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Blog Category: Manufacturing

NIST Research/Collaboration Efforts Key to Innovation and Economic Growth

Computer scientist Murugiah Souppaya investigates security techniques for protecting cloud computing systems from cyber attack  (Photo © Nicholas McIntosh)

Innovation drives economic growth and creates skilled, high-wage jobs. To maintain a high standard of living for its citizens, the United States must continue to produce new, high quality products and we must sell them in the global marketplace.  As Secretary John Bryson said recently, the U.S. must “Build it here and sell it everywhere.”

Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) helps U.S. companies innovate and improve their global competitiveness by providing world class laboratory results and services, business and technology assistance, and research grants.

As we look to the start of a new calendar year, here are just a few numbers that describe how NIST helps U.S. industry and science to create and retain jobs through an innovation-based economy:

  • 8 billion:  The number of times per day that computers across the United States and the world were synchronized with NIST official time over the Internet by the end of FY2011 using the automated NIST Internet Time Service. This number is continually growing. NIST official time is essential for everything from time stamping electronic financial transactions to operation of the U.S. electrical grid to precision timing of computer networks.
  • $8.3 billion:  The amount of new and retained sales generated in FY2010 through business and technology assistance from the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership according to an FY2011 survey of participating U.S. companies. Through a network of local centers providing services in every state and Puerto Rico, the program helps companies nationwide to create and retain jobs, increase profits, and save time and money.
  • Up to $5 billion: The amount of money the federal government may be able to save by 2015 by using cloud computing services and consolidating or closing 962 data centers as a result. In FY 2011, NIST issued a technology roadmap (PDF) to help speed the U.S. government’s adoption of cloud computing services. More than 1500 individuals from the public participated during FY2010 and FY2011 in NIST workshops to propose ways the government can exploit the cost advantages of cloud computing reliably and securely.
  • 19.1 million, 32,864, and 18,195:  The number of data sets downloaded from the Web, Standard Reference Materials (SRMs) sold and calibrations provided by NIST to help companies and researchers worldwide produce the highest quality products and scientific measurements. To name just a few examples, NIST data, SRMs and calibration services help high tech companies make computer chips with “wires” only 10s of billionths of a meter wide; build  aircraft engines made of high strength, corrosion resistant alloys; and ensure the safety of drinking water, medical tests, and pharmaceuticals.
  • 2900:  The number of guest researchers, facility users, and other associates hosted by NIST in FY 2011 from industry, academia, and government agencies. State-of-the-art technical knowledge shared through collaborations like these supports billions of dollars in sales of U.S. products that depend in some way on advanced technologies, data, and measurements. In FY 2011, NIST also had numerous patents available for licensing, had 103 formal Cooperative Research and Development Agreements in place with companies and scientific organizations, and published about more than 1,200 research papers in the open scientific literature.

Secretary Bryson: "Build it Here, Sell it Everywhere"

Bryson, gesturing during Chamber remarks, on podium (photo: U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson today laid out his vision for how the Department of Commerce can best partner with the business community to support the president’s jobs agenda at a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In his remarks, Bryson outlined his top three priorities to help American businesses "build it here and sell it everywhere," focusing on supporting advanced manufacturing, increasing our exports, and attracting more investment to America from all over the world. The former Chairman and CEO of Edison International, Bryson also served as a director on the boards of Boeing and the Walt Disney Company, and as a senior advisor to the private equity firm KKR, and he spoke about his experiences in the private sector and how the Department of Commerce is uniquely situated to support job creation.

“At the Commerce Department, we aren’t waiting to act. . . .We have a major role to play at this critical time to support job creation in America. We have an array of tools to help make our businesses more innovative, more efficient, and more competitive around the world,” he said. “I want to know how this administration and the Commerce Department can best help you. From these conversations, my discussions with the president and my own personal experience, I will prioritize one simple imperative. . . to help American businesses build it here and sell it everywhere.”

The Secretary's remarks at the Chamber marked his first major address, laying out his vision for the Department, focusing on manufacturing, exports and investing in America. Read about the new or recently announced Commerce Department initiatives to support these prioritiesPress release  |  Remarks | Video

President Obama Names Commerce Secretary John Bryson as Co-Chair of White House Office of Manufacturing Policy

President Obama today announced that Secretary John Bryson would join National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling as co-chair of the White House Office of Manufacturing Policy. The Office of Manufacturing Policy is part of the National Economic Council in the White House and works across federal government agencies to coordinate the execution of manufacturing programs and the development of manufacturing policy.

“At this make or break time for the middle class and our economy, we need a strong manufacturing sector that will put Americans back to work making products stamped with three proud words: Made in America,” said President Obama. “I am grateful that Secretary Bryson and Gene Sperling will head up this office to continue our efforts to revitalize this great American industry and fight for American workers and jobs.”

“John Bryson brings to this role decades of business leadership, a passion for manufacturing, and a strong understanding of its importance for jobs and our nation's economic competitiveness. He will play a key leadership role for the president and his economic team on these critical issues,” said Gene Sperling.

“Supporting the manufacturing sector will further our ability to innovate at home and compete around the world while generating more high-wage American jobs,” Secretary Bryson said. “Since day one, President Obama has been focused on supporting the entire United States manufacturing sector but especially small- and medium-sized businesses on the cutting edge of advanced manufacturing. We are introducing an ‘all hands on deck’ approach that coordinates all of our assets - public and private, federal, state, and regional.”

The White House Office of Manufacturing Policy will convene Cabinet-level meetings to aggressively implement the administration’s priority manufacturing initiatives. Release

American Companies Sweep Top Workplace Honors in Multinational Survey

Blue Ribbon

Guest blog post by Commerce Secretary John Bryson

Great Places to Work, a global research, consulting, and training firm, just unveiled its inaugural list of the 25 best multinational companies to work for in the entire world.  American companies landed 18 of the 25 top spots, including all 10 of the top 10.

Microsoft led the best workplace rankings, followed by SAS, NetApp, Google, FedEx Express, Cisco, Marriott, McDonald’s, Kimberly Clark and SC Johnson.  Also making the list were American Express, Medtronic, 3M, National Instruments, Mars, Accenture, Coca-Cola and Quintiles.

In businesses across the spectrum – information technology, services, manufacturing–innovative U.S. companies are furthering a reputation for excellence and creating opportunity for their shareholders, their customers and their employees.  In the process, they are modeling best practices in world markets and making the American dream possible for people here … and throughout the globe.

The 25 best multinational business workplaces were selected based on data from surveys taken by more than 2.5 million employees and managers, representing a 10-million strong workforce, in thousands of companies across six continents.

In his book, That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind the World It Invented and How We can Come Back, Thomas Friedman writes of America’s visible demonstration of the connections between freedom, economic growth and human fulfillment.  And he noted that the power of example is a hugely potent social force.

In being recognized for workplace environments characterized by credibility, trust, respect, fairness, pride in accomplishment and camaraderie, these top-ranked multinational American companies are powerful examples to the world.

Commerce and Transportation Departments Forge Partnership to Boost Domestic Manufacturing Across America

NIST logo

Partnership will help revitalize the domestic railway manufacturing sector, support Obama Administration’s historic investments in transportation and create jobs

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank today announced a partnership to encourage the creation of domestic manufacturing jobs and opportunities for U.S. suppliers through transportation investments. 

The Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) will help to ensure manufacturers meet the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (U.S. DOT) strict “Buy America” and “Buy American” standards, connecting U.S. manufacturers and suppliers for work on highways, railways and transit projects, and in the process help to create jobs.

“Investment in transportation is a critical piece of President Obama’s American Jobs Act,” said Secretary LaHood.  “Not only are we improving how we move people and goods, but we are strengthening our economy by providing opportunities for American companies and their employees to build our transportation system here at home.”

With a network in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, MEP serves more than 34,000 American suppliers, helping them to retool their manufacturing capabilities to meet demand, compete in the global marketplace and sell American-made products all over the world. 

“This initiative is a win for workers and communities across America,” said Acting Secretary Blank. “The Manufacturing Extension Partnership will connect U.S. manufacturers and suppliers with hundreds of millions of dollars in upcoming highway, railway, and airport projects, providing new job opportunities in every corner of the country.”

MEP will leverage over 1,300 expert manufacturing assistance field staff in over 350 locations to provide knowledge of local manufacturing capabilities from across the nation. MEP will identify suppliers’ production and technical capabilities to match them up with viable business opportunities that may have otherwise gone to foreign suppliers, ensuring maximum economic benefit for taxpayer-funded transportation investments across all modes.

Manufacturing Council Ensuring We Build It In America

Acting Secretary Blank Chairs the 5th Manufacturing Council Meeting

Let’s build it in America.

That’s what we’ve done for generations.  And today, the private sector members of the Manufacturing Council had the opportunity to meet with Acting Secretary Blank, Under Secretary Sánchez, Assistant Secretary Lamb-Hale and others from the federal government to continue the discussion on how to enhance our global competitiveness and make the important investments necessary to ensure American manufacturers and communities across the country can continue to innovate here, manufacture here and have the skilled workforce they need to do it.

The Council and the team at Commerce and within the Obama administration are committed to helping businesses invest, grow and create jobs in America. We are tackling head-on the issues that the manufacturing industry, through the Council, have identified as most important. Some of these issues are a comprehensive energy strategy, passage of the trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panamaworkforce development initiatives and tax and regulatory matters.

And, we’re making progress. Today, Secretary Blank discussed the American Jobs Act with the Council, highlighting, in particular, the pieces on infrastructure investment, the extension of 100% business expensing and payroll tax holidays that the Council has addressed.

And, we’re also making strides toward connecting the key players in these areas so they join forces. The Council is working with Skills for America’s Future, Change the Equation, the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and the Departments of Labor and Education to look at concrete next steps to address the workforce issues. The Commerce Department, along with partner agencies, announced the winners of our i6 Green Challenge. These winners will have the ability to leverage resources from five federal agencies to take their clean technology innovations and bring them to market.

Manufacturing: The Resurgence of American Innovation and Jobs

Tektite founder, Scott Mele, receiving the Export Achievement Award from the Department of Commerce. Scott Mele on left, Congressman Rush Holt on right.

Guest blog post from Miles Bodnar, Marketing Manager at Tektite Industries

Cross-posted on the NIST MEP blog

There’s something really great that’s going on in America right now: people are talking about manufacturing again. If you ask individuals from the baby boomer generation, they’ll tell you that manufacturing was a cornerstone of the economy when they were growing up. Everyone’s job was associated with manufacturing in one way or another and we were proud of our products Made in the USA. Manufacturing was a part of patriotism.

Since the baby boomer generation has grown up, the world has certainly changed. What hasn’t changed though is that manufacturing is still a pillar of our economy. America is still the number one manufacturing country in the world; we out-produce number-two China by more than 40 percent. Despite our economic challenges in 2009, America created an estimated $1.7 trillion worth of goods according to the United Nations. Manufacturing will always serve as the foundation of our economy for two main reasons: manufacturing challenges us to become more innovative and manufacturing growth creates jobs.

The timeline of our company, Tektite Industries, is the perfect example of this. Like many start ups, company founder Scott Mele founded Tektite in his garage in 1990, developing and distributing the most advanced and quality flashlight in the world. A year later, the organization was manufacturing a Chemical Lightstick Alternative® and Mark-Lite®, which was designed to reduce solid waste produced by chemical sticks there by creating a more “green” alternative.  Over the past 20 years, our company has developed into a vertically integrated LED lighting manufacturer that produces specialty lighting products, incorporating leading edge technology. From specialty flashlights, strobes, to signaling lights, we mold our parts, assemble our electronics, CNC machine, and stamp our metal parts all in New Jersey.

We here at Tektite Industries have only been able to evolve throughout the decades because of innovation. Manufacturing never stops–it just changes. Innovation is all about identifying ways to differentiate ourselves and implementing new ideas to serve new markets. While foreign products may be cheaper in price, we out perform all foreign competitors and produce the best quality available. We use technology and innovative ideas to train our workforce, becoming more efficient and productive while creating new jobs. This creates a ripple effect throughout our economy. It is estimated that for every new manufacturing job created, four to seven additional jobs are created for the economy.

NIST Working to Develop Adaptable Robots That Can Assist—and Even Empower—Human Production Workers

NIST’s new Autonomous Assembly Testbed includes an automated guided vehicle (left), conveyers, mannequins and an underslung robot arm (right).

Guest blog by Albert J. Wavering, the Chief of the Intelligent Systems Division of the Engineering Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Robots have explored Mars, descended into volcanoes, and roamed the ocean depths.  Today, they also perform humdrum chores, such as vacuuming and waxing floors.  And in between the ordinary and the extraordinary, robots are carrying out a growing array of tasks, from painting and spot-welding in factories to delivering food trays in hospitals.

But, when it comes to these automated machines, you haven’t seen anything yet, especially in the manufacturing world, where robots were first put to use 50 years ago in a General Motors factory.  In fact, the first factory robot became something of celebrity, earning an appearance, along with one of its inventors, on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Even today, however, manufacturing robots are akin to electromechanical hulks that blindly perform relatively simple, repetitive jobs and—Tonight Show demo notwithstanding—must be safely separated from human workers by fences and gates.

In laboratories around the world, the race is on to build a new generation of robots that are smarter, more flexible, and far more versatile than the current one.  A successful leap to more adept and adaptable robots could set the stage for a revolution in U.S. manufacturing that reaches from the largest factories to the smallest job shops.

Automation technology has found a place performing repetitive and, often, dirty and dangerous factory tasks. It also has helped U.S. manufacturers to achieve productivity increases that are the envy of the world.

But the best could be yet to come.  The next wave of robots could be the springboard to new U.S. companies and new domestic manufacturing jobs.

Resources for Manufacturers - A Month in Review

All month long, Commerce.gov highlighted programs, resources and efforts made to help American manufacturers grow faster and become more competitive. Why? Because the manufacturing sector has been a main driver of the economic recovery over the past two years, with over 230,000 jobs added since the beginning of 2010. The manufacturing sector currently employs over 11 million Americans, providing good-paying jobs for millions of families and serving as the backbone of communities across the country – a brighter future for American manufacturers will mean a brighter future for the American economy.

If you missed any of our posts, here is a quick digest:

Made in America continues to shine

Scott Paul, Executive Director for the Alliance for American Manufacturing

Guest post by Scott Paul, Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

A strong and vibrant manufacturing base is essential to our nation's economic stability, a strong middle class, and employment opportunities for young men and women across America. The good news is that manufacturing output and employment have been growing over the past 15 months, and in many ways, the sector has played an outsized role in our economic recovery. But our nation will never realize its full potential to grow the manufacturing sector of our economy without a robust strategy and aggressive set of public policies to complement private sector efforts by business and labor to maintain a globally competitive industry.

The case for a permanent capacity for strategic planning on our manufacturing base, evolving to make use of our workers’ skills and the latest technology as well as responding to global trends, could not be stronger when one considers that no matter how innovative or competitive individual manufacturers may be, there are some problems they simply cannot solve on their own. This was recently articulated by Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

  • Research and development can be expensive and hard to capture profits, such as in advanced batteries;
  • No single firm could possibly coordinate national projects like the smart grid or internet;
  • Firms often need assistance in applying academic innovations to the production process;
  • Manufacturers often face barriers to accessing credit for entry, expansion, and innovation; and
  • Manufacturers need assistance in exporting as well as push back against unfair trade practices.

The Commerce Department leads the federal government’s efforts to assist manufacturers with these challenges. For example, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program provides on-the-ground services. The International Trade Administration (ITA) helps manufacturers boost exports and seek relief from unfair trade practices. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers cutting edge research on production, innovation, and commercialization.