This year has been a fast-paced, evolving, and exciting year—for the industry and for SME. Smart manufacturing is changing the way we think about how we make things, and we’re well into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
You may be familiar with a proposition called Moore’s Law relative to computing power.
It says that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits have doubled every year since their invention and will continue to do so; that the capabilities will double every two years.
As manufacturing companies become digital, they’ll accelerate right along with the pace of innovation.
This is an exciting time for manufacturing, with challenges and many, many opportunities. I’m extremely proud of SME’s activities and products.
We are fortunate to have three core elements: An experienced professional staff, strong partnerships for collaboration, and especially a talented community of manufacturing professionals that we connect with, to ultimately advance manufacturing and inspire the next generation.
You know that manufacturing is absolutely essential to the economy, providing good-paying jobs and opportunities to millions in the US. Part of our responsibility, as stewards for the industry, is to spread the word—to young people, to parents, to educators, to those who don’t know about today’s manufacturing.
On Manufacturing Day, we launched a new digital storytelling platform: Humans of Manufacturing, to showcase everyday manufacturing people who are really making things happen. Manufacturing is high-tech, exciting, and constantly evolving and advancing—and, so are the individuals who make up this vital industry.
This new digital channel includes e-newsletters, social media, and a website where manufacturing professionals will share their personal stories while also showcasing how manufacturing today is advanced and highly valued as an industry. We’ve already met Joshua Mook, a GE engineer and Lynnette Gideon, a seamstress that applied her fashion passion to designing robot covers. They are just two humans in manufacturing with wonderful stories to share. I welcome you to contact us, to tell your story or get involved.
Throughout SME’s history, technological expertise has been a hallmark, and it remains our mandate. The current pace of change and advancement in research, materials, IIoT, additive and hybrid tools and techniques, and more, drive growth, expansion, profitability—even as it challenges the capability, skills, and knowledge of manufacturers.
We have completed another round of regional technology-focused events and conferences, our industry-focused AeroDef Manufacturing and RAPID + TCT events, along with two Canadian events and two FABTECH series (in the US and Canada). If you haven’t yet heard, we are launching a brand new event in April in Boston—the Smart Manufacturing Experience. SME’s events are our largest live platform to learn about the latest manufacturing technology and make the connections you need. Our goal is for you to gain knowledge to help you make informed business decisions and drive your company’s and your own personal growth.
We work to ensure our events serve as manufacturing technology hubs, where you can learn about the technology solutions that are being applied today.
You’ll note that at all of our events, additive manufacturing often plays a key part of the features and conferences. We regularly hear from our additive manufacturing user community on how emerging 3D technologies are allowing them to increase speed to market, produce stronger and lighter parts, improve efficiency, reduce waste, eliminate costly tooling, and create products and geometries that couldn’t be created before.
The challenge is that users of additive manufacturing often rely on a trial-and-error approach to applications of the technology. They want to move faster, but there is a gap between knowledge and capability that limits users in realizing the technology’s full benefit. Manufacturers need a better way to evaluate the feasibility of producing additively manufactured parts amidst the still-developing and constantly changing field of machines, materials, and processes.
That’s where the Independent Technical Evaluation of Additive Manufacturing (ITEAM) comes into play. SME and General Motors and other partners, working with Michael Grieves at the Florida Institute of Technology, are developing a web-based evaluation system to aid manufacturers in making better decisions in additive manufacturing. The collaborative ITEAM project will help manufacturers make the right decision when it comes to how to manufacturer a product—with or without 3D technology.
Workforce development in manufacturing is a key strategic priority for SME, as manufacturers need to have the right workforce, with the right skills, to succeed and compete. Additionally, with rapidly and constantly advances in technology, the workforce must keep pace to remain competitive.
Technology is an ever-changing constant in the global and national business landscape, and while companies at the forefront of new innovations understand the value of technological ingenuity, they also recognize the critical need to build, develop, and strengthen the workforce to keep pace with advancements. This challenge is exacerbated with the silver tsunami of experienced manufacturing practitioners retiring and making adjustments to embrace incoming millennials.
By promoting the attractiveness of careers in manufacturing (the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows average wages and benefits of US manufacturing workers to be $84,525!), enticing young people to pursue manufacturing career pathways, and preparing the current and future workforce with competencies essential to manufacturing going forward, the strength and significant contribution of manufacturing to our nation will continue.
Manufacturing is changing at an accelerated pace. At SME, we embrace the opportunity to work at that intersection of manufacturing technology and developing a skilled workforce. We do that because it is how true innovation is realized.