Manufacturing USA today released its 2018 Annual Report, which provides details on innovations taking place at 14 institutes across the U.S. that focus on technology and workforce development. The report showed strong membership growth across all of the institutes, funding increases that went beyond the required 1:1 government/industry target, and a large increase in the number of research and development projects initiated.
Workforce training efforts also skyrocketed, the report stated. In fiscal year 2018 (Oct. 1, 2017 through Sept. 30, 2018), 205,254 individuals participated in an education or workforce activity across the 14 institutes, compared with 14,000 participants in FY2017.
“The Manufacturing USA institutes are truly innovation hubs for manufacturing, providing real value to U.S. industry and promoting innovation in academia and federal laboratories,” the group said. “These hubs benefit the public by outreach to local K-12 students and teachers, stimulating workforce development in new technical fields, and providing for improved job opportunities. Advancing promising technologies into U.S. production and creation of higher-paying manufacturing jobs for U.S. workers increases our nation’s economic opportunity, while delivering the products needed by the nation and the world.”
Created in 2014, Manufacturing USA aims to secure U.S. global leadership in advanced manufacturing. The group’s institutes are public-private partnerships that assist American manufacturing enterprises in developing new products and new production technologies needed to accelerate the pace of economic expansion. Institutes and industrial partners collaborate with local school systems and academic institutions to promote and develop the advanced skills needed for the future manufacturing workforce to make the next generation of products. The group said federal support for these institutes “creates a framework that allows industry, academia, and federal laboratories to work together to take the most promising new technologies and transform them into products to be Made in America.”
The 2018 report said that all 14 institutes (see sidebar) reported membership increases during FY2018. Total memberships increased 50% over FY2017, and more than doubled over FY2016. Of the 1,937 member organizations, 63% were manufacturers (with 24% in academia and 13% other). Of the manufacturer groups, 70% represented small manufacturers, compared with 30% large manufacturers.
“Given that membership gains were made in each of the four membership categories, with an increase of 385 industry memberships from FY2017 to FY2018, it is clear that U.S. manufacturers are finding value in their participation and collaboration as institute members,” Manufacturing USA said.
The group reported that the institutes exceeded the required target of a 1-to-1 match for their funding of institute expenditures. The institutes spent $496.9 million during the period, with nonprogram matching expenditures totaling $313.5 million, and federal matching funds of $183.4 million. Funding from industry, academia and regional organizations were $1.70 for each $1 in base federal funding, the group said.
Funds expended included technology research and development efforts, capital-intensive efforts such as facility or manufacturing equipment purchases, institute operations, and education and workforce development programs.
Growth in projects
The report said the institutes were able to manage 476 technology projects during the FY2018 period, an increase from 273 projects in FY2017, and 191 projects in FY2016. Projects included things such as manufacturing-process research, proof-of-concept development, early system prototyping, and manufacturing demonstrations.
“Although these research and development projects, like any other R&D activity, have inherent risks, an average of 82% of key technical milestones were met in FY2018,” the report stated.
In an example of one such project, the report cited ARM’s Automated Wire Harness Assembly project team, led by Wichita State University. The project leverages advances in robotic manipulation, planning, and control for wire routing to develop and demonstrate an automated complex wire-harness assembly process, a labor-intensive process now completed entirely by hand.
Spurred by reports of a shortfall of 2.4 million workers between 2018 and 2028, training the workforce on advanced manufacturing processes is key to most, if not all, of the institutes, the report said. Each of the 14 institutes supports the recruitment, development, and in some cases, placement of advanced manufacturing workers in its particular technology area. “Education and workforce activities span ‘K through gray’ (from kindergartners to senior citizens),” the group said.
Out of the 205,254 individuals who participated in institute-led education and workforce activities in FY2018, 200,169 were students involved in an educational or training program, and 2,630 individuals were ones already in the workforce who completed an institute-led certificate, apprenticeship, or training program.
The report also said 2,455 teachers and trainers participated in institute-led instructor training programs.
The complete report from Manufacturing USA can be downloaded here (PDF).