Think Again: Encourage smarter manufacturing policies

Manufacturing is the innovative lifeblood of U.S. economic prosperity. Tell policymakers that. Send them this link today.


Robert D. Atkinson, founder and president, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a think tank, spoke at Manufacturing Perspectives, a Rockwell Automation event, Nov. 15, in Chicago. CFE Media photo by Mark T. HoskeElected officials in Washington, D.C., and other policymakers need to make smarter decisions to help manufacturing. Manufacturing innovation and leadership are key to U.S. economic prosperity, and anyone who says differently may be taking advice from a confused economist, suggested Robert D. Atkinson, founder and president, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a think tank, at Automation Fair 2011. Atkinson affirmed manufacturing as the key driver of U.S. prosperity, at the Rockwell Automation Manufacturing Perspectives conference on Nov. 15, among precursor events to the company’s 20th annual Automation Fair.

Control Engineering machine control - robotic icon“If manufacturing had grown as much as rest of the U.S. economy, we would have had 8 million more jobs right now,” Atkinson explained. Additionally, he cautioned, the U.S. Commerce Department has been over-counting manufacturing growth, measuring a two-fold increase in computing speed as selling twice as many computers.

Even so, Moore’s Law hasn’t slowed, and IT advances continue to fuel manufacturing innovation, Atkinson continued. In 1960, 5 GB memory cost $1.5 billion, in 1995, $5,500, and now, just a few dollars. In addition, productivity increases continue to drive manufacturing job growth. Most measures of IT performance are doubling in less than 2 years. For example, in 1988, it would have taken 82 years to solve a complex linear programming model, he said. In 2003, it took about a minute. While processing speed accounted for about a thousand times of the increase, the rest of the 43 million percent gain resulted from improved algorithms: smarter software.

Controls and IT Integration, Control EngineeringManufacturing, as of 2009, was low among ranked industries for the ratio of IT spending to value added, showing large room for additional gains. Where? Manufacturing IT powers smart sensing and smart instruments, faster networks, micro controllers, design and visualization software, high-performance modeling and simulation, and machine vision.

Cloud-based efficiencies (see December cover stories) are growing with 44% of manufacturing implementing or evaluating cloud-based deployments and 22% having already implemented, according to Atkinson-cited IDC data. Also, IPv6 will bring Internet advantages to a near infinite number of smart components, devices, and systems.

Control Engineering - discrete sensor iconAtkinson said policymakers need to do a better job at developing policies encouraging industrial growth, advanced innovation and R&D, and competitive strategies. These include advancing high-technology industries; lowering taxes; increasing fair trade; and promoting high-tech talent with more science, technology, engineering, and math—and apprentice programs (to help fill 600,000 manufacturing-related jobs available and unfilled due to lack of training, as noted later in the day by William A. Strauss, senior economist and economic advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago).

Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering, CFE MediaI also believe balanced budgets and a meaningful debt reduction plan would decrease risk and uncertainty and bolster confidence for manufacturing and other businesses.

Here’s your call to action. To help policymakers support U.S. manufacturing:

1) Find your elected officials: and 2) e-mail them the link to this advice, explaining that manufacturing cannot just fend for itself; it needs their help for even larger economic payoffs.

Control Engineering - machine and motion control - motor-drive iconMark T. Hoske, Content Manager, Control Engineering,

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.