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Evaluation of the Second National Conference on Manufacturing Technology Executive Summary The Second National Conference on Manufacturing Technology, held in April 1995 and hosted by the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, had the goal of taking the first steps toward developing a common national agenda for manufacturing technology that could lead to a technology development plan for the next-generation manufacturing system. The specific objectives of the conference were to (1) provide an overview to industry and academia of the National Science and Technology Council's (NSTC) Committee on Civilian Industrial Technology (CCIT), with emphasis on the subcommittees on Manufacturing Infrastructure and Advanced Materials Processing; (2) provide a forum for government to understand the key issues and needs in the U.S. manufacturing sector; (3) provide a forum for industry and academia to evaluate the generic manufacturing framework proposed by the CCIT Subcommittee on Manufacturing Infrastructure and the needs and priorities that arise in the component areas of that framework; and (4) assist in defining the major elements of a common manufacturing technology agenda that integrates the efforts of government, industry, academia, and workforce organizations. CONFERENCE EVALUATION The 1995 conference program consisted of (1) introductory and keynote talks by conference organizers, government, and industry representatives; (2) a panel to introduce and discuss the organization and policies of the NSTC and CCIT; (3) a panel to identify industry-
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Evaluation of the Second National Conference on Manufacturing Technology sector issues and needs; (4) six concurrent workshop sessions to identify industry needs and priorities and to elicit comments on the draft version of five manufacturing infrastructure white papers; and (5) a plenary session to report on the results of the workshop sessions. Panel I Toward a Common Framework for Manufacturing This panel was formed to address the first specific conference objective to provide an overview to industry and academia of the NSTC–CCIT. The National Research Council (NRC) committee concludes that the presentations gave a very clear message describing the NSTC–CCIT and their goals. However, the origin of the manufacturing infrastructure framework, the rationale for the elements of the framework, and the coordination with industry representatives were not clear from the presentations alone. The NRC committee suggests that the speakers could have placed greater emphasis on the conference objectives and the role of the participants in accomplishing the objectives. Also, the format of the panel did not provide sufficient time for discussion with the audience. Panel II Manufacturing Sector Needs and Issues This panel was formed to address the second specific conference objective to provide a forum for government to understand the key issues and needs in the U.S. manufacturing sector. The NRC committee found that each industry-sector representative took a different approach in identifying key issues and needs; many did not relate their needs to the manufacturing infrastructure framework. The representatives generally described issues of importance to their industry and their recent experiences and lessons learned. Most of the speakers were not specific regarding priorities. The discussion of the role of government in addressing industry needs was inconsistent. Specific details on how industry and government should work together were generally lacking, other than descriptions of current programs and initiatives. The format was not conducive to eliciting comments from the conference participants.
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Evaluation of the Second National Conference on Manufacturing Technology Manufacturing Infrastructure Workshops The workshops on Manufacturing Infrastructure were intended to address the third and fourth specific conference objectives to provide a forum for industry and academia to evaluate the generic manufacturing framework and to assist in defining the major elements of a common manufacturing technology agenda that integrates these efforts. The NRC committee found that the organization of each workshop session was different, but all allowed open discussion and comment on the topics discussed. The sessions' use of extensive presentations to explain the status and background of the respective white paper and, in some cases, to stimulate discussion with keynote speakers limited the time available to assess and prioritize needs. The results of the preceding panel discussions were not well integrated with the workshop sessions, causing a disconnect between the panel discussions and the workshop sessions. Although the workshops yielded many issues and ideas, limited time was available to the participants to discuss or prioritize them. The demographics of the workshop participants were not controlled, and thus all relevant perspectives may not have been taken into account in the workshop summaries. The workshop chairs had very little time to extract the critical issues, integrate them into the white papers, and suggest elements for future technology development planning activities. COMMON THEMES AND GAPS The NRC committee identified several major themes that cut across the different infrastructure workshops: (1) each workshop emphasized focusing on the entire manufacturing system; (2) information feedback within the customer-supplier chain is vital to a healthy national manufacturing infrastructure; (3) the need for manufacturing standards, especially standards for computer-integrated manufacturing, is a critical and pervasive issue; (4) the appropriate role for universities in the national manufacturing infrastructure requires better definition; and (5) the relative role of federal and state governments in supporting the manufacturing infrastructure requires further debate and definition.
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Evaluation of the Second National Conference on Manufacturing Technology The committee determined that there were several important aspects of the manufacturing infrastructure that were neglected when viewed from an overall perspective. An effective workforce was described as critical by most of the Manufacturing Sector Needs and Issues panel speakers. However, the manufacturing infrastructure workshop devoted to training and education took primarily an academic perspective without considering the range of required activities. Representation from organizations involved in workforce training, including trade organizations, unions, and the U.S. Department of Labor, would have been particularly helpful. The deployment workshop and supporting white paper only addressed efforts related to small and medium-sized companies that produce discrete parts. Large manufacturing companies were ignored even though the Manufacturing Needs and Issues panel speakers summarized needs that included large manufacturing companies. The keynote presentation and inclinations of many of the participants focused the manufacturing processes and equipment session on discrete machined components and the machine tool industry. Broader discussions of breakthrough, advanced manufacturing processes such as high-speed machining, adaptive feedback control, on-line sensors, or rapid sheet-metal forming were not included in the session, but would be key to the success of next-generation manufacturing. Throughout the conference, the role of universities appeared to be an afterthought. Little recognition was given in the workshops or white papers to the significant investments already made in many of the manufacturing infrastructure areas. There was very little discussion in the workshops or the white papers about environmental issues.
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Evaluation of the Second National Conference on Manufacturing Technology ASSESSMENT OF MANUFACTURING INFRASTRUCTURE TAXONOMY During the conference, representatives from seven industrial sectors described the needs of their particular sector. Seven common industry themes emerged: global competitiveness, teaming and partnership, rapid product development, lean and agile manufacturing, workforce education and training, product realization, and environmental issues. Each working group of the Subcommittee on Manufacturing Infrastructure should examine its linkages with these industry needs and create strong connections wherever appropriate. The NRC committee recommends that each working group consider whether there is an economically justifiable and well-defined role for government in its infrastructure category. Wherever possible, these deliberations should be industry-led to provide the best possible chance for economically sound decisions. Government-sponsored or -funded programs that are created from the six manufacturing infrastructure categories must also have strong industry participation to keep them aimed at commercially important targets. The six manufacturing infrastructure categories appear to be a viable way of developing a national manufacturing agenda provided that (1) each category is more strongly linked to industry needs; (2) appropriate, value-added roles for industry, government, and academia are clearly defined for each category; (3) areas of overlap between categories are recognized and suitably dealt with; and (4) actions created from the six categories have strong industry participation or, preferably, leadership. Because the six infrastructure white papers have evolved independently, it is not surprising to find substantial overlap and some gaps. In translating these infrastructure categories into future actions, it will be necessary to eliminate overlaps to avoid duplication of activities and to address the omission of areas of major importance. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE 1996 CONFERENCE The NRC committee recommends that the 1996 conference be structured so that it provides both information to the participants regarding the national goal of manufacturing excellence and industry-initiated guidance to government technology program managers. The status of the project on next-generation manufacturing should be a focus of the 1996 conference.
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Evaluation of the Second National Conference on Manufacturing Technology The NRC committee recommends that the overall goals of the 1996 conference include (1) demonstration of industry leadership in the national initiative in manufacturing excellence, (2) validation by industry representatives that further development of the manufacturing infrastructure area (with government programs addressing the high-risk, long-range projects) is a timely and crucial national objective, and (3) broad-based industry input to and validation of the preliminary results from the study on next-generation manufacturing. The NRC committee recommends the following specific objectives for the 1996 conference: (1) validation by industry and academia of, and suggestions to improve, federal agency activities related to manufacturing infrastructure programs and the preliminary results from the project on next-generation manufacturing; (2) description of the overall technology planning process, including the identification at previous workshops of the manufacturing infrastructure as a national need and the rationale for the manufacturing infrastructure categories, the use of results from the project on next-generation manufacturing by various government agencies, and assessment of how current government projects fit into the technology maps (i.e., strategy for development and implementation including present initiatives); and (3) identification of critical issues and needs to facilitate technology implementation within industry. The objective and purpose of the conference must be clearly announced well in advance of the conference date. Speakers, panel members, and workshop leaders need adequate preparation time. Participants must know what is expected regarding their input and endorsement well in advance of the conference, so that the right level of management is represented. All material that participants should review before the conference must be provided to them at least several weeks in advance of the meeting. The structure of the meeting is crucial to achieving the desired outcome. In order for the participants to critique panel presentations meaningfully, the meeting must be structured to facilitate active audience interaction. The NRC committee encourages the use of facilitators in each workshop session. The facilitators need not be expert in manufacturing technologies but should be trained to keep the discussion and interaction continually focused on the objectives. They should ask penetrating questions of the participants as required to clarify the different issues and recommendations that will arise. Use of facilitators will free the workshop chairs to conduct the proceedings.
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Evaluation of the Second National Conference on Manufacturing Technology REPORT ORGANIZATION The NRC committee findings are organized into four chapters. Chapter 1 introduces the background and organization of the 1995 manufacturing technology conference. Chapter 2 contains the NRC committee's synopsis and assessment of each portion of the conference. Chapter 3 evaluates the break-out of the manufacturing infrastructure elements as presented at the conference. Chapter 4 provides the committee's recommendations for the 1996 conference based on the experience gained during the 1995 conference. The appendices contain supporting information.
Representative terms from entire chapter: