Business Operations

At a time when breaking news and shifting policy environments move faster than ever, our members benefit from innovative programs that keep them at the forefront of the manufacturing industry and support their bottom line.

Business Operations

Making the Business Case for Sustainability

a person standing in front of a car

Ecolab’s mission hasn’t changed much in more than 100 years. It’s still “bringing science to our customers in a way that drives performance, productivity and less water and energy use.”

  • That’s according to Ecolab Chief Sustainability Officer Emilio Tenuta, who says being climate-minded is not only “the right thing to do,” but also at the core of the St. Paul, Minnesota–headquartered water, hygiene and infection-prevention company’s operating model.

A dual purpose: “We make the business case for why sustainability and [profitability] can go hand-in-hand when it comes to driving solutions,” Tenuta told us recently. “It’s why 48,000 Ecolab associates wake up every morning with the feeling, ‘We’re making a real difference in the world.’”

  • Ecolab—which recently announced that 100% of its European operations are now powered by renewable energy sources—helps millions of customers worldwide reduce their environmental impact while promoting food safety, maintaining clean environments and optimizing resource use.
  • “At Ecolab, we talk about eROI—Exponential Return on Investment,” Tenuta explained. “It’s about understanding that we have the ability to deliver on a business outcome—profitability—while also delivering an environmental impact.”

Don’t forget water: Often neglected in sustainability conversations, Tenuta said, is water. For a full picture of the effect of conservation and innovation efforts on climate, water needs to be factored in.

  • “Sometimes we forget the role that water plays in addressing climate change,” he continued. Depending on the type of manufacturing, up to 75% of energy is driven by the water systems. You have to heat it, treat it, pump it, cool it. …Water doesn’t necessarily get the same headlines as climate, but if you follow the water, that’s going to have a lasting impact” on the environment, while also saving you money.

A holistic approach: In addition to being recognized regularly for its environmental stewardship, Ecolab is routinely named to most-ethical-company lists. That’s no accident; to the company, caring for the planet goes hand-in-hand with caring for people, Tenuta told the NAM.

  • “Workplace quality is just [one way of] demonstrating a holistic approach to the world,” he said. “That’s how we think about it at Ecolab. It’s for us as a company but it’s also for society as a whole.” 

A sustainable partnership: In furtherance of its financial and net-zero emissions goals, the firm recently partnered with Ford to electrify its service and sales vehicles.

  • Ecolab—which has “a longstanding relationship dating back almost 100 years” with the automaker, according to Tenuta—has pledged to both halve emissions from its own operations and help its customers reduce their emissions by 6 million metric tonnes by 2030. “To get there, we need to implement initiatives like electrifying our fleet,” he said.
  • Under the program, Ecolab will buy and deploy more than 1,000 Ford F-150 Lightning and Mustang Mach-E electric vehicles for its employees in California by 2025. The company will then move to electrify its entire North American sales and service fleet by 2030. “This allows us to support our associates so they can be more productive in their day-to-day work serving our customers and getting to net zero.”

Advice for manufacturers: Achieving sustainable operations doesn’t happen overnight—but undertaking the efforts to get there is well worth manufacturers’ time, Tenuta said.

  • “Sustainability requires a multifaceted approach that considers all things: social, emotional, economic. It’s about in some ways taking a longer-term view of progress and opportunity. That can be challenging, but by elevating innovation and long-term commitment, companies can build a more sustainable future … and boost profitability.”
Business Operations

IRI Announces Winner of Prestigious Holland Award

Should manufacturers strive to be “cutting edge”?

That’s the question explored in “Is ‘Cutting-Edge’ Good? Assessing Product Newness Factors in Technologically Turbulent Environments,” the paper that won the Innovation Research Interchange’s 2023 Maurice Holland Award.

  • The honor, named for the IRI’s founder, has been bestowed annually since 1982 by the IRI, the NAM’s innovation division. It goes to the best article published in the IRI’s flagship publication, Research-Technology Management.
  • Winning papers exemplify a commitment to significant work in research and development and innovation management, originality of new management concepts and excellence in presentation.
  • This year’s paper, by Michael Obal, Todd Morgan and Wesley Friske, does all three, according to the IRI. 

Providing value: “In innovation, novelty generates the most attention but does not always translate into better value for the company and customers,” said Research-Technology Management Editor-in-Chief Yat Ming Ooi.

  • “This article tells readers when and to whom novel new products matter and why companies need to strike the right balance to ensure better new product performance.”

Authors respond: Research-Technology Management “is a leading academic journal for innovation-related research, and thus having an opportunity to publish an article in RTM is a significant accomplishment in its own right,” said co-author Friske, an associate professor at Missouri State University’s marketing department. “I am also grateful for the opportunity to share this award with my friends and co-authors, and it is particularly important to me now that Todd is no longer with us.”

  • Co-author Morgan, an assistant professor at Cleveland State University’s Monte Ahuja College of Business, passed away in 2023.
  • “I’m honored to receive the Holland Award from Research-Technology Management alongside Todd and Wes,” said co-author Obal, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Manning School of Business. “All three of us have aimed to publish academic work that impacts practitioners throughout our careers, [so] receiving an award from a journal that specifically focuses on bridging the gap between academia and practice is especially gratifying.”
  • “This paper and award are bittersweet as Todd is no longer with us,” Obal continued. “[But] I am encouraged that his work will continue to have an impact.” 

About the IRI: The IRI offers insights, case studies, research, benchmarks and strategic connections—all built around a set of innovation growth drivers as determined by members annually. Click here to learn more about the IRI.

Business Operations

Honda Winds Up a One-of-Kind Wind Tunnel

If the Honda Automotive Labs of Ohio facility is a marvel of technology and design, it is also a $124 million testament to the role of cutting-edge engineering in automobile manufacturing.

  • “When I started 30 years ago, few really cared about aerodynamics,” said Honda Development & Manufacturing of America Full-Scale Wind Tunnel Lead Mike Unger with a wink. “Now everybody wants to talk to me.”

New interest: Though wind tunnel testing dates back many years, the increasing emphasis in recent years on greater fuel efficiency has brought a new wave of interest in the field.

  • Honda owns three full-sized wind tunnels near its global headquarters, as well as several smaller test facilities around the world for examining scale models.
  • But in 2015, Honda—which for decades had been sending its U.S.-based people, cars and tools all over the world for wind tunnel testing or else booking time at third party-owned facilities in America—began mulling constructing a North American wind tunnel, too.

Behold, HALO: The result was HALO, unveiled in 2022 in a 110,000-square-foot facility in East Liberty, Ohio.

  • To make it, the company had gathered its “wind tunnel road warriors”—Honda team members who boasted decades of combined experience in the world’s most advanced research facilities—and asked them how they’d do it better.
  • Among their top requests was the need for better, faster communications with the designers and builders of the cars they were testing. To facilitate this, HALO was strategically located just across from a Honda development center and a mere 10-minute drive from two manufacturing plants (including the Marysville, Ohio, facility where Honda has been building automobiles since 1982).

Wind-tested, Honda approved: Every new Honda passenger vehicle model undergoes extensive aerodynamic and acoustic testing during its design phase, and further changes are often made during the manufacturing process. Race cars, meanwhile, are tested primarily with an eye to managing the downforce caused by passing air.

The new digs: Now, instead of hashing out design challenges across oceans, everyone sits side-by-side in the same control room.

The state-of-the-art site also boasts a fully outfitted machine shop, custom loading bays and a car wash (the last a recommendation of Honda engineers who had more than once found themselves outside a wind tunnel with a dusty test car and a bucket of soapy water).

  • “Absolutely everything was designed with intention,” said HALO Business Strategy Lead Chris Combs.

The details: The tunnel itself is an elaborately engineered circuit. It comprises a settling chamber, a heat exchanger the size of a movie screen and a safety grill to catch any debris that might come loose and threaten HALO’s pulmonary system: a colossal, 6,700-horsepower fan with 12 hollow carbon fiber blades that are 26 feet long each.

  • Turning at 250 rotations per minute, the fan drives air through the tunnel and into an anechoic chamber.
  • On a recent day, that chamber held both a race car (for downforce testing) and an SUV from the plant across the field (for acoustic work).

Saving time: At most wind tunnels, switching from aerodynamic work to acoustic testing takes nearly two hours. At the HALO wind tunnel, however, technicians swapped the Indy car for the SUV and reconfigured the test chamber in about 20 minutes.

  • When it designed the facility, Honda focused on “simple things like that—things that really promote efficiency,” said HALO Operations Manager Jimmy Przeklasa.

Quiet and furry: HALO’s test chamber is lined with acoustic tiles and “teddy bear fur,” a soft, sound-absorbing material.

  • Even with the wind blowing, the room is so quiet that technicians working inside must don harnesses to prevent them from stepping into a gale they can neither see nor hear.
  • A software system translates the wind noises into visuals, similar to the way a weather radar displays a moving storm.

Complex but simpleTechnologically and visually dazzling, the HALO wind tunnel can seem like a futuristic fever dream: color-coded maps of the whistling wind, a two-story fan more finely tuned than a jet engine and a scale capable of sensing a breeze.

  • In fact, from its inception, the goal of creating the HALO wind tunnel was simple: make cutting-edge aerodynamic and acoustic research as easy, intuitive and cost-effective as possible. And Honda’s done it.

The last word: “This is the latest and the greatest,” Unger said. “This place is unmatched.”

Business Operations

Honda Winds Up a One-of-a-Kind Wind Tunnel

If the Honda Automotive Labs of Ohio facility is a marvel of technology and design, it is also a $124 million testament to the role of cutting-edge engineering in automobile manufacturing.

  • “When I started 30 years ago, few really cared about aerodynamics,” said Honda Development & Manufacturing of America Full-Scale Wind Tunnel Lead Mike Unger with a wink. “Now everybody wants to talk to me.”

New interest: Though wind tunnel testing dates back many years, the increasing emphasis in recent years on greater fuel efficiency has brought a new wave of interest in the field.

  • Honda owns three full-sized wind tunnels near its global headquarters, as well as several smaller test facilities around the world for examining scale models.
  • But in 2015, Honda—which for decades had been sending its U.S.-based people, cars and tools all over the world for wind-tunnel testing or else booking time at third party-owned facilities in America—began mulling constructing a North American wind tunnel, too.

Behold, HALO: The result was HALO, unveiled in 2022 in a 110,000-square-foot facility in East Liberty, Ohio.

  • To make it, the company had gathered its “wind tunnel road warriors”—Honda team members who boasted decades of combined experience in the world’s most advanced research facilities—and asked them how they’d do it better.
  • Among their top requests was the need for better, faster communications with the designers and builders of the cars they were testing. To facilitate this, HALO was strategically located just across from a Honda development center and a mere 10-minute drive from two manufacturing plants (including the Marysville, Ohio, facility where Honda has been building automobiles since 1982).

Wind-tested, Honda approved: Every new Honda passenger vehicle model undergoes extensive aerodynamic and acoustic testing during its design phase, and further changes are often made during the manufacturing process. Race cars, meanwhile, are tested primarily with an eye to managing the downforce caused by passing air.

The new digs: Now, instead of hashing out design challenges across oceans, everyone sits side-by-side in the same control room.

The state-of-the-art site also boasts a fully outfitted machine shop, custom loading bays and a car wash (the last a recommendation of Honda engineers who had more than once found themselves outside a wind tunnel with a dusty test car and a bucket of soapy water).

  • “Absolutely everything was designed with intention,” said HALO Business Strategy Lead Chris Combs.

The details: The tunnel itself is an elaborately engineered circuit. It comprises a settling chamber, a heat exchanger the size of a movie screen and a safety grill to catch any debris that might come loose and threaten HALO’s pulmonary system: a colossal, 6,700-horsepower fan with 12 hollow carbon fiber blades that are 26 feet long each.

  • Turning at 250 rotations per minute, the fan drives air through the tunnel and into an anechoic chamber.
  • On a recent day, that chamber held both a race car (for downforce testing) and an SUV from the plant across the field (for acoustic work).

Saving time: At most wind tunnels, switching from aerodynamic work to acoustic testing takes nearly two hours. At the HALO wind tunnel, however, technicians swapped the Indy car for the SUV and reconfigured the test chamber in about 20 minutes.

  • When it designed the facility, Honda focused on “simple things like that—things that really promote efficiency,” said HALO Operations Manager Jimmy Przeklasa.

Quiet and furry: HALO’s test chamber is lined with acoustic tiles and “teddy bear fur,” a soft, sound-absorbing material.

  • Even with the wind blowing, the room is so quiet that technicians working inside must don harnesses to prevent them from stepping into a gale they can neither see nor hear.
  • A software system translates the wind noises into visuals, similar to the way a weather radar displays a moving storm.

Complex but simple: Technologically and visually dazzling, the HALO wind tunnel can seem like a futuristic fever dream: color-coded maps of the whistling wind, a two-story fan more finely tuned than a jet engine and a scale capable of sensing a breeze.

  • In fact, from its inception, the goal of creating the HALO wind tunnel was simple: make cutting-edge aerodynamic and acoustic research as easy, intuitive and cost-effective as possible. And Honda’s done it.

The last word: “This is the latest and the greatest,” Unger said. “This place is unmatched.”

 

Business Operations

Skilled Trades See Interest Uptick

More young people are choosing skilled trade jobs after high school, The Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

What’s going on: “Enrollment in vocational training programs is surging as overall enrollment in community colleges and four-year institutions has fallen. The number of students enrolled in vocational-focused community colleges rose 16% last year to its highest level since the National Student Clearinghouse began tracking such data in 2018. The ranks of students studying construction trades rose 23% during that time, while those in programs covering HVAC and vehicle maintenance and repair increased 7%.”

Why it’s important: The trades, including manufacturing, have experienced a worker shortage in recent years as the older generation of employees retires.

  • Finding and retaining quality talent is consistently a top business challenge among manufacturers, according to the NAM’s Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, a quarterly polling of the industry.
  • But now, trade-apprenticeship demand is surging, perhaps a signal that positions will start to fill.

Perception change: For many years the vocational education wing of one high school in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, was called “greaser hall,” but lately that’s started to change, a counselor there told the Journal.

  • “[B]usinesses have raised funds and donated new equipment, including robotic arms … [and] those classrooms now sit at the building’s main entrance. ‘There’s still a presumption that four-year college is the gold standard, but it doesn’t take as much work to get people to buy into the viability of other options,’ [he said].”

The last word: Indeed, the Manufacturing Institute, the NAM’s 501(c)3 nonprofit workforce development and education affiliate, is seeing significant growth in its FAME initiative, an earn-while-you-learn training program with more than 40 chapters in 16 states—and more forming all the time. FAME, which was founded by Toyota and is now led by the MI, is truly the American model of skills training, according to MI President and Executive Director Carolyn Lee.

  • “FAME is training thousands of global best technicians nationwide and the number of program participants is on the rise,” she said. “This is good news for manufacturing, which sorely needs talent to continue to make the many, many things people use every day.”
Business Operations

Innovation First: How Oshkosh Corp.’s 107 Years of Experience Deliver Innovative Solutions

Oshkosh Corp. manufactures a wide array of purpose-built vehicles and equipment, but at its heart, it’s an industrial technology company focused on engineering, President and CEO John Pfeifer told the NAM recently.

“If you look at us up close, we’re really an engineering company,” Pfeifer said. “If you look at a fire truck up close, you’d be amazed at the amount of design engineering [that goes into] to this machine.”

A fire truck boom: Fire trucks are indeed a big part of business at the 107-year-old company, headquartered in its namesake Oshkosh, Wisconsin. In fact, there’s such a demand for the vehicles—which Oshkosh offers in more than 300 different shades of red—from municipalities throughout the U.S., the firm has a two-and-a-half-year backlog.

  • The major reason: rising home values. Counties and towns get their revenue from property tax receipts. When those are strong, as they have been in recent years, the governments can afford to upgrade their fleets—which they’re now doing in earnest, Pfeifer said.

Innovation = safety + productivity: They’re going to Oshkosh for the very reason Pfeifer considers the company first and foremost an engineering outfit. In addition to fire and other municipal and vocational trucks, the company manufactures defense, construction and aviation ground support equipment.

  • “We’re able to accelerate innovation because of our technical capabilities as a company,” he explained. “We’re able to electrify things that are not supposed to be electrical—like a 40,000-pound municipal fire truck.”
  • Worldwide, Oshkosh employs a team of between 1,600 and 1,700 engineers just for design work, according to Pfeifer.
  • In any product it makes, Oshkosh’s primary concern is improving the safety and productivity of “the everyday heroes who do the hardest work. Military, firefighters, mail carriers—those are the people who use our products, and that’s why innovation matters. Our products allow them to be more productive and a lot safer.”

Legislation-supported growth: But it’s not just those vehicles that are seeing exploding demand from customers.

  • Historic federal investments, such as those in the CHIPS and Science Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, “have spawned huge infrastructure projects,” Pfeifer added. “So it doesn’t matter what you’re producing; you can’t produce it without our equipment.”
  • Last year, contractors in North America kicked off approximately $350 billion worth of projects, with electric vehicle and semiconductor facilities and data centers all acting as drivers of that growth.

Speaking of EVs: Oshkosh has a lot to boast about in the EV space.

  • It was recently chosen by the U.S. Postal Service to design the agency’s Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, a mail van “customized specifically for the needs of mail carriers,” according to the Oshkosh website. The vehicle’s propulsion platform can accommodate both traditional internal-combustion and battery-electric engines.
  • And in addition to having developed a lithium-ion battery-powered refuse and recycling vehicle, Oshkosh also manufactured the first electric fire truck in service in North America. It’s the Pierce® Volterra™ Pumper, and the Madison Fire Department’s fleet in Madison, Wisconsin, has a purchase order agreement for it following a highly successful 18-month placement of one of the Pumpers. 

Coming up: What’s next for Oshkosh? With its healthy balance sheet, the company is investing for the long haul, Pfeifer told the NAM.

  • “We’re hiring a lot and opening new facilities,” Pfeifer continued, adding that Oshkosh subsidiary JLG Industries Inc.—which makes the popular SkyTrak® telehandler hydraulic lift machine—is expanding its 500,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Jefferson City, Tennessee, and Oshkosh recently opened new plants in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The last word: The firm is also focusing on strategic acquisition work, Pfeifer said.

  • Last year, it purchased AeroTech, a company that makes cargo loaders and other airport ground support equipment.
  • “We’re very patient, but when we see the opportunity to acquire a business and enter a new product category or adjacent market where we can make a difference, we do it.”
Business Operations

Baltimore Bridge Collapse to Hit Shipping, Port Jobs

Vessel traffic in and out of the Port of Baltimore—which contributes $15 million a day in economic activity, Business Insider reports—was suspended Tuesday after a container ship hit the Francis Scott Key Bridge in the early morning. The collision caused the bridge to collapse, sending at least seven vehicles and their occupants into the Patapsco River, according to the Baltimore Sun (subscription).

What’s going on: “Officials, who spoke amid a continuing and massive search and rescue mission, said the port was not shut down and remained open to process trucks inside terminals.”

  • Other ports are likely to be able to absorb container ships headed for Baltimore, The New York Times (subscription) reports.

Why it’s important: “The port, which generates more than 15,300 direct jobs, had rebounded from global supply chain difficulties and disruptions during the coronavirus pandemic and hit records last year for handling cargo,” according to the Baltimore Sun. “It is the nation’s 16th busiest port, ranking first for volume of autos and light trucks, roll-on/roll-off heavy farm and construction machinery, imported sugar and imported gypsum.”

  • Baltimore is the closest Atlantic port to major Midwestern manufacturing hubs.
  • Truckers are concerned about increased congestion resulting from the closure, “particularly because deliveries such as hazardous material loads cannot travel through Interstate 895 or I-95 tunnels.” Trucking companies are already warning customers of delays for shipments going through the Mid-Atlantic, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).
  • In addition to affecting consumers in the Baltimore area, the traffic stoppage is likely to affect jobs at the port.
Business Operations

Cereal Contest Stirs Interest in Manufacturing

a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera

Gilster-Mary Lee Corporation has discovered a way to interest students in manufacturing: through their stomachs.

With support from the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, the Chester, Illinois–based private-label food manufacturer recently chose the winner of its second annual “Create A Crunch” cereal-design contest for local high schoolers.

  • “It’s critically important for our nation’s future that we attract the next generation of creators and makers, dreamers and doers who want to make our world a better place to live,” said IMA President and CEO Mark Denzler. “‘Create A Crunch’ is a fun and innovative way to encourage kids to explore all facets of manufacturing.”

A winner of an idea: The contest, which each year poses an essay-writing question on a manufacturing-related topic, came about when Gilster-Mary Lee was brainstorming ways to participate in National Manufacturing Month, which is October.

  • “We were looking for a way to participate that would be meaningful and get kids—students—excited” about manufacturing, said President and CEO Tom Welge, a direct descendant of the company’s founding Gilster family, which started the firm in the late 19th century as the Gilster Milling Company.
  • “We’d done a lot of celebrity cereals [such as a recent one featuring college basketball star Caitlin Clark], and they’re really popular. So I thought, why not involve students in the creation of a product and turn it into a way to educate them about manufacturing, maybe focusing on a particular topic in the industry we believe is important?”

An educational opportunity: “Create A Crunch” was born and is already off to a roaring start. In 2022, the contest garnered more than 300 entries from students throughout Illinois and Missouri. In 2023, it received more than 400.

  • In addition to getting to choose the type of cereal, name and box design for their limited-run branded breakfast food, each year’s winner gets 2,500 boxes for their school, which “they can sell in a fundraiser, donate, whatever they want,” Welge said.
  • The most recent winner, a senior at Notre Dame Regional High School in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, chose a blue, fruit-flavored ring-shaped cereal, which will be called “Bulldog Bites” in honor of her school’s mascot. The cereal boxes are slated for delivery in April.
  • The 2023 writing prompt: What are the best things artificial intelligence can do for manufacturing, and do you think there are any things we should be concerned about?

Tough choices: Once the entry deadline has passed, a panel from Gilster-Mary Lee reads and rates every submission, then develops a short list of finalists. It sends these 10 names to the IMA for winner selection.

  • The IMA has a difficult task before it in choosing the best submission, Welge added.
  • “It’s not easy, but an understanding of the question is key, as is originality,” Welge continued. “The best essays [are] the ones that do the research and really put some thought behind it.”

More than a contest: Gilster-Mary Lee and the IMA are hoping that thought will transcend the contest and translate to participation in the manufacturing industry, which is in serious need of talent nationwide.

  • In Illinois, the industry employs more than 650,000 people, Denzler said, making it “the single largest share of our economy.”

Perception change: “Create A Crunch” seems to be opening kids’ eyes to modern manufacturing, Welge said.

  • “I think we have more visibility [now] into what we do,” he told us. “We produce for wholesalers across the U.S. and outside as well. So this is a way for us to pull back the curtain a bit and let people know there’s pretty big-sized manufacturer in this rural area, and we’re looking for talent.”

Up next: The contest may have started with cereal, but don’t be surprised if other foods come into play, said Welge, whose company also makes pancake mix, macaroni and cheese and many other convenience foods.

  • “Should we do ‘Make A Mac’ next year? We’re not ruling anything out.”
Business Operations

Trend of the Week: Smart Factories

In 2024, factories will just keep getting smarter. From product design to supply chain management, the sophistication of Manufacturing 4.0 (the current wave of technological evolution) will keep on growing. Here’s what manufacturers should know about these advances and how the NAM can help.

What manufacturers should do: Manufacturers looking to make their factories smarter are focusing on four key strategies:

  • Creating efficiencies to improve the bottom line with automation and other M4.0 technologies
  • Leveraging smart factories to overcome challenges, such as the workforce crisis and supply disruptions
  • Ensuring connectivity on the factory floor to allow for use of plant data to create new business models and revenue streams
  • Using M4.0 technologies to improve quality control, speed time to market, enhance safety, boost profits, contribute to sustainability goals and engage employees

Expert opinion: Companies are increasingly investing in industrial connectivity, according to PTC Vice President of Market Development of IoT James Zhang.

  • “Rather than approaching industrial connectivity with point-to-point integrations, companies are developing holistic, enterprise-wide strategies,” he explained.
  • “This approach streamlines and standardizes data from heterogenous manufacturing environments to a single industrial connectivity platform to provide secure, reliable data for OT systems, including MES and SCADA, and IT systems, including data analytics and industrial IoT.”

Resources for you: Check out these NAM resources that will help guide you through these technological changes:

  • The Manufacturing Leadership Council, the NAM’s digital transformation division, offers extensive advice and expertise on Manufacturing 4.0 technologies and how to use them.
  • NAM Cyber Cover can help you protect your smart factories, as the increase in digitization also opens new avenues for cyber criminals.
  • Check out this podcast from the Innovation Research Interchange (the NAM’s innovation division), which covers current research into the adoption of cutting-edge technologies.

Read the full 2024 trends report here.

Business Operations

Trend of the Week: Building Resilience

Some disruptions—like global pandemics—are just too unexpected to anticipate. As manufacturers consider the unknowns they may face in the years ahead, they are prioritizing general resilience instead of attempting to plan for everything. Here’s what you should know about this major trend in 2024.

What manufacturers should do: Manufacturers should focus on these four areas to increase their resilience, according to the NAM’s experts:

  • Enhance cybersecurity to guard against new and emerging cyberthreats.
  • View resilience as a necessary tool to protect business amid economic uncertainty.
  • Shift leadership strategies to build a strong plan for future success, including establishing a path for development and cultivation of future leaders.
  • Plan for more and as-yet-unknown disruptions in the future.

Expert opinion: Mike Lipinski, cybersecurity partner at Plante Moran, advises manufacturers concerned about the rising threat of ransomware. He points out how the dangers have evolved in recent years:

  • “Manufacturing businesses that fall prey to ransomware can be attacked multiple times. Adversaries who breach your system sell other cybercriminals information about how they got in. The risk isn’t only data theft and access to information but also the criminals’ ability to create backdoors into your environment.”

Resources for you: Check out these NAM resources that can help companies bolster their resilience:

  • Here is a useful guide that can guide you through dealing with disasters.
  • Check out the NAM Shipping & Logistics program, which can help you cope with delays in shipments and funds in case the unexpected happens.
  • If you’re facing legal issues, the NAM’s Legal Referral Service, powered by Meritas, can connect you to world-class legal talent in every sector of law.

Read the full 2024 trends report here.

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