Drawing a U.S. Manufacturing-Competitiveness RoadmapJanuary 1, 2015
In mid-2014, the Edison Welding Institute (EWI) and its EWI Forming Center launched one of the most important forward-looking projects of relevance to our industry in years. Under the direction of a NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) federally funded project, part of its AMTech program, EWI formed a consortium of forming and joining associations to develop the first comprehensive U.S. advanced joining and forming technology roadmap. Among those involved: the American Welding Society, the Ohio State University Center for Precision Forming, the Precision Metalforming Association, the Forging Industry Association and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.
The project’s goal: Identify and prioritize technology-development needs, and recommend a portfolio of research and development projects to address those needs.
Per the NIST project brief: “Demand is driven by a variety of forces, from the introduction of new materials to the transition to more agile manufacturing operations.”
I’m proud to sit on the steering committee tasked with overseeing the forming-technology portion of the project. We held our first full-blown focus-group meeting at FABTECH last November. Additional focus-group meetings will be held over the next several months, to capture and rank technology needs, develop and prioritize research topics, and ultimately produce the roadmap. Later this year we’ll hold a national conference to review the results of our findings and present the roadmap.
Our 4-hr. kickoff meeting featured discussions with 22 attendees from various segments of the metalforming industry, on these topics:
• Technical Gaps in the U.S. Sheet Metal Forming Industry—Much of the conversation focused on the need for continued development of sensor and control technology.
• Workforce Development—We talked plenty about developing new training systems and training tools to meet evolving skill needs.
• Business Sustainability in the U.S. Sheet Metal Forming Industry.
Much of what we discussed was based on an industry survey meant to uncover our industry’s key issues and technology gaps. The survey (www.surveymonkey.com/s/GGDF98Y) is still active, and I ask that you please take a few minutes to complete it. It comprises only nine multiple-choice questions, asking for information such as: