Manufacturing.gov is a national manufacturing portal, a gateway to the wide and deep array of federal government initiatives, programs and resources that exist to support, strengthen and advance all aspects of manufacturing in the US. Here are the top five things to know about this massive resource.
1. The reach of the umbrella
Under the Manufacturing.gov umbrella, there are a slew of institutes, programs and partners.
Sixteen manufacturing innovation institutes connect government and academia with major manufacturing corporations. These groups work on R&D projects for the industry, test new technologies and create new products.
Manufacturing-oriented programs are aimed at upping the nation’s ability to compete with advanced manufacturing. Programs include the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership, which encourages communities to develop economic development plans to attract manufacturing and supply chain investments; MForesight, an alliance created to allow private-sector input for guiding R&D priorities in advanced manufacturing technology; and the National Robotics Initiative, which accelerates the development and use of cobots.
Partners include the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy and Labor, as well as NASA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (a research lab focused on enhancing industrial competitiveness), and the National Science Foundation (supporting research, education and workforce training for advanced manufacturing). It truly is a big umbrella.
Manufacturers can take advantage of many cybersecurity resources through Manufacturing.gov, such as MForesight’s publication, “Cybersecurity for Manufacturers: Securing the Digitized and Connected Factory.”
There also is a host of information about the business value of strong cybersecurity as well as cybersecurity risks and threats, and case studies created by the National Cyber Security Alliance that illustrate the varied potential of cybersecurity threats.
Also available is the Association for Manufacturing Technology’s short article, “IT and OT: Finding Common Ground – Cybersecurity for Digital Manufacturing,” written by Benjamin Moses on the divide between OT (operational technology) and IT (information technology).
3. Smart manufacturing
Manufacturers interested in exploring and embracing smart manufacturing (aka, Industry 4.0) will be interested in MForesight’s “Smart Manufacturing: A Primer for Small Manufacturers.”
Mforesight soon will commence a new project, Smart Manufacturing for Small and Medium Manufacturers, citing recent surveys showing that small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) have made little progress in implementing the technology. In consultation with manufacturers, consultants and technology providers, this project will match technology solutions with specific “pain points” typically encountered on the shop floor of SMMs and provide a practical path forward.
4. Workforce development
For manufacturers, workforce development is a perpetual effort. To attract the next wave of job candidates to a facility, some manufacturers participate in Manufacturing Day, an annual event that takes place on the first Friday of October.
The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) is the go-to resource for putting on a Manufacturing Day event at a plant, and also provides companies with services and access to public and private resources to enhance growth, improve productivity, reduce costs and expand capacity. Visit MEP’s website to find a local MEP Center.
To learn about 30 programs and initiatives on workforce development for advanced manufacturing, see MForesight’s publication, “AMERICA’S NEXT MANUFACTURING WORKFORCE: Promising Practices in Education and Skills Building,” at http://mforesight.org/projects-events/mfg-workforce/.
5. Apprenticeship program
The Department of Labor is ready to help manufacturers set up apprenticeships through its Registered Apprenticeship Program. This program comes with some attractive incentives, including technical assistance at no charge, state tax credits and recruiting incentives (such as incentives involving veterans eligible for GI Bill benefits).
The program allows manufacturers to dive into apprenticeship at their own level of advancement – at the exploring, building, partnering, registering or launching stage.
To learn more, visit www.apprenticeship.gov/apprenticeship-industries/advanced-manufacturing.