Innovation and Technology

Policy and Legal

Table Saw Standard Would Cost Manufacturers

If implemented, a safety standard proposed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission for table saws will harm manufacturing in the U.S., the NAM told the CPSC this week.

What’s going on: “The Commission’s proposed rule itself outlines that, if implemented, the cost of table saws would more than double, small manufacturers may be forced to exit the market, businesses may be unable to operate and sales of table saws will decrease,” NAM Senior Director of Tax Policy Alex Monié said during testimony at a hearing Wednesday.

  • The rule would require table saws—those motor-driven, wood-mounted, circular saw blades used daily in multiple industries to cut wood, plastic and other materials—to come equipped with patented active injury mitigation technology.
  • Bringing currently on-the-market table saws into compliance could cost manufacturers from $100,000 to $700,000 per model and take up to three years, Monié said.

The background: In October 2023, the CPSC voted to issue a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking promulgating the table saw safety guideline, in response to the petition of a company that holds more than 100 patents “related to the AIM technology the Commission would mandate,” Commissioner Peter A. Feldman told fellow commissioners that month.

  • There are voluntary safety standards in place for table saws, requiring modular blade-guard systems, and these “are working as the market demands,” Monié told the commissioners.

Instituting a monopoly: In addition to costing manufacturers huge sums, the proposed standard “would have the effect of instituting a monopoly, as the proposed rule is the latest in a series of Commission actions to impose a standard that could be achieved only through the use of one claimed patented technology,” Monié continued.

Unjustifiable rulemaking: Under the Consumer Product Safety Act, the CPSC cannot issue a mandatory standard unless it has found that an existing voluntary standard fails to or does not adequately prevent or reduce the risk of injury.

  • “The CPSC admits that it does not have adequate data to determine that the current voluntary standard will not reduce the risk of injury,” Monié went on.

What should be done: The CPSC should withdraw the proposed standard, he said, and “readdress the cost and burden analysis in the proposed rule, with a more tailored focus on small manufacturers.”

Policy and Legal

WTO Meeting Kicks Off to Challenges; “Big Deals Unlikely”

With economic challenges and “geopolitical tensions” threatening international commerce, the World Trade Organization faces a difficult job at the 13th Ministerial Conference, according to AFP.

What’s going on: At the meeting, which began Monday in Abu Dhabi and is expected to conclude on Thursday, “[t]he WTO is hoping for progress, particularly on fishing, agriculture and electronic commerce. But big deals are unlikely as the body’s rules require full consensus among all 164 member states—a tall order in the current climate.”

  • The organization could also decide on whether to expand a 2022 TRIPS waiver to include COVID-19 therapies—a move that would be damaging to manufacturing in the U.S.
  • “The WTO committee in charge of discussing intellectual property rights recently told the WTO General Council that it had been unable to reach agreement on the issue after more than 18 months of discussion,” POLITICO reports. “That could signal the end of the road for efforts to expand the waiver, but [there is] fear it could still be approved by ministers at MC13 as part of the final horse-trading that occurs to reach some deal.”

Reform needed: “Speaking on the first day of MC13, WTO Director-General said that ‘multilateralism is under attack,’ highlighting a need to ‘reform the multilateral trading system’ and boost international cooperation,” according to AFP.

  • European Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis echoed the call for reform, saying, “The world has changed. And institutions like the WTO need to evolve too. We are faced with crises wherever we look.” 

No waiver expansion: One change that should not take place, however, is the TRIPS waiver expansion, the NAM told U.S. lawmakers ahead of the WTO meeting. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons met with Okonjo-Iweala and WTO Deputy Director General Angela Ellard in Geneva last March to discuss the waiver.

  • “The proposed expansion of the TRIPS waiver to include diagnostics and therapeutics would jeopardize American innovation, endanger U.S. jobs, undermine future investment and research and development for lifesaving products that are fundamental to fighting global crises, including many diseases and health conditions other than COVID-19, and pose serious safety concerns,” the NAM and six association partners told Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and White House Chief of Staff Jeffrey Zients last week.

Digital commerce: There are some concrete actions that should be taken regarding the WTO, the NAM told the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade this month.

  • The USTR should reverse a decision it made in October 2023 to “drop the longstanding digital trade position of the U.S. at the WTO. This longstanding position, which has clear bipartisan support from the U.S. Congress, seeks to protect cross-border data flows, prohibit costly data localization requirements abroad, defend American digital products from discrimination and protect American IP.”
  • And the U.S. should urge the WTO to institute a permanent e-commerce moratorium. Allowing the current “moratorium on customs duties for electronic transmissions … to expire would inject uncertainty and impose unfair burdens on manufacturers in the U.S.”

The last word: “The WTO remains a critical forum to advance free and fair trade globally,” said NAM Director of International Policy Dylan Clement.

  • “The outcome of the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference is important because an expansion to the TRIPS waiver or letting the e-commerce moratorium expire could significantly harm manufacturers in the United States. As such, manufacturers will be watching the WTO Ministerial this week very closely.” 
Policy and Legal

Arizona: Manufacturing’s Crossroads

a group of people sitting at a table

In the heat of Arizona’s “Silicon Desert” and surrounding communities, the future of America’s global competitiveness and climate goals aren’t just being forged—they also hang in the balance.

Last week for the first time in 2024, the NAM brought its Competing to Win Tour to Arizona, and that stark contrast between the status quo and the probable future was on display in Phoenix at global semiconductor equipment manufacturer Benchmark and small manufacturer Valley Forge & Bolt and at Resolution Copper in Superior.

  • NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons, Manufacturing Institute President and Executive Director Carolyn Lee—who leads the NAM’s 501(c)3 workforce development and education affiliate—and Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and CEO Danny Seiden met with local manufacturers to gain their perspective and insights.

Why it matters: The Biden administration and Congress have secured key measures to bolster manufacturing in the U.S., including the NAM-championed CHIPS and Science Act and tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act to manufacturers investing in advanced production and energy projects. But raw material, workforce and tax and regulatory policy challenges threaten to undermine policy aspirations.

Silicon Desert expansion: With the CHIPS and Science Act poised to transform the sector, Benchmark President and CEO Jeff Benck and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dave Valkanoff led the tour of their state-of-the-art Phoenix facility.

  • In a good spot: Benchmark is well-positioned for the coming growth in semiconductor equipment demand. It is focused on securing its workforce and navigating a complex regulatory landscape to maximize the opportunity.
  • Workforce woes: Even with the NAM and the MI’s Benchmark-supported Creators Wanted campaign boosting the industry’s image and the MI’s FAME initiative training thousands of technicians, finding skilled labor remains the top challenge. Benchmark advances earn-and-learn programs and partnerships with Arizona State University and community colleges to help fill the pipeline, actions that, according to Lee, “can help change the game.”
  • Red tape delays: Regulatory hurdles pose obstacles. Benchmark seeks streamlined permitting and sensible rules to maintain their global edge.
  • Bullish outlook: Benck is optimistic about the future of U.S. manufacturing and semiconductor demand. Investments in people and technology position the company well to deliver the next generation of innovation.

Taxes and immigration: The NAM’s return visit to Valley Forge & Bolt, after a stop last year with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), shone a spotlight on the real-world impact of stalled tax policy and the urgent need for reform. 

  • Valley Forge & Bolt saw record sales in 2023 thanks to 2017 tax reforms boosting its equipment upgrades. Now, with provisions like full capital investment expensing stalled in Congress, orders have slowed.
  • CEO Michele Clarke and COO Bret Halley made the case for R&D expensing, interest deductibility and a return to full capital investment expensing. Without these, they said, job growth and America’s manufacturing competitive edge are at risk.
  • Skilled workers needed: Despite its success, Valley Forge says finding skilled workers is a constant struggle. Immigration reform is a must to secure the right talent pipeline, said Clarke. “Did you notice our engineers? Most of them are under 30 because we’re snatching them right out of college,” added Clarke. “The engineering talent in this country is dwindling, and we’re not authorizing enough green cards. I, myself, was a green card holder before I became a citizen.”

Women leading the Resolution Copper project

Policy roadblocks: The NAM’s visit to Rio Tinto’s Resolution Copper site highlighted the urgency of permitting reform in the face of critical mineral needs.

  • Copper’s critical role: Copper is essential for clean energy. Electric vehicles, solar power grids and wind turbines all demand huge quantities. Yet, the U.S. remains heavily reliant on imported copper, jeopardizing progress.
  • Massive potential: The domestic solution lies within the stalled Resolution Copper mine. With its potential to supply 25% of U.S. copper demand, it’s poised to be a key piece of the puzzle.
  • Project in limbo: Despite a 350-strong workforce modernizing and maintaining the mine, permitting delays stifle the project’s full impact.
  • Sustainable practices: “Resolution Copper is the future of eco-conscious mining,” said NAM Managing Vice President of Brand Strategy Chrys Kefalas, who toured the site. “Their team innovates sustainable practices, leads in water conservation and even supplies 7 billion gallons of water to Arizona farms. And what is more, it isn’t just the facts of the matter or what you saw that drives this point home, but the people who have worked on the site for years make all that clear with the pride they have about the project and their determination to see Resolution Copper through to making lives better for everyone.”
  • Jobs and growth: Led by President and General Manager Vicky Peacey, the project promises to contribute $1 billion annually to the economy and more than 1,500 Arizona jobs. “This is about people, jobs and supply chains; and it’s also about realizing clean energy ambitions at the speed and scale that climate goals demand,” said Kefalas.

The bottom line: “The future of U.S. manufacturing might hinge on these contrasting stories. Are we a nation that champions innovation, attracts and keeps the brightest here, supports our manufacturers and tackles climate goals with homegrown solutions, or one that stalls progress in its own backyard,” said Timmons.

  • “Arizona is at the epicenter of American manufacturing’s next chapter, and with smart policies and fewer unforced errors at the federal level, we can clear the runway for growth,” added Seiden.
Policy and Legal

State of Manufacturing: Strong, But Not Guaranteed

a group of people standing in front of a crowd

What’s the state of manufacturing in the U.S.? Strong and resilient—but under threat.

That was the message delivered by NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons and other speakers at the NAM’s 2024 State of Manufacturing Address at RCO Engineering in Roseville, Michigan, on Thursday.

  • Attending the address were nearly 100 RCO Engineering team members—some of whom are second- or even third-generation manufacturing workers—as well as local education leaders, including Macomb Community College President James O. Sawyer IV and Macomb Intermediate School District Superintendent Michael R. DeVault.
  • The address was the keystone event of this week’s launch of the 2024 Competing to Win Tour, an opportunity to visit local manufacturers and report on where the industry stands at the start of 2024. 

A place of strength: “The state of the manufacturing industry depends on the people in it,” Timmons said in remarks covered by POLITICO Influence (subscription). “And we are now 13 million strong—the largest in more than 15 years. If we can continue on this trajectory, this resurgence, imagine what the state of manufacturing might look like in 2030.”

  • Johnson & Johnson Executive Vice President and Chief Technical Operations & Risk Officer and NAM Board Chair Kathy Wengel echoed that sentiment in her opening remarks. “Manufacturers are improving the quality of life for everyone. … Together, we can lead the way.”
  • And Michigan Manufacturers Association President and CEO John Walsh told the audience at RCO Engineering, “You are making parts here that are going everywhere. It’s a phenomenal story for us in Michigan. It not only helps you as employees here, but it helps your families, it helps your communities. It builds our state. It builds our nation.”
  • “Manufacturing … is an industry that is vital to our economic competitiveness,” said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. “In Macomb County, we’re not just witnessing the growth of manufacturing; we’re actively contributing to it. What we are doing here is creating an environment where innovation thrives and where manufacturers can grow as well as compete.”
  • RCO Engineering General Manager Jeff Simek agreed. “The manufacturing brand is coming back, and it’s coming back alive—and you guys are a big, huge piece of that,” he said to loud applause. 

Fork in the road: But continued manufacturing strength isn’t guaranteed, Timmons said. Rather, it’s in large part contingent on sound policy decisions by U.S. leaders.

  • “We will head in the wrong direction if Congress lets taxes go up on small businesses when rates expire next year,” Timmons said. “Or if they hit you with even more regulations—regulations even harsher than ones they have in Europe. Or if they fail to solve the immigration crisis because they put politics over good policy. Or choose trade barriers rather than trade agreements, or … abandon our allies overseas and put our national security at risk.”
  • The recent regulatory onslaught by federal agencies—which Timmons discussed with Fox Business earlier this week—must stop and be replaced with sensible rulemaking done in cooperation with manufacturers, he said.
  • He cited the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently finalized, overly stringent standard for particulate matter and the Biden administration’s decision to freeze liquefied natural gas export permits. This “forc[es] our allies, like Europe and Japan, to buy dirtier energy from countries we can’t trust, potentially enriching the likes of Russia … undercut[ting] our most basic national security objectives,” Timmons said.

No new taxes: The NAM’s message to Congress on taxes is simple: “No new taxes on manufacturers in America,” Timmons said. 

  • “And while we’re at it, Congress should bring back some of the tax policies that made it easier for manufacturers to invest in the future.”

On immigration: The U.S. needs a common-sense solution to immigration, and it needs it now, Timmons said.

  • While manufacturers may not like every piece of the bipartisan border deal that was recently killed in the Senate, “here was my test: Does it make us more secure than we are today? Yes. Does it make our workforce stronger than it is today? Yes. And does it help our allies overseas? Yes,” said Timmons.

Come what may: No matter what the November elections bring, manufacturers will continue to do the jobs so many people depend on them to do, Timmons concluded.

  • “Our commitment is to work with anyone, and I truly mean anyone, who will put policy—policy that supports people—ahead of politics, personality or process. We will stand with you if you stand with us in advancing the values that have made America exceptional and keep manufacturing strong.” 
Business Operations

Trend of the Week: Data in Action

Everyone knows that data is an indispensable resource, but putting it to use is a whole different challenge from collecting it in the first place. Here’s what you need to know about today’s manufacturing trend, the industry’s increasing reliance on data-driven insights.

What manufacturers should do: According to NAM experts, manufacturers seeking to make the most of their data should focus on five key steps:

  • Understand how to gather data to enable meaningful analytics.
  • Improve data governance for quality and security.
  • Determine what data are important to your business and operations.
  • Learn how to assign value and view the data through the appropriate lens.
  • Know how to use data to make business decisions.

Expert opinion: According to John Petrusick, managing director of NTT’s manufacturing data and analytics practice, companies should consider working backward to some extent, and start by thinking about which business processes the data will influence—and how.

  • “Most of us have grown up in a world where we think of data as a flow from source to consumer, or left to right,” he noted. “In such thinking, we have generated analytics and insights historically by first thinking about ‘what data do I have?’ But what if we thought about generating analytics and insights by thinking ‘right to left’?”

Resources for you: Looking for more resources on data management? Start with these NAM offerings:

  • This Master Class Series from the Manufacturing Leadership Council (the NAM’s digital transformation division) will guide you through case studies and best practices regarding data analysis.
  • CONNEX Marketplace uses data visualization tools to help you make connections to suppliers and buyers, offering exceptional insight into your supply chain.
  • The NAM’s Power of Small newsletter keeps small and medium-sized manufacturers up to date on advocacy, policy, digital trends and much more. Check it out.

Read the full 2024 trends report here.

Business Operations

Primary Goals: NAM Hits the Road in 2024

a group of people standing in front of a building

As candidates look to claim the support of manufacturers in 2024, the NAM launched its year-long 2024 Competing to Win Tour in South Carolina, days ahead of the South Carolina GOP primary.

  • The tour spotlights the issues critical to winning not just manufacturers’ votes but also more manufacturing in the U.S.

Why it’s important: “We came to South Carolina to showcase the people and stories behind our industry and to translate their perspectives into action that will make our industry and country stronger,” said Johnson & Johnson Executive Vice President and Chief Technical Operations & Risk Officer and NAM Board Chair Kathy Wengel, who joined NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons, South Carolina Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Morgan and South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance President and CEO Sara Hazzard on the first day of the tour.

  • “Building these strong relationships beyond Washington, D.C., in the cities and states driving our sector deepens our understanding of regional challenges and reinforces the NAM as the leading voice representing all manufacturers, large and small,” Wengel added.

The launch: The tour began at Milliken & Company’s headquarters in Spartanburg on Wednesday, a poignant reminder of the importance of just one global technology-based manufacturer to lives, innovation and progress.

a group of people standing in a room

  • The company’s 3,200 associates in the Palmetto State, as well as its broader U.S. and global team, make everything from safety gear and wound dressings and bandages to eco-conscious materials and technological innovations, such as digital printing, flooring, sustainable coating additives and more.
  • “The average person touches about 30 to 50 [Milliken products] a day,” said Milliken President and CEO Halsey Cook.
  • “Milliken embodies what we believe: manufacturing makes a positive difference. Their commitment to sustainability, ethics (named a World’s Most Ethical Company 17 years running) and a people-first workplace create a ripple effect,” said Timmons. “It’s why we need everyone supporting the success of manufacturers in South Carolina and the United States—to empower companies just like Milliken and help us grow more of them right here in America,” Morgan emphasized.
  • “Milliken is a remarkable brand ambassador for the entire manufacturing industry in the United States,” summed up NAM Managing Vice President of Brand Strategy Chrys Kefalas. “As Michael Brown, Milliken’s executive vice president of operations, conveyed to us, the company is showing that digital transformation and artificial intelligence can be a force for good, helping its people leverage data analytics, for example, accelerating innovation and making modern manufacturing even more exciting for the next generation to be a part of.”

A boom story: Springs Creative Products Group CEO Derick Close, who heads several small enterprises in South Carolina, brought the NAM tour to Fort Lawn, South Carolina, where state-private partnerships and sound competitiveness policies have led to a boom in manufacturing investment and jobs.

  • According to Close, recent investments in the community exceed $2.5 billion and stand to add 1,500 new jobs.
  • Close, who is an economic development champion for South Carolina, took time to brief the group on how the area is ground zero as well in the story of the revival—and revolution—happening for the U.S. textile manufacturing sector, showing that U.S.-based textile manufacturers can compete against the rest of the world at quality, speed and price, so long as misguided policies don’t impede current advances. Springs Creative’s digital printing facility, which the NAM toured, is just one example. Springs Creative produces fabrics for such companies as Disney, Tempur-Pedic and Walmart.
  • An added highlight of Close’s showcase was a tour of the new 1.5-million-square-foot, $423 million E. & J. Gallo wine and spirits production and distribution center—a testament to U.S. ingenuity and the more than 275 jobs it’s already created (with more on the way) to produce the best-selling spirit in the U.S. 

The message: The discussions at Milliken and Springs Creative focused on the need for policies that support manufacturing’s growth, from R&D incentives and competitive taxes to sensible regulations, resilient supply chains and permitting reform, to workforce development, including immigration reform, and energy policy.

The platforms: As newsrooms dwindle, the NAM is stepping into the breach, using its platforms, like NAM.org, social media and its email newsletters, including Input, to amplify manufacturing’s narrative. It’s a bid to ensure that as policymakers and candidates court manufacturers, they’re armed with real stories and concrete policy needs from the ground.

Looking ahead: The tour will continue across the United States, gathering insights and stories to bolster the NAM’s advocacy efforts. Next up: the Competing to Win Tour brings the NAM State of Manufacturing Address to Roseville, Michigan, as well as to Sanders Chocolate and Triumph Gear Systems in Macomb County on Thursday.

Input Stories

GlobalFoundries to Get $1.5 Billion in CHIPS Funding

Semiconductor maker GlobalFoundries Inc. will be the first recipient of funding under the NAM-supported 2022 CHIPS and Science Act, CNBC reports.

What’s going on: “The U.S. government is awarding $1.5 billion to GlobalFoundries to subsidize semiconductor production, the first major award from a $39 billion fund approved by Congress in 2022 to bolster domestic chip production.”

  • The Malta, New York–based GlobalFoundries—the largest U.S. manufacturer of customized semiconductors and the world’s third-biggest chipmaker—plans to use the funds to build a new chip-production facility in its hometown and expand existing facilities there and in Burlington, Vermont.
  • The Malta facility will manufacture high-value semiconductors not currently produced in the U.S., Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said.
  • In addition to the grant, the federal government is also offering GlobalFoundries $1.6 billion in loans.

Why it’s important: “The chips that GlobalFoundries will make in these new facilities are essential chips to our national security,” Raimondo said on Sunday, adding that the “agency is in active talks with numerous applicants and expects to make several announcements by the end of March.”

  • In January, Commerce announced it was awarding defense contractor BAE Systems $35 million under the CHIPS Act.

Our role: The NAM—which helped secure several manufacturing priorities in the final CHIPS Act legislation—welcomed the news.

  • “Congratulations to [GlobalFoundries]!” the NAM wrote in a social post Monday. “The NAM-championed CHIPS and Science Act is strengthening manufacturing in the U.S. We will continue to work with Congress and the White House to enact permitting reforms that will help speed the construction of these vital projects.”​​​
Business Operations

Trend of the Week: Sustainability Under Scrutiny

Manufacturers have long prioritized sustainability in their operations, but 2024 will bring new attention to the industry’s efforts. As we continue to explore the major manufacturing trends that will shape the industry this year, here’s what you need to know about this key development.

What manufacturers should do: Manufacturers looking to create strong sustainability plans to meet the expectations of regulators, boards and consumers should start by taking these steps, according to the NAM’s experts.

  • Craft an overall organizational sustainability plan with metrics and reporting.
  • Make changes and upgrades to support energy and resource efficiency, as well as reduce waste and emissions.
  • Focus on sustainable products and packaging in addition to sustainable processes.
  • Improve product reclamation or recycling in the circular economy.

Expert opinion: According to UL Solutions, company boards have a particularly key role to play in developing sustainability plans.

  • “Boards of directors are bound by their fiduciary responsibilities to shareholders, but savvy directors also recognize that environmental and other ESG-linked risks and opportunities are vital to the long-term health of their organizations,” UL notes.

Resources for you: Check out these NAM resources to learn more about sustainability and compliance:

  • NAM Energy will connect you with an adviser to create an energy management strategy that will help you cut costs and reduce your environmental impact.
  • This podcast from Milliken & Company’s director of research, compliance and sustainability is an excellent case study for manufacturers seeking to remove or remediate PFAS chemicals.
  • Dig into the NAM’s extensive collection of policy explainers, on everything from the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of particulates to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s regulation of climate disclosures.

Read the full 2024 trends report here. 

Business Operations

What’s Ahead for Manufacturing in 2024?

Getting a solid forecast of the year’s key issues in manufacturing can help your business prepare for anything. A panel of experts recently shared their 2024 outlook in the webinar “What’s Ahead for Manufacturing in 2024?” hosted by the Manufacturing Leadership Council, the NAM’s digital transformation arm.

They offered insights on the 2024 manufacturing economy, legislative climate, digital trends, resilience strategies and more.

Economic outlook: NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray provided a manufacturing economic update.

Key takeaways: 

  • The NAM Q4 2023 Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey revealed that more than 66% of member companies have a positive economic outlook for 2024, yet opinions are mixed on whether there will be a recession.
  • The top economic challenge this year will be the workforce, with the labor market cooling substantially but remaining tight, Moutray said.
  • Private manufacturing construction spending is at an all-time high of $210 billion thanks to the production of semiconductors, electric vehicles and batteries, and general reshoring.
  • Risks this year include geopolitical turmoil, slow global economic growth, cost pressures, talk of a recession and labor issues, among others.

Policy perspective: NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Charles Crain gave an overview of the current climate in Washington, D.C., and the NAM’s legislative priorities.

Key takeaways: 

  • The NAM will continue its focus on tax policy following House passage of an NAM-supported bipartisan tax package that would reinstate three manufacturing-critical tax provisions.
  • Manufacturing is facing a regulatory onslaught, with the average manufacturer paying $29,000 per employee per year due to unbalanced, burdensome regulations, according to a recent NAM-commissioned study.
  • Artificial intelligence is a hot topic on Capitol Hill, with 60 AI-related bills introduced in Congress last year. The NAM is working to help policymakers understand the benefits of AI, including safety, worker training, product design and development, and efficiency.

Manufacturing 4.0 Trends: MLC Senior Content Director Penelope Brown offered a look at digital manufacturing trends on the horizon.

 Key takeaways: 

  • Manufacturers can expect to see a broader adoption of existing AI applications, including predictive/preventative maintenance, improved processes and enhanced productivity.
  • According to the MLC’s recent Smart Factories and Digital Production survey, 65% of manufacturers anticipate their level of M4.0 investment this year will stay the same as last year.
  • Other trends to watch include the rise of global partnerships such as Catena-X and CESMII, digitized supply chains and reshoring.

Resilience perspective: Cooley Group President and CEO (and MLC Board of Governors Chair) Dan Dwight shared his approach to resilience in 2024 and the years to come.

Key takeaways: 

  • Business leaders should prioritize agility and adaptability, even if it means admitting to suboptimal results that require redirection.
  • Resilience doesn’t mean perfection; it means learning from failures.
  • AI and machine learning contribute to resilience by building out end-to-end visibility across an organization—from vendors to manufacturing operations to customers.

For additional details from these experts, watch “What’s Ahead for Manufacturing in 2024?” 

Policy and Legal

March-In Proposal Undermines IP Rights, Hurts Manufacturers

The Biden administration’s proposal to invoke so-called “march-in” authority to seize the rights to patents developed in any part with federal funding would undermine the American innovation economy, the NAM told the federal government Tuesday.

What’s going on: A proposal put forth in December by the Biden administration would allow the government to seize private-sector patents for products it considers too costly.

Why it’s important: “Undermining manufacturers’ [intellectual property] rights would have sweeping ramifications for innovation in the United States and America’s world-leading innovation economy,” the NAM told the Biden administration.

  • “In particular, start-ups and small businesses would bear the brunt of the drastic changes proposed by the administration, as … government march-in would disincentivize early-stage entrepreneurship and dissuade much-needed capital formation from outside investors.”

The background: The Bayh-Dole Act, passed in 1980, allows recipients of federal research dollars to license groundbreaking technologies to private-sector companies to commercialize them.

  • “Prior to the act’s passage, the government held approximately 28,000 patents—yet fewer than 4% of those patents were licensed to the private sector. This is because private-sector participants viewed these patents as ‘contaminated by government funding,’” according to the NAM.
  • Bayh-Dole includes a narrow “march-in” provision that allows the government to step in to ensure consumer access to certain products during times of crisis—but march-in “has never previously been used during the 44 years since the law’s enactment,” the NAM said.
  • Allowing march-in based on the price of a product or technology “would hinder industry collaborations with research universities and laboratories across the country, stymieing manufacturers’ efforts to develop the products and technologies of the future and bring them to the public.”

What we’re doing: Last month, the NAM launched a seven-figure ad campaign opposing the proposal.

  • The administration should “provide certainty to manufacturers and other stakeholders in the innovation economy by affirmatively and unequivocally withdrawing the proposal—and making clear that the administration will not implement any of its recommendations,” the NAM said.

The last word: “Undermining America’s world-leading patent system is a recipe for reduced innovation and significant economic damage, with a disproportionate impact on small manufacturers,” said NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Charles Crain.

  • “The administration’s march-in proposal would raise the spectre of government price controls on a wide range of technologies—fundamentally reshaping how life-changing innovation is developed, financed and commercialized in the United States. The administration must affirmatively and unequivocally withdraw this radical and flawed proposal.”
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