As the year draws to a close, we are taking time to appreciate recent accomplishments like new product launches, expansion, and continued hard work to empower the manufacturing workforce. And along the way, we are thankful for excellent partnerships, customers, and others in the manufacturing community with whom we’ve been working to provide better tools for people on the job today
In doing this, we realized just how many great organizations are chartered across the US to help manufacturers of all sizes grow and flourish. These mostly not for profit groups assist companies with services like process improvement, workforce development, technology consulting, and more. You may be unaware of these excellent and affordable resources available to you, so we thought we’d share our top 8:
Improve, Adapt, & Grow
As companies both large and small struggle to attract and retain talent while staying current on Industry 4.0 technology, the following organizations are helping manufacturers do more with their existing, valuable workforce.
1. Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Network
The MEP National Network™ is a unique public-private partnership that delivers comprehensive, proven solutions to U.S. manufacturers, fueling growth and advancing U.S. manufacturing. The network is located across the US and is organized differently by state. In close proximity to our Nashua, NH headquarters, we have two strong MEPs – MassMEP, with offices in Worcester, MA and the New Hampshire MEP, headquartered in Concord, NH.
2. The National Association of Manufacturing
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is an active and thriving community of US manufacturers. NAM works for the success of the more than 12.8 million men and women who make things in America. Their work is centered around four values that make US industry strong and America exceptional: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity and represent 14,000 member companies—from small businesses to global leaders—in every industrial sector.
Attract, Retain, & Train
Historically low unemployment rates mean companies must work harder than ever to both attract and retain talent. Here are a groups focused on helping manufacturers with this:
3. The Manufacturing Institute
The Manufacturing Institute, the NAM’s workforce and education partner, drives programs and research to promote modern manufacturing and jump start new approaches to growing manufacturing talent through a variety of programs designed to excite, educate and empower with a particular focus in four key areas: women, veterans, youth and lifelong learning. The Manufacturing Institute also serves as the leading authority on data and research for the industry through its Center for Manufacturing Research, which closely examines issues of importance to manufacturers to increase understanding and spotlight solutions.
Speaking of hiring exceptional people, we came across many initiatives to connect talented, motivated people with companies ready to bring them in. Here’s one we found particularly noteworthy:
4. Hiring Our Heroes
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative launched in March 2011 as a nationwide effort to connect veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses with meaningful employment opportunities. Working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s vast network of state and local chambers and strategic partners from the public, private, and non-profit sectors, their goal is to create a movement across America in hundreds of communities where veterans and military families return every day.
Robotics & Automation
As robotics and automation become increasingly important for manufacturers and distributors, more organizations are working to support both the robotics community as well as industries seeking to adopt this advancing technology. One such relatively new public-private partnership, headquartered in Pittsburgh, is doing just this and more:
5. Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM)
Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) is the nation’s leading collaborative in robotics and workforce innovation. Structured as a public-private partnership, they accelerate the advancement of transformative robotic technologies and education to increase U.S. global manufacturing competitiveness.
ARM is a national membership-based consortium focused on spurring innovations in not just robotics technology, but also workforce development, ensuring the future is built by robots, but directed by humans. ARM and its members seek to lower economic, technical, and operational barriers, allowing enterprises of all sizes to adopt robotic technologies.
As a new member, Waypoint recently attended ARM’s annual member meeting to connect with the community, obtain insight into recent success, and learn about initiatives for 2020 and beyond.
6. Manufacturing USA
ARM is a member of Manufacturing USA, a network of 14 national manufacturing institutes. Each institute is a unique public-private partnership, jointly funded by government and private industry, focused on a different advanced manufacturing technology area but working toward the same high-level goal: to secure America’s future through manufacturing innovation, education, and collaboration. The Institutes connect member organizations, work on major research and development collaboration projects to solve industry’s toughest challenges, and train people on advanced manufacturing skills.
7. The Robotic Industries Association (RIA)
One of the leading robotics resources that leads the way is Robotics Industries Association (RIA). The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) drives innovation, growth, and safety in manufacturing and service industries through education, promotion, and advancement of robotics, related automation technologies, and companies delivering integrated solutions.
Founded in 1974, RIA is part of the umbrella Association for Advancing Automation (A3) and is the only trade group in North America organized specifically to serve the robotics industry. Member companies include leading robot manufacturers, users, system integrators, component suppliers, research groups, and consulting firms. Its robust online platform: Robotics Online provides information to help engineers, managers and executives apply and justify robotics and flexible automation. The site includes a Buyer’s Guide, industry insights, daily news updates, case studies, technical papers, event calendar, job openings, an “Ask the Experts” forum, and webinars.
We believe these mostly free resources to be quite valuable for companies interested in automation and often contribute where we can. For example, Waypoint CEO, Jason Walker provided his expertise for a recent webinar titled: “Anatomy of a Robot” (click for info to download webinar).
Finally, one of the many great aspects of being located in New England is the exceptionally strong robotics community. We not only have great universities, excellent community colleges, and world class trade schools, we also have MassRobotics.
MassRobotics is an independent, non-profit organization serving as the innovation hub for robotics and connected devices. Through programming and events, they help bring together innovative startups and existing technology organizations to nurture the next generation of talent, and promote economic growth and innovation. An important part of their charter is to assist companies of all sizes navigate the many options and opportunities that robotics offers to transform organizations’ operations and supply chain.
Please reach out with questions or for a personal introduction to any of these great organizations. And if you are interested in better tools for your workforce, contact us for information on Vector and MAV3K, the easiest to set up and use Autonomous Mobile Robots available on the market today.
Have a happy, safe, and prosperous year ahead!