‘Talent-driven innovation could be a key differentiator’

Deloitte’s Michelle Drew Rodriguez on why the U.S. is poised to lead manufacturing again.

02/11/2016


Michelle Drew Rodriguez, manufacturing leader for Deloitte Services LP's Center for Industry Insights. Courtesy: Deloitte Services LP's Center for Industry InsightsThe United States is expected to become the most competitive manufacturing nation over the next five years, with the current leader China sliding into second position, according to the 2016 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index report from the U.S. Council on Competitiveness and Deloitte's Global Consumer & Industrial Products Industry group.

"The 2016 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index shows the importance of policy, investment, and innovation for company and country-level competitiveness," said Deborah L. Wince-Smith, president and CEO of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness. "Its findings help companies shape their business strategies in order to compete successfully, and create jobs."

Michelle Drew Rodriguez, manufacturing leader for Deloitte Services LP's Center for Industry Insights, discussed the findings of the Advanced Technologies Initiative: Manufacturing & Innovation report and Deloitte's view of manufacturing heading into 2016.

CFE: It's a long time until 2020. What could keep the U.S. from achieving this top competitiveness ranking between now and then?

Rodriguez: A new global competitive environment is presenting America's leadership with fresh and persistent challenges. While we are seeing positive movements like strong demand from global markets, more cost-competitive energy prices, a fading labor rate arbitrage, and significant growth through innovation, there are still a number of areas that executives cite as challenges. Things like a significant talent shortage, the widening skills gap, as well as the high cost and complexity of compliance in an uncertain U.S. regulatory system all present unique hurdles in achieving the top ranking.

CFE: In a global manufacturing economy, where should the U.S. focus its attention as it looks to continue to grow?

Rodriguez: It's simple: talent and innovation. Talent-driven innovation could be a key differentiator going forward as manufacturers shift to higher-value advanced manufacturing. This could aid in creating premium products, processes, and services that capture higher margins and help sustain a competitive advantage. And to continuously innovate and grow, companies will likely need to compete for the best and brightest minds around the globe.

CFE: While technology is a huge driver for competitiveness, so is talent. What should the U.S. be doing to bring more manufacturing talent into the pipeline?

Rodriguez: A strong manufacturing industry is fundamentally vital to the prosperity of a nation. Therefore, we should do more to attract, recruit, and retain the highest caliber of talent to work in manufacturing. But in the U.S., manufacturing still faces a perception issue.

As a nation, we should raise awareness and visibility that this is no longer your grandfather's factory. We need to help students understand the breadth of high-tech, high-skill, and high-paying jobs manufacturing offers. For the past several years, Deloitte has been a key sponsor of efforts such as Manufacturing Day, a standing date when manufacturers open their doors and showcase innovative approaches to pushing scientific advances like self-driving cars, renewable energy sources, and molecular-level products. We should open the eyes of up-and-coming talent to the wealth of amazing possibilities within manufacturing.

CFE: Given the globalization of manufacturing, is "Made in the USA" still a viable idea?

Rodriguez: Absolutely. Now, probably more than ever, the strength and vitality of our U.S. manufacturing industry, coupled with our innovative ecosystem and entrepreneurial drive, positions us well to design and build the next generation of products here in America; products that will serve the global market. It's truly an exciting time and place to be in manufacturing.

Click here to read this story in the digital edition.



Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
June 2018
2018 Lubrication Guide, Motor and maintenance management, Control system migration
May 2018
Electrical standards, robots and Lean manufacturing, and how an aluminum packaging plant is helping community growth.
April 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
February 2018
Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
April 2018
Implementing a DCS, stepper motors, intelligent motion control, remote monitoring of irrigation systems
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
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 Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
Maintenance & Safety
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me