Lowering technology barriers could save manufacturers $100 billion

NIST study finds smart manufacturing, robotics show greatest potential.


NIST engineer Jeremy Marvel adjusts a robotic arm used to study human-robot interactions. According to a NIST economic study on advanced robotics and automation—one of four reports on advanced manufacturing—Marvel’s work is the type of research needed toIdentifying what it called "gaps in the technological infrastructure," a recent report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) found that manufacturing could save more than $100 billion annually by implementing more advanced manufacturing strategies and systems.

In a joint project with international research institute RTI International, NIST officials said the lack of measurement science and what it called "proof of concept" for the emerging technologies is costing U.S. manufacturing money and delaying the benefits that could be realized by the implementations.

"Gaps in the technology infrastructure-including the lack of reliable measurement and test methods, scientifically based standards, and other formal knowledge and tools-limit advanced manufacturing's further development and adoption," said NIST economist Gary Anderson, who coordinated the economic studies, in a press release.

The study found three keys areas where technologies barriers need to be lowered.

They include:

Keeping standards and performance measures nonproprietary.

Using public research institutions to develop those tools.

Working with manufacturing research groups and technology extension service to "ensure that all manufacturers-especially small- and medium-sized enterprises-can access them."

The study identified significant savings in more rapid advancement of technologies. The two largest potential areas of cost savings and production improvements are in robotics and in smart manufacturing, which NIST defined as using electronically exchanged and processed manufacturing data from design to finished product.

The overall cost savings are

  • Smart manufacturing: $57.4 billion, 3.2% reduction in production costs.
  • Advanced robotics and automation: $40.1 billion, 5.3 % reduction in production costs.
  • Additive manufacturing: $4.1 billion, 18.3% reduction in production costs
  • Roll-to-roll manufacturing: $400 million, 14.7% reduction in production costs.

In studying each of those four areas, researchers identified up to 10 critical barriers to technology adoption and looked at what eliminating those barriers might accomplish.

Anderson said that as impressive as the basic numbers might be on the surface, they actually may be conservative, since they evaluated only the direct benefits of reducing such barriers. "If we consider the larger-scale outcomes brought about by meeting these needs-such as new and improved products, increased production quality, long-term industry growth and job creation-the impacts would be significantly higher," Anderson said. "Our studies emphasize that full economic impact will only be realized if all technical needs are met, and all stakeholders regardless of size, not just large manufacturers, can share in the rewards."

-Bob Vavra, content manager, CFE Media

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 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...
Safer human-robot collaboration; 2017 Maintenance Survey; Digital Training; Converting your lighting system
IIoT grows up; Six ways to lower IIoT costs; Six mobile safety strategies; 2017 Salary Survey
2016 Top Plant; 2016 Best Practices on manufacturing progress, efficiency, safety
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Big Data and bigger solutions; Tablet technologies; SCADA developments
Automation modernization; Predictive analytics enable open connectivity; System integration success; Automation turns home brewer into brew house
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas for tomorrow's fleets; Colleges and universities moving to CHP; Power and steam and frozen foods

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Motion control advances and solutions can help with machine control, automated control on assembly lines, integration of robotics and automation, and machine safety.
Compressed air plays a vital role in most manufacturing plants, and availability of compressed air is crucial to a wide variety of operations.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
click me