“I think this is the most profound overviews of how the US industrial revolution evolved to where we are today, in search of a revival via advanced/smart manufacturing. This is a longer article, but definitely worth taking the time to read it.”

John Dyck


Credit: Americanaffairsjournal.org
William B. Bonvillian is a lecturer at MIT teaching science and technology policy, a senior director for special projects at MIT Open Learning, a former senior adviser in the U.S. Senate, and coauthor of five books on technology policy and workforce development.
David Adler is author of the monograph The New Economics of Liquidity and Financial Frictions and coeditor of the forthcoming anthology The Productivity Puzzle, both published by the CFA Institute Research Foundation. He is also a contributing editor of American Affairs.

In a recent article titled “America’s Advanced Manufacturing Problem – and How to Fix It,” the authors raised some thought-provoking questions. To pinpoint how the United States went from a global leader in manufacturing in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to a laggard behind countries like China in the twenty-first century, one can’t help but look at the role the government, technology, and academia have played. Whether you agree that manufacturing innovation plays a key role in the United States’ economic position, it’s certainly hard to dispute that America lacks the skilled workforce, technologies, and funding to capitalize on advanced manufacturing practices.

The article also recommended ten action steps to ‘fix’ the problem – they are:

  1. Improve manufacturing institutes
  2. Back R&D for manufacturing technologies
  3. Provide scale-up financing
  4. Use government procurement power to promote new manufacturing technologies. 
  5. Direct production support
  6. Provide both “top-down” and “bottom-up” support
  7. Build a manufacturing focus into existing industrial policy programs
  8. Map and fill gaps in supply chains
  9. Fix workforce education
  10. Put someone in charge

The U.S. has already started to make strides in improving manufacturing institutes. Enter CESMII, the Smart Manufacturing Institute. Within the last decade, the U.S. government formed an initiative known as Manufacturing USA whose charter is to build capabilities through workforce and technology development. CESMII, a non-profit organization, is one of 16 innovation institutes and was established as the primary advocate for smart manufacturing (SM) through things like education and workforce development, research projects, and industry ecosystem collaboration. To successfully drive improvement within manufacturing institutes, CESMII has prioritized the need for technology leaders to come together and agree upon common interoperable standards. Why? Companies have spent years implementing one-off technology solutions – or stove-pipes – only to be left with silos of innovation. By providing packages of technological solutions that work together, businesses can justify the adoption of more advanced systems thus raising the bar for U.S. manufacturers. Another area in which CESMII is focused is around driving collaboration with governments, both state and local. From championing the latest innovation to testing its viability within local markets, it’s imperative that government agencies are aligned.

CESMII is uniquely positioned to bring together the right people, organizations, and technology to put the power of innovation at the fingertips of manufacturers – regardless of their size. It is doing so through, not only common standards agreement and government engagement but also with:

  • Eco-system integration –engaging industry partners and academia
  • Education – educate a wide constituency across the ecosystem
  • Technology & innovation – innovative solutions that form the building blocks for a smart manufacturing solution

CESMII continues to capitalize on investments made to date, and also focuses on developing and scaling new industry-wide capabilities for a more productive, competitive, energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable manufacturing environment.