Manufacturing

How Cloud Apps Are Driving Manufacturing Innovation

Manufacturers aren't just embracing cloud apps, they're proactively implementing procedures designed to optimize employees' technology use. 64 percent of manufacturers enforce cloud app policies and more than half of manufacturing employees report that their IT departments are responsive to requests for new tools. This IT savvy has not only helped firms overcome legacy challenges like supply chain management and employee performance, but also bodes well for the industry's future.

Where Will 3D Technology Take Us Next?

This week I had the privilege of attending RAPID 2015 in Long Beach, California. The conference and exposition has presented the latest and greatest in 3D technology for the past 25 years, and this year was no exception. From TE Connectivity’s unveiling of a fully functional 3D printed motorcycle to Forecast 3D’s reveal of a race car with more than 70 3D printed parts, the show floor was alive with innovation and ingenuity.

Driverless cars may cut U.S. sales by 40%, Barclays says

U.S. auto sales may drop about 40 percent in the next 25 years because of shared driverless cars, forcing mass-market producers such as General Motors and Ford Motor Co. to slash output, a Barclays Plc analyst said. Vehicle ownership rates may fall by almost half as families move to having just one car, according to a report published today by the analyst, Brian Johnson. Driverless cars will travel twice as many miles as current autos because they will transport each family member during the day, he wrote.

NASA Challenges Designers to Construct Habitat for Deep Space Exploration

NASA and the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, known as America Makes, are holding a new $2.25 million competition to design and build a 3-D printed habitat for deep space exploration, including the agency’s journey to Mars. "The future possibilities for 3-D printing are inspiring, and the technology is extremely important to deep space exploration," said Sam Ortega, Centennial Challenges program manager.

NIST, NSF to set manufacturing research priorities

The U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) will establish a consortium to provide private-sector input on national advanced manufacturing research and development priorities. NSF has released a solicitation, calling for applications from organizations to administer the consortium through a cooperative agreement.

Closing the Skills Gap in Automation: A Call for Action

Manufacturers are adopting more automation than ever before. For many, it’s no longer a question of whether to automate, only when and to what extent. With wages offshore rising, robot prices down and performance up, robot sales are at an all all-time high. Meanwhile, an aging workforce moves closer to retirement. Misconceptions of manufacturing as crude and demoralizing persist. Women and other minorities are still underrepresented. The skills gap is growing. Demand for automation talent outweighs supply.

Why America Has a Shortage of Skilled Workers

It has been at least 25 years since the alarm was sounded on skills shortages in manufacturing and the threat of retiring baby boomers. Just about everyone who follows manufacturing has known about this problem for a long time. So the question is: Why didn’t we invest in advanced skill training before it became a serious problem? The answer is money and the avoidance of training investment.

Why Solving Poverty through "Higher Education" Is a Mistake

These are jobs that can pay decently and that go begging. For example, according to Deloitte, there will be 2 million manufacturing jobs that go wanting over the next decade. The reason? Companies can’t find people with the skills needed to work in new high-tech factories and to run equipment. Then there are occupations like electricians, plumbers, and robotics technicians that don’t have enough workers because kids are taught to be interested in only a handful of more glamorous or socially-acceptable occupations.

Hey, Kid: Want to Build Cars When You Grow Up? Another Push for Manufacturing Skills

Honda is best known as a car maker, but it is also doing some interesting things to drive the American economy in the right direction, as we've been reporting lately. A case in point: Honda recently announced a new, $1 million investment in Ohio-based workforce development for an innovative program called EPIC, which will focus on creating more interest in manufacturing careers and bolstering education and training for the high-tech manufacturing jobs of the future.

Spiderlike Robots Could Build Giant Space Structures

Humanity could soon be building huge structures in space one piece at a time, the way spiders spin their webs here on Earth. A company called Tethers Unlimited is developing an in-space manufacturing system called "SpiderFab," which would use arachnidlike robots to put together large objects in orbit or beyond. SpiderFab could help build big radio antennas, spacecraft booms and solar arrays in the next decade or so, said Rob Hoyt, CEO and chief scientist of Tethers Unlimited.

Energy Department Offers Conditional Loan to Alcoa for Automotive Sector

“Alcoa’s innovative, high-strength aluminum solutions are leading the light weighting revolution now happening in the automotive industry,” said Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Alcoa is pleased to be part of the government’s program to encourage a greater shift to aluminum intensive vehicles that are safer, lighter and more fuel-efficient.”

Can manufacturing regain a Renaissance lost?

Are happy days here again for American manufacturing? Optimists say yes: High global shipping costs, rising Chinese wages and a domestic shale gas boom are bringing appliance manufacturing back to Kentucky, creating automotive jobs in Tennessee and South Carolina, and leading an American competitive resurgence in a broad swath of industries. The reality is that manufacturing in America is still on a very shaky footing.

America’s innovation ecosystem may get bipartisan budget boost

Many pundits give President Obama’s budget proposal little chance of passing in the Republican-controlled Congress. In fact, the House and Senate budget blueprints have set the stage for a likely veto struggle. Dysfunctional, hyper-partisanship may continue to rule Washington, but at least one very important part of the budget is cause for hope: federal investments in science and technology innovation. There are encouraging signs that America’s innovation ecosystem will get a bipartisan boost this year.

Manufacturing Universities: The Next-Generation University-Industry Partnership

ITIF praises Senators Coons, Ayotte, and Gillibrand for introducing this important piece of legislation which will help transform university-industry relations, improve America’s innovation capacity, and ultimately spur significant economic and employment growth. A national system of manufacturing universities will incentivize institutions to focus more on the advanced manufacturing research and applications that are increasingly needed in the ‘New Economy.’ It will also produce graduates that are better equipped with the knowledge and skills needed for careers in emerging, innovation-based industries. - Dr. Robert Atkinson, President of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF)

3-D Printing Makes a Mark on Engineering Education

What's the best preparation for someone interested in entering this new field? Hull, who has a bachelor's degree in engineering physics from the University of Colorado, says that if he were starting off today in the field he created, he'd pay a lot more attention to organic chemistry and materials science. "A lot of the technology has to do with how you manipulate materials," he says. Hull also recommends becoming proficient at computer-aided design.

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