firms; that the agency must enforce the 2020 rule; and that manufacturers forcefully oppose any efforts to weaken regulation of proxy firms.

What we’re saying: “At the NAM, we’ll continue our defense of commonsense investor protections—in court, at the SEC and anywhere else it’s needed,” said NAM Senior Director of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Charles Crain. “Manufacturers continue to support the vital reforms the NAM helped secure in 2020, and we believe strongly in the importance of fair and transparent regulatory processes. The NAM is leading the fight to protect investors and preserve much-needed proxy firm oversight.”

Business Operations

When and How Will Manufacturing Achieve Net-Zero Emissions?

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When it comes to sustainability, the question is no longer whether manufacturing needs to work to create a greener industrial future—it’s when.

To help manufacturers advance their sustainability efforts and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, the NAM’s Manufacturing Leadership Council has dedicated the December/January issue of the Manufacturing Leadership Journal to Manufacturing 4.0 sustainability.

Key Highlights from the Latest ML Journal

  • Sustainability survey: Review the results of the MLC’s latest M4.0 sustainability survey to understand manufacturing-leader sentiment about climate change. Learn how the pandemic is changing the way leaders prioritize sustainability and net-zero strategies. Plus, find out how sustainability can affect future growth and competitiveness.
  • Practical examples: See what forward-thinking companies such as Procter & Gamble are doing to slash emissions and fight climate change. Also, discover M4.0 strategies and technologies to help you develop your own net-zero action plan.
  • Current conversation: Understand the successes, opportunities and challenges in the race to achieve net zero by 2050. Hear from thought leaders such as MLC Co-Founder David Brousell and Lisle Corporation President Mary Lisle Landhuis.
  • Potential obstacles: Learn the roadblocks to developing a sustainability program and how to overcome them. Know the challenges of adopting a circular-economy mindset and why it’s well worth having.

Why the ML Journal matters: Sustainability is just one of the exciting topics discussed in the ML Journal. Throughout the year, you’ll find case studies, interviews, technology showcases and deep insights on M4.0 from manufacturers working on the front lines. The Journal is a quick, easy way to stay current on the digital revolution—and sharpen your company’s competitive edge.

Click here to receive trial access to the entire December/January issue on M4.0 sustainability or to browse articles on a range of topics from past issues.

Policy and Legal

Supreme Court Reviews Stay of Vaccine Mandate

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The Supreme Court is reviewing state and business led efforts to block two of President Biden’s signature vaccine mandate policies according to The Washington Post.

The policies: “One measure requires large private companies to implement a requirement for employees to either be vaccinated for COVID-19 or mask and be tested weekly. The second applies to health-care workers at facilities that receive certain federal funding. Together, the cases test a signature aspect of the White House’s response to the pandemic that has killed more than 800,000 people in the United States.”

The challenges: All of the court action on the cases so far has revolved around whether the rules should be stayed while the courts review the legality of the rules.  Lower courts have been divided over the policies. After the administration announced the rule for private companies, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit blocked its enforcement. Shortly after that, A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit lifted the stay, and said the rules could go into effect. A similar split occurred around the healthcare mandate, with one court saying the rules could go forward and another court blocking them.

The Supreme issue: According to NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly, while the Supreme Court is considering only whether the policies should be stayed or allowed to go into effect while lower courts hear legal challenges to the provisions, the arguments covered several pivotal issues that go to the underlying merits of the challengers’ case.  Throughout the two-hour oral argument, the Justices and advocates sparred over whether federal agencies (v. Congress or the States) have the authority to impose the mandates, whether the mandates are overbroad and should instead target only certain high-risk workplaces, the extent to which vaccines are “necessary” (i.e., whether other mitigation measures would adequately protect workers), and whether the pandemic constitutes an emergency allowing the government to bypass notice and comment rulemaking. We expect the Court to issue a decision within the next few days.

Get vaxxed: Getting vaccinated is still important in order to protect yourself and the people around you. Check out the This Is Our Shot – a collaboration between NAM and The Manufacturing Institute – for tools and information.


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

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