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Advanced Technologies as a Key Component to Global Manufacturing Competitiveness

United States manufacturing is on the rise and it appears to be destined to claim the number one spot in the world in the next several years, but it will only happen if American manufacturers remain focused on improving their overall competitiveness. As the latest Deloitte manufacturing study identified, there are five key elements (Figure 1) that companies should target if they want to ensure their competitiveness in today’s rapidly evolving manufacturing environment.1

Figure 1.

In our previous article, we examined the first element of ensuring that talent is the top priority. With this article, we will examine the second key element, embracing advanced technologies.

The Importance of Advanced Technologies

Advanced hardware combined with advanced software, sensors, and huge amounts of data and analytics transforms a primarily physical manufacturing environment into a wonderfully efficient fusion of digital and physical worlds. The traditional manufacturing process is elevated to one that is quicker and more profitable, resulting in the creation of better products at a faster rate and ultimately generating greater customer satisfaction.

Because innovations in physical and digital technologies are coming toward us at what seems like warp speed, it’s very easy for manufacturers to fall behind in their understanding and awareness of them. But it’s foolhardy to dismiss them by underestimating the crucial role they play in our overall competitiveness moving forward. On the contrary, such advanced technologies as predictive analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and digital design, simulation and integration are critical to the future success of American manufacturing. Falling behind is not an option if competitiveness is on the agenda.

The Top 10 Advanced Technologies

With so many advanced technologies available, it can be difficult for manufacturers to determine exactly where to devote their attention and decide what makes the most sense for their company. Luckily, Deloitte and the U.S. Council on Competitiveness (CoC) have made it a little easier on us by interviewing dozens of chief technology officers, chief research leaders and directors of national research facilities.2 Using these interviews, they have been able to compile a list of the 10 most promising advanced manufacturing technologies today, as seen in Figure 2.

Deborah L. Wince-Smith, President and CEO of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, explained the importance and impact of advanced technologies. “Advanced technologies are one of America’s brightest economic lights,” she said, “playing a pivotal role in our nation’s GDP, employment and ability to produce high-value products.”

“American executives consistently feel that our entrenched creativity and entrepreneurial spirit have given us an edge,” Wince-Smith continued. “They see especially strong potential in technologies related to the Internet-of-Things–embedded sensors and connected devices, for example. They also see potential in advanced computing, 3D printing and next-generation materials. And they feel excited about the new opportunities that come from combining these advanced technologies in a synergistic manner.”

Every Rose has its Thorn

Although advanced technologies are “one of America’s brightest economic lights,” they do come with the concern of how to incorporate them into a manufacturer’s processes while keeping the company’s intellectual property and private data out of the wrong hands. It’s no surprise that cyber security has become a very hot topic in the wake of advanced technology’s rise to importance.

If you think your company is too small, think again. Both large and small companies are at risk for a data breach at any given time. Cyber thieves have been known to hack into smaller, less secure businesses to gain access to larger businesses in the supply chain. The implementation of advanced technologies such as IoT, where large amounts of data are continuously moving and vulnerable, make it a necessity for a company to also incorporate strong cyber security practices—no matter what the company’s size.

In Deloitte’s article titled “Cyber Risk in Advanced Manufacturing”, they compiled a list of the top 10 questions companies should be asking with regard to their own cyber security. Those questions are:

  1. How do we demonstrate due diligence, ownership, and effective management of cyber risk? Are risk maps developed to show the current risk profile, as well as timely identifying emerging risks we should get ahead of?
  2. Do we have the right leadership and organizational talent? Beyond enterprise systems, who is leading key cyber initiatives related to ICS and connected products?
  3. Have we established an appropriate cyber risk escalation framework that includes our risk appetite and reporting thresholds?
  4. Are we focused on, and investing in, the right things? And, if so, how do we evaluate and measure the results of our decisions?
  5. How do our cyber risk program and capabilities align to industry standards and peer organizations?
  6. How do our awareness programs create cyber-focused mindset and cyber-conscious culture organization wide? Are awareness programs tailored to address special considerations for high-risk employee groups handling sensitive intellectual property, ICS, or connected products?
  7. What have we done to protect the organization against third-party cyber risks?
  8. Can we rapidly contain damages and mobilize response resources when a cyber incident occurs? How is our cyber incident response plan tailored to address the unique risks in ICS and connected products?
  9. How do we evaluate the effectiveness of our organization’s cyber risk program?
  10. Are we a strong and secure link in the highly connected ecosystems in which we operate?

As your company begins to implement advanced technologies, asking yourself these questions about the security of your data is a great starting point. Local law enforcement, regional business clusters, and nearby manufacturing businesses can also be excellent resources for data security and protection. PolymerOhio can help you get in touch with the right people in your area.

Tap Into Our Network of Experts to Help You

With our educational partnerships and network of experts, PolymerOhio can help you tap into the best resources for investigating and implementing current and emerging advanced technologies. We can also assist you with cost-effective resources to ensure your cyber security measures are successful in keeping your data safe. Get in touch with us today and let’s work together to take American manufacturing to the number one position in the world.


Read more about Advanced Technologies in related articles by PolymerOhio:


1 https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/manufacturing/articles/global-manufacturing-competitiveness-index.html

2 https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/press-releases/ten-advanced-technologies-seen-to-shape-manufacturings-future.html



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