Improving digital manufacturing adoption in the US - Global Trade Magazine
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  August 23rd, 2018 | Written by

Improving digital manufacturing adoption in the US

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  • US manufacturers, and especially small manufacturers, have been slow to adopt digital manufacturing processes.
  • Most US companies remain at the initial stages of manufacturing technology adoption.
  • “More needs to be done to facilitate the uptake of digital manufacturing practices and technologies.”

Information and communication technology (ICT) is reshaping modern manufacturing around the world, but a new report released today by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the world’s top-ranked think tank for science and technology policy, finds that US manufacturers, and especially small manufacturers, have been slow to adopt digital manufacturing processes. Examining smart manufacturing adoption in the United States and Korea, the report offers policy recommendations to improve smart manufacturing adoption.

“For all smart manufacturing’s promise, most US companies remain just at the initial stages of manufacturing technology adoption,” said ITIF Vice President Stephen Ezell, lead author of the report. “More needs to be done to facilitate the uptake of digital manufacturing practices and technologies.”

The report examines US manufacturers’ adoption rates of various smart manufacturing applications, such as the Industrial Internet of Things, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and data analytics, robotics, and finds that in some cases US manufacturers trail international competitors in adoption of shop-floor smart manufacturing implementations.

The report offers a series of policy recommendations to further advance the digitalization of US manufacturing, including: creating regional digital manufacturing hubs/scale pilot digital manufacturing centers/testbeds; introducing mechanisms to encourage original equipment manufacturers to take more ownership of manufacturing supply chain digitalization; increasing funding for the US Manufacturing Extension Partnership; supporting small- to medium-sized enterprises’ digital manufacturing investments; providing more generous tax credits for investments in new machinery and equipment; expanding funding for Manufacturing USA Institutes and make funding permanent; and improving federal tracking of data on US manufacturers’ implementation of digital technologies.

“Large and small manufacturers alike face challenges in fully maximizing the promise of smart manufacturing,” Ezell said. “Other countries are doing significantly more to support the digitalization of their manufacturing sectors, and the United States should develop a more comprehensive strategy to support its domestic industry.”