Transportation and Infrastructure

Input Stories

Ship with Legs Will Be World’s Biggest Wind Farm


A planned offshore wind farm whose developers are billing it as the largest in the world has produced electricity for the first time, according to CNBC.  

What’s going on: “Located in the North Sea, over 130 kilometers off England’s northeast coast, the Dogger Bank Wind Farm still has some way to go before it’s fully operational, but the installation and powering up of its first turbine is a major feat in itself. That’s because GE Vernova’s Haliade-X turbines stand 260 meters tall—that’s higher than San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge—and have blades measuring 107 meters.”

  • Once the installation is complete, the ship will have 277 Haliade-X turbines.

Why it’s a game-changer: “Described by Dogger Bank as the ‘largest offshore jack-up installation vessel ever built,’ in many ways, it’s the pinnacle of an extensive supply chain involving numerous businesses and stakeholders.”

  • Thanks to four legs that allow the vessel to lift itself above the water’s surface, the wind farm will be able to operate in depths of up to 80 meters—some 30 meters deeper than fixed-foundation wind farms.

Power producer: Once fully up and running, project developers say the Dogger Bank Wind Farm will have a capacity of 3.6 gigawatts, enough “to power as many as 6 million homes per year.”

  • For the sake of comparison, the U.K.’s fully operational Hornsea 2—considered a major wind farm—has a capacity of just over 1.3 GW, according to another CNBC piece.

A complex project: The totality of the undertaking is “huge,” according to one source, and being made more complex “by the use of next-generation turbines and a next-generation installation vessel.”

  • Given the immense size of the Haliade-X turbines, “we use a number of specially designed pieces of equipment to transport” them, a GE Offshore Wind spokesperson said.

The NAM’s view:  “Offshore wind can be an important part of an all-of-the-above energy strategy that helps meet energy security and decarbonization goals,” said NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Brandon Farris. “Manufacturers keep leading the way with investments in the next generation of energy technologies—and the NAM will continue to advocate energy policies that provide manufacturers affordable, reliable energy.”  ​​​​​​​

Input Stories

Key U.S.–Mexico Trade Route Reopens


The Bridge of the Americas in South-Central El Paso, Texas—one of the largest land ports for U.S.–Mexico trade—restarted commercial operations on a limited schedule yesterday, according to a notice from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

  • It’s a development that the NAM advocated, having engaged in continued talks with the Biden administration and relevant agencies since cargo movement was suspended last month.  

What’s going on: The port of entry reopened at 6:00 a.m. Tuesday and closed at 2:00 p.m., a schedule it will keep temporarily each week Monday through Friday.

  • In recent weeks, large numbers of migrants have crossed the Texas–Mexico border, and the CBP stopped commercial movement along the Bridge of the Americas so federal customs agents could assist with the influx.

Why it’s important: “The temporary bridge closure and the Texas Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) enhanced safety truck inspections at El Paso’s two other truck ports of entry have drastically slowed cargo truck crossings in recent weeks between El Paso and Juárez, Mexico,” according to the El Paso Times on MSN.

  • Last week, the value of goods in thousands of trucks backed up on the Mexican side of the border “had surpassed $1.5 billion,” according to a source cited by Reuters (subscription).
  • Prior to the temporary closure, the bridge had been processing approximately 500 northbound trucks a day, according to the El Paso Times.

The NAM says: “Mexico is the largest trading partner of the U.S. and facilitating trade between the two countries is vital to manufacturers’ operations,” said NAM Director of Trade Facilitation Policy Ali Aafedt. “The NAM will continue to share the impacts of the disruption with the federal government and urge solutions to resolve the continuing backlog.” 
 

Business Operations

How Manufacturers Can Strengthen Supply Chains’ Resilience

Since the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, supply chains have faced extraordinary challenges around the world. In the midst of shortages and disruptions, as well as global conflicts, how can manufacturers ensure that they receive the materials they need and deliver their products on time?

At a recent NAM event, attended by more than 75 executives from both manufacturing companies and association partners, Supply Chain Insights Founder Lora Cecere addressed the question of how the industry can build resiliency into the supply chain of the future. Here’s some useful advice from her keynote speech, called “Supply Chain Workshop: Connecting and Securing the Supply Chain for 2030.”

Defining resilience: As Cecere noted, in many cases manufacturers may have different ideas about what resilience represents—and it’s important to settle on a clear definition.

  • “I define resilience as the ability to have the same cost quality and customer service given the level of demand and supply variability,” she said.

Differentiating supply chains: While most manufacturers talk about the supply chain as a unified system, Cecere encouraged participants to differentiate various kinds of supply chains from one another.

  • “We have responsive supply chains that are all about time—things like flu vaccines and bathing suits,” which must be shipped during certain seasons, Cecere observed.
  • “And then there’s the agile supply chain, which is very low volume and not predictable. We can’t measure that in the same way we measure the efficient supply chain, but we need to manage flow.”
  • “We don’t have just one supply chain. We have multiple supply chains,” she emphasized.

Putting customers at the center: As businesses design and adjust their supply chains, customers can get lost in the equation, Cecere cautioned. In one exercise she has used in her research, she asks participants to draw a supply chain—and the results she’s received show how many manufacturers are leaving out an important piece of the puzzle.

  • “Most people will start with a truck, smokestack, then a factory, a mill,” said Cecere. “But isn’t the supply chain really about the customer? And how do we align the customer from the customer’s customer to the supplier’s supplier? … The role of the supply chain is the delivery to the customer.”

Using data effectively: According to Cecere, about 80% of supply chain data is not used. She encourages manufacturers to look creatively at the wide range of data available to generate useful insights.

  • “We’re not looking at all the data we have, and we’re not thinking hard enough about how we use it,” she said.

Developing purple unicorns: Cecere encouraged participants to develop teams of “purple unicorns”—people with strong supply chain domain knowledge who can also innovate—and allow them to test new ideas and learn from failure.

The last word: “Supply chain excellence is not functional excellence—it is the ability to drive outcomes,” said Cecere. “This cannot be about the lowest cost; this has to be about the best potential of flow for cost, quality, customer service and inventory.”

Learn more: For more information, check out the full presentation here.

Input Stories

How Manufacturers Can Strengthen Supply Chains’ Resilience


Since the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, supply chains have faced extraordinary challenges around the world. In the midst of shortages and disruptions, as well as global conflicts, how can manufacturers ensure that they receive the materials they need and deliver their products on time?

At a recent NAM event, attended by more than 75 executives from both manufacturing companies and association partners, Supply Chain Insights Founder Lora Cecere addressed the question of how the industry can build resiliency into the supply chain of the future. Here’s some useful advice from her keynote speech, called “Supply Chain Workshop: Connecting and Securing the Supply Chain for 2030.”

Defining resilience: As Cecere noted, in many cases manufacturers may have different ideas about what resilience represents—and it’s important to settle on a clear definition.

  • “I define resilience as the ability to have the same cost quality and customer service given the level of demand and supply variability,” she said.

Differentiating supply chains: While most manufacturers talk about the supply chain as a unified system, Cecere encouraged participants to differentiate various kinds of supply chains from one another.

  • “We have responsive supply chains that are all about time—things like flu vaccines and bathing suits,” which must be shipped during certain seasons, Cecere observed.
  • “And then there’s the agile supply chain, which is very low volume and not predictable. We can’t measure that in the same way we measure the efficient supply chain, but we need to manage flow.”
  • “We don’t have just one supply chain. We have multiple supply chains,” she emphasized.

Learn more: To hear more from Cecere, attend “Manufacturing in 2030: The Coming Data Value Revolution,” an event of the NAM’s digital-transformation arm, the Manufacturing Leadership Council, Dec. 6-7 in Nashville, Tennessee. Register here.    

Read the full story here.
 

Input Stories

For Critical Minerals, Companies Look to Old Mines


In the push for more critical minerals, governments and companies worldwide are looking to “a new but also old source”: closed mines, or brownfield sites, The Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

What’s going on: “[O]pening new mines takes years—particularly when faced with strong local opposition—and delays might hamper policymakers’ efforts to diversify these supply chains. Even with recent investment announcements, analysts are forecasting supply shortfalls.”

  • Reopening shuttered mines is often a quicker and less painstaking process because it allows the companies to “avoid damaging new land and work with local communities that have a memory of economic activity the industry can bring,” as a source told the Journal.

A successful start: One Swedish mining company is seeking to reopen an old copper-and-zinc mine in Norway that closed 25 years ago owing to low copper prices. “Last month, the local municipality unanimously approved plans to reopen” the mine.

  • Several American firms are now seeking to reopen closed U.S. sites in the Southwest, and other projects are being planned in Italy and Germany.

​​​​​​​A “shift” in the U.S.: A U.S. company with plans to reopen an old gold mine in Idaho recently received funding from the Defense Department, which recognized the importance of the site as a source of antimony, a much-needed mineral in the defense sector.

  • “The shift we are seeing in the United States is a growing recognition that we must secure supply chains, and a way to do that is bringing mining home and that means getting the public comfortable to bring mining home,” an executive at the firm told the Journal.
Input Stories

Factory Orders, Shipments Rose in August

New orders for manufactured goods increased in August after declining in July, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Factory orders: New orders rose 1.2% in August following a 2.1% decrease the previous month.

  • Factory orders for durable and nondurable goods increased 0.1% and 2.1%, respectively, but declines in nondefense aircraft and components pulled down durable goods demand.
  • Excluding transportation equipment, new factory orders jumped 1.4%, rising for the third month in a row.

Core capital goods: New orders for core capital goods—or nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft, a proxy for capital spending in the U.S. economy—increased 0.9% to a record high of $73.95 billion in August.

Factory shipments: Factory shipments rose 1.3% in August, marking the fourth consecutive monthly increase.

  • Total factory shipments have risen 0.5% over the past year, dipping 0.9% year over year when transportation equipment is excluded.
  • Factory shipments excluding transportation equipment have increased 1.0% year to date.

Shipments of core capital goods: Shipments of core capital goods rose 0.7% in August, to an all-time high of $74.38 billion, reflecting 2.6% growth over the past 12 months.

Policy and Legal

NAM Leads Inaugural North American Manufacturing Conference

a man standing in front of a group of people posing for a photo

On Sept. 19–20, the NAM convened the inaugural North American Manufacturing Conference in Washington, D.C., along with its counterpart associations from Mexico and Canada, the Confederation of Industrial Chambers of Mexico and Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters.

What’s going on: The conference provided an opportunity for North American manufacturing executives and government representatives to share perspectives on the opportunities and challenges facing the sector across the region. At the conference, industry leaders discussed the need to:

Deepening ties: On Wednesday, the NAM, CONCAMIN and CME signed a memorandum of understanding that will serve as a roadmap for future cooperation between the three organizations and support close economic ties between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

  • The memorandum calls for the organizations to share information about each one’s services and activities, and to work together to shape the continent’s future manufacturing agenda.
  • In addition to leaders from the NAM, CONCAMIN and CME, speakers at the event included U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, ExxonMobil Senior Vice President Neil Chapman, Toyota Motor North America Executive Vice President – Product Support and Chief Quality Officer Chris Nielsen, Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE), Bombardier Head of U.S. Strategy Tonya Sudduth, Energy Transfer Co-CEO Tom Long and Caterpillar Inc. Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of Integrated Components and Solutions Division Karl Weiss.

Common principles: “Shared values, shared prosperity” was a central theme of the conference, echoing President Biden’s remarks at the U.N. General Assembly earlier this week.

  • “As president of the United States, I understand the duty my country has to lead in this critical moment; to work with countries in every region linking them in common cause; to join together with partners who share a common vision of the future of the world,” President Biden said in New York on Wednesday.
  • “There’s never been a greater need for us to stand together,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said. “The world is caught between different political and economic systems. Our system here in North America enriches lives and lifts people up into freedom and prosperity, while other systems oppress their people and rob them of their liberty,” he continued, adding that the USMCA, of which the NAM is a longtime advocate, serves as a reminder “of what we can achieve when we work together.”

Strengthening the region: Throughout the conference, discussions focused on three components of a successful North American economy—growth, resilience and competitiveness—and the critical role manufacturers play in that system.

  • “Today, we live in a new reality,” CONCAMIN President José Antonio Abugaber Andonie said. “The commercial competition with China, the pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine … [all] place us before a second great industrial transformation in North America. … Some call it nearshoring, friend-shoring, ally-shoring or reshoring. No matter the name, the truth is that this phenomenon is modifying the structure of international industrial organization. North America is the epicenter of this transformation.”
  • Added CME President and CEO Dennis A. Darby: “Manufacturers are an important driver of economic development and prosperity. We are key players in the changes and challenges of the 21st century.”
Input Stories

Maersk Introduces First Green-Methanol Container Ship

In a milestone for the logistics sector, Danish shipping firm Maersk recently unveiled “its first container vessel moved with green methanol,” CNBC reports.

What’s going on: “The new container ship, ordered in 2021, has two engines: one moved by traditional fuels and another run with green methanol—an alternative component, which uses biomass or captured carbon and hydrogen [for] renewable power. Practically speaking, the new vessel emits 100 tons of carbon dioxide fewer per day compared to diesel-based ships.”

  • The ship is the first of a larger order of 25 due for delivery next year.
  • Other shipping firms have placed orders for similar vessels.

Why it’s important: Because it’s a global industry—with approximately 90% of the world’s traded products traveling by sea—ocean shipping has typically been less receptive to transitioning to new energy sources, Danish Minister of Industry Morten Bodskov said, according to the article.

  • For example, “[i]n June, a group of 20 nations supported a plan for a levy on shipping industry emissions. But China, Argentina and Brazil were among the nations pushing back against such an idea.”

Climate goals: Maersk aims to be “climate neutral” by 2040, making the green-methanol vessels a key part of its approximately 700-ship fleet.

However … “[A]nalysts are worried that Maersk and its competitors might struggle to find enough supply of green methanol. The fuel is scarce and costly to transport.”

The last word: “Manufacturers are leading the way on developing and scaling up new clean energy sources,” said NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Brandon Farris. “The NAM continues to advocate for policies and programs that foster and encourage that innovation.”

Input Stories

Preparing the Supply Chain for Future Pandemics


Manufacturers can take specific steps to improve the resilience of the health care supply chain, the NAM’s latest health care study found.

What’s going on: The study—conducted by the Manufacturing Policy Initiative at Indiana University—analyzes data from the COVID-19 pandemic, when manufacturers in the U.S. had to produce large quantities of critical health care equipment under difficult, fast-evolving conditions.

Building resilience: The study found that to prepare the supply chain for a future disruption of similar magnitude, manufacturers should focus on seven areas:

  • Speed: Manufacturers must be able to satisfy demand quickly.
  • Information: Manufacturers require timely access to accurate information.
  • Cost: Firms face the costs of taking action within the supply chain, as well as the costs of managing market unpredictability and policy environment uncertainty.
  • Networks: Partnerships can support information sharing and networks to help manufacturers navigate the disruption.
  • Size: Supply chain challenges can look different for small, medium-sized and new manufacturers than for larger, established firms.
  • Technology: Tech can help manufacturers increase production, improve efficiency and speed up innovation.
  • Flexibility: Responses can come from unexpected sources and need a flexible policy environment.

The NAM says: “Policymakers should utilize these lessons to bolster our supply chain for the next disruption,” NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray said. “This analysis … reveals that there are key policy actions needed to strengthen the manufacturing supply chain. Research shows a more balanced regulatory agenda, with an emphasis on clarity, predictability and coordination, will help mitigate the effects of the next disruption.”
​​​​

Input Stories

  House Passes Emissions-Rules Measure 

In a victory for manufacturers, the House yesterday passed an NAM-backed bill that would prohibit states from banning the sale of new gas-powered vehicles, the Washington Examiner reports.

What’s going on: “Lawmakers voted 222–190 to pass the Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act, which would amend federal law to block state attempts to eliminate the sale of vehicles with internal combustion engines as well as prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing waivers that ban such sales.”

The background: In recent months, the EPA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and state of California have all proposed measures to limit emissions from light- and medium-duty vehicles.

Why it’s important: The range of frequently conflicting regulations is creating confusion and regulatory uncertainty for manufacturers.

  • The Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act would eliminate that confusion by “harmoniz[ing] vehicle emissions standards,” NAM Managing Vice President of Policy Chris Netram told lawmakers. “When manufacturers have regulatory clarity, we can focus on what we do best—innovating, creating jobs and investing in America.”

What’s next: The measure now moves to the Senate.
 

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