Research, Innovation and Technology

Business Operations

10th Anniversary of NAM President and CEO’s “Four Pillars” Speech

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons delivered a defining speech at the Friends of Adam Smith Awards a decade ago. This speech outlined the “Four Pillars of an Exceptional America,” a framework that continues to shape the NAM’s mission and advocacy.

Flashback: On June 11, 2014, in his speech accepting the 2014 Business Citizen Award for an outstanding record of achievement in advancing the principles of free enterprise, Timmons introduced the four pillars that underpin American exceptionalism and manufacturing strength.

The Four Pillars:

  • Free enterprise: The economic system that unleashes innovation, creates opportunity and lifts humankind out of poverty more than any other economic system has in the history of the world.
  • Competitiveness: Our ability, when untethered from government overreach, to prosper and win in a global economy.
  • Individual liberty: The unique freedoms enshrined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights that enable us to live and succeed.
  • Equal opportunity: Our shared belief that we all have the ability to contribute to the betterment of our families, our companies, our communities and our country.

Manufacturers’ approval: The NAM Board of Directors unanimously adopted these pillars as part of the association’s official policy positions, guiding the NAM’s Competing to Win agenda to bolster the competitiveness of manufacturers in the United States.

The impact: These pillars have guided the NAM’s efforts in promoting policies that support a robust manufacturing industry and a strong national economy, helping to draw support across the political divide for manufacturers’ principles-based agenda.

The bottom line: “The Four Pillars are not just about manufacturing; they are about sustaining the promise of America,” said NAM Executive Vice President Erin Streeter. “That’s why these values have helped us ensure the manufacturing agenda is a post-partisan agenda, drawing support for so many of our priorities from policymakers and by candidates—on both sides of the aisle—on the campaign trail. We will continue to work with anyone who wants to advance these values.”

Business Operations

Announcing the Winners of the 2024 Manufacturing Leadership Awards

The names are in! The Manufacturing Leadership Council—the NAM’s digital transformation division—is pleased to announce the winners of the 2024 Manufacturing Leadership Awards.

Now in its 20th year, the awards competition recognizes outstanding manufacturing companies and their leaders for groundbreaking use of advanced manufacturing technology.

“The class of 2024 should indeed be proud of their achievements in advancing the digital model of manufacturing,” said MLC Founder, Vice President and Executive Director David R. Brousell. “The awards reflect the truly incredible amount of innovation taking place in all sectors of the industry.”

Manufacturing Leader of the Year: Cooley Group President and CEO Daniel Dwight is the 2024 Manufacturing Leader of the Year.

  • Dwight, who also serves on the MLC’s Board of Governors and is a member of the Executive Committee of the NAM Board of Directors, has overseen a significant turnaround in Cooley’s business performance through digital transformation, with a commitment to investing in smart factory technologies and developing a digital-ready workforce and business culture.
  • In addition, the MLC named Cooley Group the 2024 Small/Medium Enterprise Manufacturer of the Year.

Large Enterprise Manufacturer of the Year: Intertape Polymer Group is the 2024 Large Enterprise Manufacturer of the Year.

  • The award recognizes IPG’s achievements in digital transformation, including technology integration and workforce training.
  • The company has also made noteworthy strides in sustainability through reductions in both energy usage and waste.

More honors: The MLC also announced winners in 11 project and individual categories, as well as the winners of the Manufacturing in 2030 Awards. The latter are given to projects with particularly forward-thinking innovations.

  • The MLC honored all finalists and winners at the Manufacturing Leadership Awards Gala last night in Marco Island, Florida. A complete list of finalists and winners is available here.

Nominations for the 2025 season of the Manufacturing Leadership Awards will open on Sept. 16, 2024. More information is available here.

Business Operations

Rio Tinto Seeks to Meet Growing Copper Appetite

The demand for copper is skyrocketing—and global mining company Rio Tinto is powering forward full throttle to meet it (CNBC).

What’s going on: “The red metal, considered a barometer for economic health, is a vital component for the construction and defense industries as well as a key component in electric cars, wind turbines and the power grid.”

  • However, current mines and in-the-works projects “will meet only 80% of copper needs by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency.”
  • “There’s this growing consensus that demand fueled by the energy transition is going to outstrip supply, and that’s why analysts say we are simply not going to have enough of it,” said CNBC Markets Reporter Pippa Stevens in a recent CNBC video. “And copper really is the backbone of decarbonization goals.”

The challenges: Copper mining is difficult and expensive—and it takes 10 to 15 years to build each mine, Rio Tinto CEO Bold Baatar told CNBC.

A beneficial metal: Copper is the most economical conductor available, and directly and indirectly, it supports more than 395,000 U.S. jobs and more than $160 billion in economic output.

Behind the scenes: CNBC went behind the scenes at Rio Tinto’s Kennecott operations in Utah, where “about 200,000 metric tons of copper are produced annually.”

  • There, Rio Tinto is increasing its open-pit mining operations and has started an underground project to mine higher-grade ore.
  • Kennecott is unique for its smelter and refinery, “where the ore is processed into almost pure copper.”

Permitting challenges: Another of Rio Tinto’s projects, the Resolution Copper mine in Arizona, has the potential to power up to 25% of U.S. copper demand—but it has been mired in a regulatory morass for the better part of two decades.

  • “The last hard-rock mine that was permitted was in 2008,” Rio Tinto Copper Chief Operating Officer Clayton Walker told the news outlet. “We’ve been working on the Resolution Mine for about 18 years.”

Independence is possible: “Theoretically, there are enough reserves in the U.S. that we could become independent for our copper needs,” Walker continued. “It’s just, how do we do that? How do we get the permits?”

What the NAM is doing: The NAM has been engaging directly with the Biden administration and members of Congress through meetings and briefings at NAM headquarters to push for comprehensive permitting reform.

  • In addition, the NAM, along with members of the NAM’s Council of Manufacturing Associations and Conference of State Manufacturers Associations, last summer launched Manufacturers for Sensible Regulations, a coalition that seeks to speed up the frequently slow, arduous federal permitting process for energy infrastructure projects and address the large number of regulations being churned out by the federal government.
Business Operations

Beyond the Buzzwords: Digital Transformation in Manufacturing

Technology is constantly changing. But how will this era of digital transformation change the manufacturing industry?

The NAM’s Leading Edge program partnered with Siemens to present “Beyond the Buzzwords: A Digital Thread Journey,” a four-part webinar series dedicated to understanding how cutting-edge ideas affect manufacturers. In the first episode, we put the digital transformation journey in context by introducing the “digital thread.” In the next three, we dove deeper into cloud acceleration, artificial intelligence and radical flexibility.

Cloud acceleration: A business’s digital needs are covered by a combination of software, hardware and physical infrastructure. If you turn to an offsite partner to provide any of those elements, then you are probably already using cloud acceleration to support your business.

  • We spoke with Surf Loch Director of Project and Process Development Bryan Behr, Siemens Senior Vice President of Cloud Application Services Raymond Kok and Surf Loch Systems Engineer Miles Miller to learn more.

What it is: Cloud acceleration refers to a wide range of on-demand computing services hosted outside of your organization.

  • Kok explained that cloud acceleration “is really a layer cake with three layers to it.” At the highest level is “infrastructure as a service,” like data centers. In the middle is “platform as a service,” which might provide you with the building blocks to create your own applications. And at the final layer is “software as a service,” which is what you would typically get from a commercial software vendor.

How it helps: Cloud acceleration is easier, more cost effective and more flexible than managing all of your computing needs internally.

  • “The cool thing about the cloud is how containerized everything is,” said Miller. “Data is readily available in a very organized fashion. … If there’s a problem or something needs to be solved, we can put that data in the right hands.”
  • Behr also pointed out the benefits for digital security. “It’s either rely on one thing to maintain our security on premise or rely on a very sophisticated cloud team as part of a set of resources. … [I]t became pretty obvious that that appears to be a safer place for us than potentially on premise.”

Learn more: To learn more about cloud acceleration, check out the full webinar here.

AI/machine learning: We know that AI and machine learning are affecting every industry. But how should manufacturers use this new technology?

We brought together Siemens Advanta North America CEO Rani Russell Shea and Schaeffler Special Machinery Head of Electrical & Software Engineering Stefan Gahabka to learn about how to approach AI.

How it works: “The basic idea with AI is that you use data to train models,” said Shea. “Those models can run analytics and then essentially make decisions while learning things, like pattern detection. And then when you’re talking specifically about industrial AI, you’re talking about using AI for machine learning solutions, to solve business problems, things like factory optimization.”

Augmenting humanity: According to Shea and Gahabka, AI is intended to elevate the human factor in manufacturing, not replace it.

  • “Everybody really wants to be able to do their job better, faster, more accurately, more safely, more sustainably,” said Shea. “AI … is going to help us do that, and by doing that, it’s literally elevating the role of people so we’re free to then use our creativity, our experience and our knowledge to really address the complex stuff.”

Doing more: AI can be used to measure, model and optimize everything from energy usage to supply chains—even helping manufacturers find the right partners to match their sustainability objectives.

  • “We talk about the hard things like quality and cost, but can also think about the next step,” said Gahabka. “We can search for suppliers that have sustainable locations and goals.”

Learn more: To learn more about AI and machine learning, check out the full webinar here.

Radical flexibility: Many think of efficient manufacturing in terms of highly standardized automatable processes. Today, though, new technology is creating new possibilities for manufacturers.

We convened an expert panel with Vice-President of Digital Enterprise at Siemens Alastair Orchard, Global Engineering Director and Automation & Robotics Lead at Unilever Cesare Gibilaro, and Process Orchestration & Manufacturing Hub, Manager for Business Operations at Unilever Louise Gigg to introduce us to radical flexibility and the future of manufacturing.

What it is: Technological advancements are making it possible for manufacturers to make only what is needed when it is needed, rather than having hard-coded machines that limit what your business can do for the sake of efficiency.

  • For much of the past century, according to Orchard, manufacturers had been focused on “removing degrees of freedom from manufacturing, making it more rigid, so that automation could be applied to extremely repeatable processes … radical flexibility really challenges that assumption to its core. And we asked: what if nothing was hard coded?”
  • “The radical way of looking at it,” said Gigg, “is reconfiguring the asset that you have on automation [and giving it] a new task or a new capability that it didn’t have yesterday.”

How to use it: Radical flexibility is all about using your assets more effectively and more efficiently to deliver more options for your customers.

  • Gibilaro highlighted the ability to change directions with incredible speed. “With radical flexibility, we have the opportunity to reconfigure the line. … It is not a matter of hours, but a matter of minutes.”

Why it matters: Because radical flexibility allows processes to shift quickly, there’s less wasted time and inventory.

  • “It’s this ability to make things where you need them in small quantities,” said Orchard. “You’re risking much less, and you’re not forced to make these giant bets.”

Learn more: To learn more about radical flexibility, check out the full webinar here.

Business Operations

Beyond the Buzzwords: Manufacturers Tackle Digital Threads

A manufacturing business is filled with internal processes, workflows and standards, and the average factory generates thousands of data points per day. But how does a manufacturer capture that data? How do they preserve institutional knowledge? What if they could automate workflow, create seamless project handoffs and track development around every stage of a project’s life?

The NAM’s Leading Edge program, in partnership with Siemens, asked a panel of experts these questions in “Beyond the Buzzwords: The Digital Thread Journey,” the first in a four-part webinar series focused on understanding the “digital thread” in the workplace. In the first installment of the series, Siemens Vice President of Industry Strategy Dale Tutt and Anduril Industries Chief of Engineering Tom McCarthy introduced us to the idea of the digital thread—what it is, why it matters and how manufacturers can harness its power to succeed.

What it is: The digital thread is a concept rather than a specific technology. According to Tutt, it is about capturing and connecting every piece of a project’s life cycle digitally, and using that connectivity to provide a seamless transition of information from one functional area to another.

  • “We often refer to a digital thread as singular, like it’s a thing,” said McCarthy. “But really, in my mind, it’s a lot of threads. … it ends up being more like a rope than a thread.”

Why it matters: A strong digital thread can automate a manufacturer’s workflow, capture data more effectively, preserve institutional knowledge, trace development processes and even capture the context that informs how decisions are made.

  • Radically new technology means that organizations can accomplish these tasks more successfully than ever before—and that those who ignore that opportunity could be left behind.
  • “The biggest risk is to do nothing and assume this fad will go away,” said McCarthy.

The challenges: One of the biggest challenges in building a strong digital thread in your own workspace is integration and data management.

  • Manufacturing systems need to manage lots of data coming to it in different formats. But according to Tutt, that data needs to be organized in a comprehensible way. “It’s about producing the right data at the right time in the right … format,” said Tutt.
  • According to McCarthy, a digital thread isn’t just a database. It is the key that deciphers that data and makes it accessible and intelligible for the user. “We need a Rosetta Stone,” said McCarthy, “to be able to understand how that data maps onto other tools.”

Implementation and technology: New technology and strategic concepts have enhanced our capacity to build strong digital threads—and with that new ability has come a new and urgent need to make use of the concept to strengthen the manufacturing industry.

  • To get started on your own digital thread journey, Tutt and McCarthy agreed that manufacturers should dig into the existing workflows in their organization and introduce one tool at a time, rather than trying to engineer a master solution all at once.
  • “You can work the digital infrastructure you need for that workflow in pieces, so you can build them up over time,” said McCarthy. “You got to keep your eye on the end game, but if you try to build it all at once, good luck.” 

Learn more: To learn more about digital threads, check out the full webinar here. 

Coming up: In the next three webinars in this series, Beyond the Buzzwords explores a few of those tools and concepts that drive the digital thread in the modern day: artificial intelligence, cloud advancements and radical flexibility.

Policy and Legal

NAM to Senate: Administration March-in Proposal Undermines IP, Innovation

The Biden administration’s push to invoke “march-in” rights is unlawful and would have “disastrous consequences” for the United States if enacted, the NAM told the Senate Tuesday.

What’s going on: Ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on intellectual property in the biopharmaceutical sector, the NAM warned of the potentially dire consequences of the proposed march-in framework issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

  • The NIST proposal would allow the federal government to “march in” and seize manufacturers’ patent rights if an innovation was developed in any part with federal dollars.
  • In the biopharmaceutical sector and other innovative industries, federal funding plays an important role in supporting early-stage research—but further R&D, product development and commercialization require hundreds of millions to billions of dollars in additional capital from investors and established companies.
  • Robust IP protections ensure that manufacturers can bring innovative products to consumers.

Why it’s a problem: March-in would violate manufacturers’ IP rights and prevent investment into lifesaving and life-changing technologies, according to NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Charles Crain.

  • “Allowing march-in based on the price of a product or technology, as the NIST guidance proposes … would undermine manufacturers’ IP rights and have sweeping ramifications for innovation in the United States and America’s world-leading innovation economy,” Crain told the committee.
  • Committee member Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) agreed during the hearing that the proposal is fundamentally flawed. “Any company [that] invents [anything] or any researcher who invents anything is now open to the federal government saying, ‘I want that, and I don’t agree with the price you’re setting for it,’” he said.

What should happen: Congress must stop NIST’s overreach, Crain said.

  • “Policies that threaten IP protections, like NIST’s proposed march-in guidance, will cede one of our greatest advantages to our competitors. Manufacturers [look forward] to work[ing] with the committee to ensure the U.S. maintains the strongest IP protections in the world in order to spur the discovery and commercialization of inventions that improve health and quality of life for all people.”
Press Releases

NAM Publishes First-of-Its-Kind Report on Vast Potential of Artificial Intelligence for Manufacturers

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers released a first-of-its-kind report, “Working Smarter: How Manufacturers Are Using Artificial Intelligence,” detailing use cases for artificial intelligence in manufacturing and case studies of how manufacturers are already implementing AI technologies to strengthen America’s workforce, advance innovation and improve the quality of life for everyone.

The report provides an overview of insights from leading manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson, Schneider Electric and Hitachi, on how AI can improve efficiency, product development, safety, predictive maintenance and supply chain logistics. The report also outlines a series of recommendations on how policymakers can help support the safe, responsible development of AI while promoting innovation and growth.

“So much of the media and policymaking conversation is focused on generative AI, but AI is far more than that for modern manufacturers,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “It’s infused increasingly throughout the shop floor, research and development and beyond. Manufacturers are leading the way in the use and development of new AI technologies. From developing more effective clinical trials and improving workplace safety to strengthening supply chain resiliency and supporting workforce training for employees, AI is unlocking new opportunities to strengthen our modern manufacturing workforce and improve the lives of all Americans. Congress and the Biden administration can support manufacturers’ adoption of AI by enacting strong data privacy protections, investing in workforce training and providing regulatory certainty.”

“All possible futures for modern manufacturing in the U.S. involve AI,” said Johnson & Johnson Executive Vice President and Chief Technical Operations & Risk Officer and NAM Board Chair Kathy Wengel. “Given the importance of this generational technology, policymakers must develop sensible, carefully thought-out frameworks for various AI applications—and they should lean on manufacturers’ years of experience to engineer those frameworks. We need a policy environment that supports innovation and growth in manufacturing AI, because it will bolster U.S. competitiveness and leadership in this critical emerging field.”

Policy recommendations include the following:

  • Invest in R&D and career technical education institutions that train the modern manufacturing workforce.
  • Enact federal privacy legislation that advances individuals’ privacy and provides legal clarity that supports continued innovation and competitiveness.
  • Employ a risk-based approach that tailors any new AI regulations—only if new regulations are necessary—to specific use cases and minimizes compliance burdens.
  • Ensure that regulatory frameworks are aligned globally to maintain U.S. global leadership. The more disparate the approach to AI around the world, the more time, energy and investment companies will need to spend navigating misalignments.

Learn more here.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.89 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 53% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Policy and Legal

NAM First-of-Its-Kind AI Report Includes Policy Recommendations

Artificial intelligence is improving efficiency, workplace safety, product development, machine maintenance and supply chain logistics at manufacturing facilities everywhere, according to a new, first-of-its-kind report from the NAM.

What’s going on: Working Smarter: How Manufacturers Are Using Artificial Intelligence,” released today, details use cases for AI in the sector, discussing how manufacturers nationwide are using it to improve lives everywhere.

  • The report features deep dives on AI-powered technologies at manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson, Schneider Electric and Hitachi.

Trailblazers need good policy, too: “From developing more effective clinical trials and improving workplace safety to strengthening supply chain resiliency and supporting workforce training for employees, AI is unlocking new opportunities to strengthen our modern manufacturing workforce and improve the lives of all Americans,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Congress and the Biden administration can support manufacturers’ adoption of AI by enacting strong data privacy protections, investing in workforce training and providing regulatory certainty.”

  • Legislators should “lean on” manufacturers’ deep experience when drafting AI-related legislation, added Johnson & Johnson Executive Vice President and Chief Technical Operations & Risk Officer and NAM Board Chair Kathy Wengel.
  • “All possible futures for modern manufacturing in the U.S. involve AI,” she said. “Policymakers must develop sensible, carefully thought-out frameworks for various AI applications. … We need a policy environment that supports innovation and growth in manufacturing AI, because it will bolster U.S. competitiveness and leadership in this critical emerging field.”

The recommendations: The report contains immediately implementable policy recommendations for lawmakers:

  • Invest in research and development and career technical education institutions to train the modern manufacturing workforce.
  • Pass federal privacy legislation to advance individuals’ privacy protections and give legal clarity that will support continued innovation by manufacturers.
  • Use a risk-based approach to new AI regulations that tailors any future laws to specific use cases and minimizes the burden of compliance.
  • Ensure that AI regulation is aligned globally.
Policy and Legal

NAM Stands Up for Biopharmaceutical Innovation Before Senate Hearing

In advance of a Senate hearing on health care costs, the NAM is ensuring that senators understand the importance of biopharmaceutical innovation to patients and the U.S. economy—and the damaging impact of policies that hinder drug development.

What’s happening: The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a subcommittee hearing today on whether harmful policies like price controls, compulsory licensing and weaker intellectual property protections for new medicines could reduce servicemembers’ health care costs.

NAM pushes back: The NAM is highlighting the extraordinary investment—in both time and capital—that it takes to bring a lifesaving treatment to market. According to the NAM:

  • The average cost of developing a new drug was $2.3 billion as of 2022;
  • Across the industry, biopharmaceutical manufacturers spent $139 billion on R&D in just 2022 alone;
  • It can take 10 to 15 years for a breakthrough scientific discovery to move through early-stage research, clinical trials, Food and Drug Administration approval and manufacturing; and
  • Only 12% of investigational drugs that enter a Phase I clinical trial ultimately receive FDA approval—to say nothing of the hundreds of discoveries that never make it into clinical trials.

Lifesaving impact: In 2023, the FDA approved a record-breaking 71 new medicines that will improve the lives of patients.

  • The biopharmaceutical industry behind these breakthroughs is also stimulating the U.S. economy: Biopharmaceutical manufacturers accounted for $355 billion in value-added output to the U.S. economy in 2021 and directly employed 291,000 workers in the U.S.

Innovation under threat: In recent years, biopharmaceutical manufacturers have been subject to harmful policies that will limit innovation and slow efforts to develop lifesaving medicines.

  • The Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program subjects life-changing biopharmaceutical innovations to government price controls, while the Biden administration’s “march-in” proposal undermines innovators’ IP rights. These policies make it riskier and more costly for manufacturers to invest in groundbreaking research.
  • What’s more, the prices Americans pay for medicines are influenced heavily by middlemen, such as pharmacy benefit managers rather than biopharma companies. In 2020, more than half of every dollar spent on brand medicines went to PBMs and others in the health care system—not the medicine’s manufacturer.

The final word: “The costs of manufacturing a medicine include potentially decades of research and billions of dollars of investment,” said NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Charles Crain. “Congress must avoid adopting policies that will stymie this lifesaving innovation.”

Input Stories

NAM Stands Up for Biopharmaceutical Innovation Before Senate Hearing


In advance of a Senate hearing on health care costs, the NAM is ensuring that senators understand the importance of biopharmaceutical innovation to patients and the U.S. economy—and the damaging impact of policies that hinder drug development.

What’s happening: The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a subcommittee hearing today on whether harmful policies like price controls, compulsory licensing and weaker intellectual property protections for new medicines could reduce servicemembers’ health care costs.

NAM pushes back: The NAM is highlighting the extraordinary investment—in both time and capital—that it takes to bring a lifesaving treatment to market. According to the NAM:

  • The average cost of developing a new drug was $2.3 billion as of 2022;
  • Across the industry, biopharmaceutical manufacturers spent $139 billion on R&D in just 2022 alone;
  • It can take 10 to 15 years for a breakthrough scientific discovery to move through early-stage research, clinical trials, Food and Drug Administration approval and manufacturing; and
  • Only 12% of investigational drugs that enter a Phase I clinical trial ultimately receive FDA approval—to say nothing of the hundreds of discoveries that never make it into clinical trials.

Lifesaving impact: In 2023, the FDA approved a record-breaking 71 new medicines that will improve the lives of patients.

  • The biopharmaceutical industry behind these breakthroughs is also stimulating the U.S. economy: Biopharmaceutical manufacturers accounted for $355 billion in value-added output to the U.S. economy in 2021 and directly employed 291,000 workers in the U.S.

Innovation under threat: In recent years, biopharmaceutical manufacturers have been subject to harmful policies that will limit innovation and slow efforts to develop lifesaving medicines.

Read the full story here.

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