Winning the race to innovation

America's manufacturers use innovation in every aspect of their business, to streamline production processes and to create new products that change lives for the better. U.S. manufacturing grew faster than the economy as a whole in 2004. Yet, there is a genuine, longer-term concern that our nation is in danger of losing its leadership position in R&D, innovation and a number of vital indus...

09/01/2005


America's manufacturers use innovation in every aspect of their business, to streamline production processes and to create new products that change lives for the better. U.S. manufacturing grew faster than the economy as a whole in 2004. Yet, there is a genuine, longer-term concern that our nation is in danger of losing its leadership position in R&D, innovation and a number of vital industries in the coming years.

Earlier this year, I helped release a sobering report that shows America is in danger of losing its global lead in science and innovation for the first time since World War II. The report was prepared by the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation, a coalition of leaders from industry, science and higher education.

We are still out in front of the world's innovation curve, but we do not maintain that status by divine right or past achievements. Competing countries are climbing the technology ladder just as quickly as they can. And the only way the United States can continue creating high-wage, value-added jobs is to climb that innovation ladder faster than the rest of the world.

The task force has identified dwindling federal investment in science and research as a root cause of the problem. More robust investment is a necessary part of the solution because federally funded, peer reviewed and patented scientific advances are essential to innovation. Such basic research helped bring us lasers, the World Wide Web, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and fiber optics. We shortchange basic research at our peril.

The numbers tell much of the story. Federal research as a share of GDP has declined 37 % over 30 years. The U.S. share of worldwide high-tech exports has been in a 20-year decline, from 31 % in 1980 to 18 % in 2001.

Similarly, graduate science and engineering enrollment is declining in the U.S. while it is on the rise in China, India and elsewhere. Rapidly increasing retirements from science and engineering jobs here at home could lead to a critical shortage of U.S. talent in these fields in the very near future. The Manufacturing Institute — the education and research affiliate of the NAM — is helping to educate young people about the exciting careers that manufacturing will offer them.

An innovation agenda must also include policies that encourage private-sector productivity and capital investment. For example, we are urging Congress to enhance the R&D Tax Credit and make it permanent. Clearly, businesses could plan R&D expenditures more effectively if there was more predictability to the nation's R&D incentives. Likewise, our nation has fallen behind many countries in deployment of high-speed broadband. We will support legislation in Congress to reform our telecommunications laws.

Encouraging innovation is vitally important, but we must also reduce the costs — many of them imposed by government policies — that make it so expensive to make things in America. An NAM study found that U.S. manufacturers are at a 22.4 % cost disadvantage relative to our major trading partners in costs such as taxes, litigation, regulations and health benefits costs. Manufacturers applaud Congress for passing class-action reform and energy legislation, which begin to address this problem. We must also continue our efforts to level the playing field for U.S. companies.

It's time for America to remove barriers to investment and to reward innovation and creativity. We are in a race to recruit talented people, increase capital investment, ignite R&D spending, develop new products, open new markets and create high-paying jobs for workers across America. To win this race takes more than good luck. It takes a plan. If we remain the world's leader in innovation, we will be establishing a plan for continued growth and prosperity.





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...
2016 Product of the Year; Diagnose bearing failures; Asset performance management; Testing dust collector performance measures
Safety for 18 years, warehouse maintenance tips, Ethernet and the IIoT, GAMS 2016 recap
2016 Engineering Leaders Under 40; Future vision: Where is manufacturing headed?; Electrical distribution, redefined
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Safety at every angle, Big Data's impact on operations, bridging the skills gap
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing arc flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

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 article collection contains several articles on the vital role of plant safety and offers advice on best practices.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me