Why Should Americans Care About Manufacturing Day?

October 7, 2016

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Today we join communities across the nation in celebrating Manufacturing Day. Manufacturing has been a foundation for the nation since 1791 when Alexander Hamilton, our first Secretary of the Treasury, delivered the “Report on the Subject of Manufactures” to Congress. He emphasized, “Not only the wealth, but the independence and security of a country, appear to be materially connected with the prosperity of manufactures.” Manufacturing was and continues to be recognized as crucial to the U.S. economy.

That’s not to say nothing has changed in the last 225 years. U.S. manufacturing is strong and growing thanks to American ingenuity. We see incredible new technologies emerge that revolutionize the way we manufacture goods every day. As an example, pervasive computing embeds microprocessors in everyday objects so they can communicate as they are made and used in an “Internet of Things”.  This computing and communication drives innovation in manufacturing, directly linking designers, producers and users of the things we use. These smart technologies make manufacturing more productive, more energy efficient, and more effective.

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is another technology that changes the way we think about manufacturing. It reduces waste and energy consumption while allowing designers, users and manufacturers to co-create their ideas on a computer and see them come to life in minutes or hours as opposed to weeks or even months. Cutting down lead time gives manufacturers the opportunity to take more risk in their designs and innovate at the speed of thought.  

We have also seen the expansion of energy resources available to manufacturers and the nation overall. The diversity of information tools, energy management practices, and renewable energy technologies now available have been game changing. Factories can now incorporate clean energy technologies into their systems, utilizing wind, solar, geothermal, and other types of renewable energy to complement electricity from the grid. Energy consumption in manufacturing accounts for about one-third of our nation’s energy footprint, so efficient energy use by manufacturers is crucial today and for the future.

So why should you care about manufacturing? It’s a major driver of our economic success. By leveraging technology, there can be more than three jobs created outside of the manufacturing sector for every advanced manufacturing job.  According to the Manufacturing Institute, over the next decade nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely be available.  These are quality jobs – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average manufacturing worker in the U.S. earned $79,553 in 2014, including pay and benefits, compared to the average of $64,204 across all industries. Manufacturing also has the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector: for every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.81 is added to the economy.

Manufacturing innovation plays a key role in determining how and where products are made and how quickly consumers can get their hands on new products. When products can be rapidly innovated and go from concept to prototype to market all here in the U.S., we ensure that our country remains a global leader in manufacturing competitiveness.  

Here at the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), every day is a chance to recognize and celebrate manufacturing. Our role is to partner with industry, universities and laboratories to address challenges through research, development, and deployment of advanced manufacturing technologies and practices. Our investments in manufacturing innovation help these partners overcome the risk of adoption of new technologies. AMO also invests in education and workforce development to maximize talent in clean energy manufacturing careers. Manufacturers are eager to hire employees with the necessary skills and education to fill these jobs. Of the 3.2 million new manufacturing jobs identified by the Manufacturing Institute, up to 2 million require new skills based on additional training and technology know-how for workers. By linking technology development partners with educational partners, we help support the development of the tools and training for advanced manufacturing.

We aren’t alone in this mission to drive manufacturing innovation. It takes collaboration to increase our nation’s manufacturing competitiveness and spur job creation. We support a number of public-private partnerships that focus on cross-cutting, platform technologies which can be applied across different manufacturing industries. We’ve learned that the model of shared, industry-oriented innovation infrastructure is an impactful way to bring together leaders and do-ers from industry and academia to highlight opportunities and achieve common goals in the future of advanced manufacturing. We know this because of the industry support and follow-on funding we have seen for ideas and technologies that started within our partnerships.

Whether you’ve spent your entire career in manufacturing or you’re just beginning to build your knowledge in the topic, there is always more to learn. I hope you’ll join us today, and every day, in celebrating manufacturing.

Together, we can unlock our potential for a cleaner, safer, and economically secure future.

You can find a list of Manufacturing Day events across the country here

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