What is innovation? Well, as I learned from listening to Doug Woods—President of The Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT) (amtonline.org) at the AMBA Fall Conference (amba.org) last month in Washington DC—it is:
- Transforming the resources of an enterprise through the creativity of people into new resources and wealth.
- Putting your current processes and products together to do something innovative; not necessarily something “new”.
- Taking something that exists and aligning it with the market’s needs; customer-focused innovations.
Something a moldmaker does everyday if he adapts to today’s changing technology. Technology that can transform the business, allowing you to be innovative—creating wealth.
But innovation costs. It was noted that Best in Class businesses invest more than 5 percent in R&D annually; more than 5 percent in new equipment annually on a 30-year average; and, offer more than 40 hours of formal training annually per employee. So, in order to become innovative to create wealth in this global economy, mold manufacturers need to identify the challenges facing them and then find the solutions.
AMT has begun that effort by developing “The Manufacturing Mandate”.
A federal policy of collaboration between government, industry and academia that identifies six main initiatives, which contain several action items:
- Incentivize innovation and R&D in new products and manufacturing technologies
- Assure availability of capital
- Improve global competitiveness
- Minimize structural cost burdens
- Enhance collaboration between government, academia and industry
- Build a better educated and trained “smartforce”
This mandate emphasizes the need for a national policy that supports and encourages innovation, which will drive wealth creation—rebuilding and revitalizing our manufacturing sector.
Following the AMT’s lead, the AMBA identified six critical issues to address directly with Senators and Representatives for their Fall Conference Agenda: 1. Education/training to fill technical manufacturing jobs 2. Competition from low-cost labor countries 3. Trade imbalance and deficit 4. Rising healthcare costs 5. Taxation 6. Access to credit.
Regardless of the impact of the meetings, moldmaking is where manufacturing begins, so our efforts are essential to revitalizing our manufacturing base that will only lead to innovation and wealth creation! On that note, page 8 offers some “advice” to our new Congress while the article on page 14 profiles Le Bac Plastic Mold—a moldmaker who believes that when continuous true innovation is the key, doing it enthusiastically is of vital importance. Lastly, check out the start of the 2011 Leadtime Leader Awards campaign on page 44, through which we recognize moldmaking excellence in innovation, efficiency, quality and commitment.