In response to the statement of task (Appendix A), and based on the information collected during this fast-track study, the committee identified topics that are critical to the long-term success of the Department of Defense (DoD) Manufacturing USA institutes. Several of these may also be of interest to the non-DoD institutes. However, because the committee was not tasked to identify the issues of critical importance to the Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Commerce (DOC) institutes, it is not in a position to declare what is most critical to the DOE and DOC institutes. However, the committee did receive strong input that the following topics are critical to the DoD institutes, and so it recommends the following as potential follow-on topics for in-depth consensus studies for DoD.
A longer follow-on report to this fast-track study has the opportunity to more solidly build on relevant past studies, including supporting (or non-supporting) literature. It also has the possibility to more extensively collect data and metrics and to leverage publicly available information to analyze each institute. Such investigation could look at relative strengths and weaknesses of existing approaches in the institutes in a more detailed manner than addressed by this report. Collected data could also include what the membership composition is for each institute, and what insights this composition might suggest about the institute’s strengths and weaknesses. It could also look at differences between key stakeholder groups, including any differentiation across institutes. A follow-on study could also allow for a discussion on whether or not these institutes are meeting the original intent of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and the role that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Advanced Manufactur-
ing National Program Office has and should play in coordinating the network of institutes.
The eight topics below may be more than one committee can undertake in a single study. Therefore, the committee recommends that DoD prioritize the topics for a Phase II study. However, the committee believes that the first topic, “Evaluation Criteria for DoD Manufacturing Innovation Institutes,” is the most pressing one.
Evaluation Criteria for DoD Manufacturing Innovation Institutes
What elements should be considered in evaluating DoD Manufacturing USA institutes if they are to be subject to a review process for an extension of their current terms?
DoD should develop performance metrics aligned with the strategic goals of the DoD Manufacturing USA institutes. There should be a formal evaluation process when institutes apply for renewal for an additional term.
An institute’s performance evaluation could be designed to be similar to a “Blue Ribbon Panel Review” and completed 1 year before the end of the contracted term of an institute. Careful study needs to be undertaken to develop both the evaluation process and the factors applied to it that could be performed by an expert outside review team.
Institutes and their participants need a transparent process in order to fully understand how they will be evaluated ahead of time so that their work is aligned with the evaluation metrics. They need a process that is as consistent as possible across the institutes, although it must be recognized that different institute technologies are in quite different stages of development and implementation, so evaluations will still have to be individualized for different institutes. However, as yet, there is no such common process that has been considered and developed. If a DoD Manufacturing USA institute is making adequate progress, the evaluation team could recommend to DoD that it be renewed for an additional 5- to 7-year term. Conversely, if progress is inadequate, it could be terminated or recommended for renewal that is contingent on specific improvements. Since the underlying technology area may be critical to DoD interests, it could also recommend re-competing the institute technology area seeking different leadership and organizational changes. An evaluation could also make recommendations for improved progress at the institute. But much more work is required on the process and evaluation factors to be used in institute extensions or termination, including the supporting data. This requires detailed and careful study.
One important question during such an evaluation is whether these institutes should remain DoD-centric. Another is whether and how the institute is contribut-
ing value by lowering the barrier to collaboration among industry, academia, and government, and if an institute is perceived to be of value to DoD stakeholders who are not part of the institute ecosystem. This evaluation could also examine such elements as an institute’s performance against its roadmaps, the impact of its current and planned technology development (including exactly how they accelerate and facilitate the translation of new manufacturing technologies to large and small industries), an explanation of their revenues and the “products” that generate them, the reach of its workforce education efforts (including reskilling, skills matching of U.S. veterans) in disseminating new technologies, involvement of small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), and continued support and cost-sharing by industry and states (including whether or not cost share should still be expected in the DoD customer model). Finally, an evaluation could be conducted to determine how these institutes stand as a national investment by conducting a deeper assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of existing alternate institute models beyond the DoD Manufacturing USA institutes. But much depth needs to be added to these elements.
Additionally, the nature of the nonprofit company administering each institute affects sustainability, manufacturing ecosystem engagement, U.S. competitiveness, and DoD alignment. Any evaluation of the DoD institutes should comment on this aspect of the organization and potential alternative options. It should also comment adequately on the structure of the institute business operations.
Relationship and Linkage of the Institutes to DoD and the Federal Research System
How could institutes be better linked to DoD and the federal research system?
Study is required to find better mechanisms and ways for DoD and the federal research system (particularly 6.1-6.3–level research) to be linked to and developed for institutes and their technology areas. Because they work at the technology readiness level (TRL)/manufacturing readiness level 4 to 7 levels, the institutes need a “feeder system” for earlier-stage research advances; otherwise, over time the institutes will tend to face “stranded technology” problems (i.e., they will have limited scientific input into the technology areas they are pursuing and will be limited in their ability to keep incorporating new ideas and approaches). Study is therefore needed on ways to assure that research and development (R&D) agencies are picking up and investing in technology agenda areas needed by institutes. For example, study is needed on how to bring additional R&D agencies (e.g., DoD research and technology, National Science Foundation centers, DOE laboratories) into joint institute-agency technology planning and roadmapping processes.
Institute Linkage to DoD Acquisition, Operations and Maintenance, and Related Processes and Projects
Invent Here, Build Here: How could institutes be better linked to DoD acquisition, operations and maintenance, and related processes and projects?
DoD’s acquisition system has the potential to stand up new technology advances coming out of the DoD Manufacturing USA institutes. This could help jump-start deployment of new institute technologies as well as benefit DoD (a leading customer) with early access to new efficiencies and technologies. Most private-sector manufacturing firms tend to be risk- and cost-averse and are unlikely to take on initial risk. DoD could assist in pursuing testing, prototyping for the actual design stage and initial procurement, which institutes would otherwise not be able to accomplish without a DoD role. While this report has made recommendations along these lines, a more detailed study of the processes needed to enable this, including regulatory and acquisition system issues, is required. For example, could DoD reinstitute and improve its Industrial Modernization Incentives Program,1 apply Defense Production Act Title III authorities,2 utilize its Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment program,3 or use its Value Engineering program4 in new ways? While this could be a key additional mechanism to enable DoD to realize gains from the institutes, a more detailed study of how this approach could actually operate is needed. This step could be important to accelerating and scaling innovation coming out of institutes. Another aspect to consider is how to improve the communication of institute developments.
Best Practice Adoption of Education and Workforce Development Efforts
What are the best practices DoD Manufacturing USA institutes could adopt in their education and workforce development efforts, both as individual institutes and in collaboration?
A number of DoD Manufacturing USA institutes now see education and workforce development (EWD) as a critical “technology dissemination” model: the
1 U.S. Government Accountability Office, 1985, DOD’s Industrial Modernization Incentives Program: An Evolving Program Needing Policy and Management Improvement, NSIAD-85-131, https://www.gao.gov/products/NSIAD-85-131.
2 U.S. Department of Defense, “Defense Production Act (DPA) Title III,” https://www.businessdefense.gov/Programs/DPA-Title-III.
4 AcqNotes, “Science & Engineering: Value Engineering,” http://acqnotes.com/acqnote/careerfields/value-engineering.
way that engineers and technicians can learn, adopt, and implement the institute’s technologies. In other words, unless engineers and technicians at companies of all sizes are ready to work with the new technology, there simply will not be technology adoption out of the institutes at the scale and in the time frames needed. The focus of institutes on technology development appears to require a corresponding parallel focus on EWD. Otherwise, to use an analogy, the institutes risk building an aircraft and failing to train the pilots to fly it. Further study is needed on the best ways and education approaches to develop effective EWD programs, including the critical role of scalable online technologies.
In addition, companies pursuing advanced manufacturing likely will not implement only one institute technology, but will need to pursue a number of them. In other words, a firm will not just undertake 3D printing. It will also want to consider other technologies such as robotics, digital production, power electronics, or more specialized areas like advanced composites, biofabrication, or photonics. The Department of Labor and the Department of Education have only limited funding to provide education in advanced manufacturing technologies at scale—it is a glaring gap in our current national manufacturing human capital strategy. It is one that institutes could help to fill with careful data and analysis of their practices and approaches. Workforce education, then, becomes a critical space for cross-institute interaction and cooperation since it is important to technology dissemination and implementation. For example, online education (including using new virtual and augmented reality tools and computer gaming approaches) could be developed by groups of institutes for sharing across their participating members. They could collaborate in preparing courses on the basics of advanced manufacturing skills. Each participating institute could then develop online courses that branch into engineering and technical skills education for that institute’s technology. Online platform technologies could be shared across institutes. Standardization of delivery platforms can lead to a common online course system accessible across institutes.
Study is needed to identify best EWD practices and approaches, including for online elements and study of mechanisms for how institutes could collaborate in developing an education “commons” of shared advanced manufacturing courses, modules, and materials. In addition, institutes likely will need to develop standards for transportable certificates in their advanced manufacturing fields, likely in cooperation with each other and perhaps with existing manufacturing skills standards groups such as the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council. Without such standards and certificates, spread of advanced technologies into the workforce, and therefore their implementation, will be limited. Study is needed on how best to achieve these standards and certification steps. Because workforce education tends to suffer from the “tragedy of the commons”—many want, but few want to fund—a funding model study is also needed.
Current Role and Expansion of Cross-Institute Networks
Since a number of advanced manufacturing tasks may require collaboration across institutes, study is needed of the current role and potential expansion of the network across the institutes.
As noted under the section on EWD above, collaboration across DoD Manufacturing USA institutes will likely be required for disseminating best advanced manufacturing workforce education practices, including development of courses and materials as well as formulating standards and certificates. A network across DoD Manufacturing USA institutes is also needed to develop programs for an institute’s company participants. This is critical if companies are to implement the “factory of the future” and incorporate a number of advanced manufacturing technologies in concert. As noted above, no firm will adopt just one new manufacturing technology. It will want to adopt a mix of relevant technologies (e.g., additive plus digital plus robotics plus composites, etc.). The network is needed to develop this cross-institute system. In other words, advanced manufacturing, including the EWD function behind it, inherently involves firms adopting a series of new technologies, not just one, so there is a critical network role. Also, systematic sharing of institute best practices in intellectual property (IP), membership organization, SME involvement, cost-share (including for SMEs and universities), sharing facilities and equipment across institutes, etc., is also inherently a network function, as is developing an advanced manufacturing strategy across institutes. The current DoD Manufacturing USA institutes and their supporting agencies have worked to create Manufacturing USA as a network. Study is required of how this network function is progressing, how it is performing the tasks it has taken on to date, how it accesses the broad range of U.S. government investments being made in relevant technical areas, and how it could assist in performing additional critical functions like those listed above.
Accelerating the Depth and Breadth of Technology Adoption Throughout Entire Supply Chains
How could DoD Manufacturing USA institutes be better equipped and enabled to bring industry supply chains into their institute demonstration facilities?
The manufacturing institutes generally have established “hands-on” and virtual demonstration and design facilities that are accessible to SMEs at the institutes. However, SME participation alone is not enough. To disseminate advanced production technologies, the institutes need to bring in actual “supply chains” in ad-
dition to individual SMEs. Unless the full group of participants in a supply chain adopts them, the technologies in many cases cannot be implemented. For example, adoption of digital production technologies requires full, connected supply chain participation. NIST’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership programs may be able to assist in convening supply chains, which could be a part of a study. In general, to further innovation acceleration more collaboration in implementation is needed. Study is required of the mechanisms and ways institutes can more systematically bring in supply chain groupings to take advantage of their hands-on facilities and capabilities.5 This study could also look at how knowledge feedback occurs in the production chain and how it is propagated.
What should the practice be for DoD Manufacturing USA institutes regarding international participation?
A basic goal of Manufacturing USA was to strengthen the American manufacturing innovation ecosystem and technologies. Currently, different DoD Manufacturing USA institutes have different practices regarding participation of international companies, including international firms with significant production employment and facilities in the states. Study is required to understand the existing institute practices, including what goals international engagement serves, while taking into consideration all of the differences there are regarding international companies: technologies in different stages of implementation as well as their particular presence in the United States and in U.S. supply chains. This type of study also has the opportunity to reflect on the different social contracts between the public and private sectors in those participating nations. Best institute practices regarding international participation need more development to better serve the DoD Manufacturing USA institutes. This is particularly relevant if the terms of institutes are to be extended. In addition, some institute directors indicated in our stakeholder input sessions that without continuing DoD funding support, many of their institutes will be required to be fully open to international company participation to obtain resources to function. This could obviously contradict a DoD goal for its institutes to buttress its industrial base. This potential problem further underscores the need for a study of this issue, including who should be the authority for the institutes on the issue of international engagement.
5 For an initial discussion of these issues, see S. Helper and T. Mahoney, 2017, “Next-Generation Supply Chains,” Mforesight, June, http://mforesight.org/projects-events/supply-chains/.
Strategic Assessment Process of Emerging International Advanced Production Capabilities
How could a strategic assessment process be developed for advanced production capabilities now emerging in other nations to better guide institutes and their technology focus areas?
A review is needed to propose a process for DoD entities and other relevant organizations to assess emerging advanced manufacturing capabilities in other nations to help inform DoD Manufacturing USA institute technology development agendas as well to inform about the implications of oncoming international capabilities to U.S. production. This study would not be the assessment itself, but an evaluation of the need for it, of what technology areas require assessment, and of the way such an ongoing assessment could best be organized and undertaken.
DoD initially became committed to the institutes because it needed to assure its future defense industrial base in an era of strong international technology development. If it wants to understand its industrial base capability, it needs a process to measure advances and developments in other nations compared to progress in the United States. It has been periodically pursuing an evaluation process to understand “where do its parts come from” to assure a domestic supply source. Arguably, while such an effort is useful, if an evaluation is reduced to this step alone, it may already be too late since having a prevalence of foreign parts indicates that the technology development capability is likely gone. Instead, DoD may need a more strategic capability assessment of other leading nations’ progress in advanced manufacturing fields where it has a significant stake in future technology. Study is needed of what such a strategic assessment process might examine and how and where it might be organized and conducted.
For example, DoD needs to look at new digital technologies entering production fields (artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things, robotics, simulations and modeling, data analytics, quantum, etc.) to understand where competitor nations are developing technology leadership and capacity. It also needs to understand and consider other “hard technology” areas developing in other nations in such institute topic areas as biofabrication, advanced materials, composites, photonics, functional fibers, power electronics, etc. If a study can inform the development of such an assessment process and advise on its organization, strategy, and funding model, it could also inform manufacturing institute technology development agendas and roadmapping, including getting the needed mix of institutes and technologies. This would have a corresponding benefit to the nation in guiding overall national manufacturing strategy and in realizing its investment in Manufacturing USA institutes.
The future of Manufacturing USA hinges upon the “unique value” that it brings to its stakeholders: government, industry, academia, and others. If it cannot fulfill its mission, Manufacturing USA will not be sustainable in the long run.
In this fast-track study, the committee has received valuable input (as stated in the above section). The study committee acknowledges that the breadth of the proposed topics may be more than a single committee can undertake in a single study. Thus, the committee recommends that DoD prioritize the topics for future well-coordinated follow-on studies such that each can be executed with a realistic scope and carried out in a reasonable length of time and budget. However, the first study recommended above concerning “Evaluation Criteria for DoD Manufacturing Innovation Institutes” was identified by the study committee as the most pressing topic, and it recommends that it be undertaken promptly on an accelerated basis.