Disruptive Innovations Reports

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The Institute has begun a new research series in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers called Disruptive Innovations in Manufacturing.  The series looks at new technologies that are changing the face of manufacturing and analyzes how those technologies will impact the workforce, the market, and the growth of manufacturing in the United States.

The first report in the series focuses on Additive Manufacturing or 3D Printing.  This technology has captured the imagination of the press and public at-large, with visions of printers in every home producing custom-fit clothing, new cell phones, and replacement car parts.  While this vision may never be reality, 3D Printing is poised to change the face of manufacturing.

The second report in the series is on Next Generation Robotics.  Industrial robots are on the verge of revolutionizing manufacturing. As they become smarter, faster and cheaper, they’re being called upon to do more. They’re taking on more “human” capabilities and traits such as sensing, dexterity, memory and trainability.  Also, a new generation of “collaborative” robots are literally working hand-in-hand with human workers who train them through physical demonstration.

The third report in the series is on Internet of Things. Industrial robots are on the verge of revolutionizing manufacturing. The world is hurtling into an era of deep data inter-connectivity. From collars with microchips that map a pet’s wanderings to jet engines alerting manufacturers of imminent maintenance needs, the Internet is getting hit with conversations from one device to another. So, what does this data flow and pervasive connectivity via the Internet of Things (IoT) mean for manufacturing? The report surveyed US manufacturers to learn more about what they are doing (or not doing) and what plans are afoot toward building more sophisticated data-driven businesses.

The fourth report is titled Upskilling manufacturing: How technology is disrupting America's industrial labor force. US manufacturing is undergoing sea changes on numerous fronts— from swiftly evolving, disruptive technologies, to new customer expectations, to an entirely new set of global competitors. And, as technologies are adopted by manufacturers at a mind-boggling pace, capturing and nurturing the right talent to exploit that technology is looming as a pressing issue. This isn’t a new problem. The post-WWII boom in US manufacturing came with concerns surrounding a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills shortage we hear about today. But, while a generation ago, a high school degree was the ticket to a career in manufacturing, today, post- secondary education is increasingly a requirement.

Industrial Mobility: How autonomous vehicles can change manufacturing. The popular fascination with self-driving passenger cars has opened a new era of how we envision moving people. Meanwhile, a parallel lane has also opened: automating how we move things. While we have yet to marvel at convoys of driverless and digitally connected eighteen-wheelers, or even set cargo-hoisting drones aflight, they seem nearly visible on the horizon. To get a sharper view of where we are and where we’re going in industrial mobility, PwC and The Manufacturing Institute carried out a survey of 128 large and mid-sized US manufacturers and transportation companies.

Navigating the fourth industrial revolution to the bottom line. A new report from PwC and The Manufacturing Institute shows that companies are making progress in implementing new technologies, but scaling and linking investment to value remains a work in progress. In addition, it suggests that automation may have a significant impact for people interested in the manufacturing industry, especially with an increased need for talent to manage a more automated, flexible production environment and new jobs for workers who can engineer robotics and their operating systems, to name a few opportunities. 

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