More than 250 representatives from industry, government, academia and professional societies gathered in person and online Nov. 7 in Washington, D.C., for Purdue University’s inaugural national summit focusing on resilience through excellence in manufacturing and operations.
Hosted by Purdue’s recently launched eXcellence in Manufacturing and Operations Purdue Engineering Initiative (XMO PEI) the summit had the goal of gathering a dynamic coalition of partners to discuss building resilient U.S. infrastructure for and with digital, physical and sustainable manufacturing and operations.
The summit, which was held at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, focused on three key pillars of America’s resilience in advanced manufacturing: reshoring (also called onshoring), retooling and retraining in manufacturing and operations (M&O).
XMO PEI leaders said particular emphasis is needed to establish a resilient American supply chain for such critical industrial sectors as defense and space, agriculture and foods, transportation and logistics, semiconductor and microelectronics and pharmaceuticals.
This initiative is aimed at overcoming the severe national challenges in the supply chain — for example, manufacturing for defense, semiconductor chips and microelectronics systems, food and agriculture and more — that have been exposed in recent decades by events such as 9/11, COVID-19 and the Ukraine war, which shined a light on major gaps in manufacturing and operations in making the American supply chain resilient.
“Any supply chain is only as good as its weakest link," said Ajay Malshe, the R. Eugene and Susie E. Goodson Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering and XMO co-chair. "We need all physical, digital, sustainable M&O tools and a skilled workforce to make those links strong and tough to deliver supply chain resilience when the next national and global crises challenge us.”
Summit discussions included why U.S. companies are compelled to bring major elements of their manufacturing back to the U.S.; how new major investments in physical, digital and sustainable technologies and their rapid translations by engineering and business are necessary to build resiliency; and what role the educational spectrum will take to develop a diverse and integrative workforce in support of a second U.S. manufacturing and operations renaissance.
“The U.S. is starting to make important moves toward building robust supply chains, but we need to be more focused on innovation and workforce development to achieve resiliency in manufacturing and operations that is digitally enabled and sustainable," said Stephan Biller, the Harold T. Amrine Distinguished Professor in the School of Industrial Engineering and Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, and XMO co-chair. "This is particularly true for small and medium manufacturers that typically lack a manufacturing and operations innovation exosystem.”
The summit resulted in a seven-point call to action:
- Form a national coalition at the intersection of M&O of industrial, government and academic organizations, along with professional societies.
- Integrate M&O by funding sponsors in every aspect of research, development and implementation.
- Enable large investments in physical, digital and sustainable M&O engineering for a resilient commerce and defense supply chain.
- Build an innovation ecosystem for small- and medium-sized manufacturers to enable them to digitalize their physical M&O assets to participate in the ongoing artificial intelligence revolution.
- Establish industrial policies and incentives for M&O to restore, retool and retrain and grow and sustain the number of startups.
- Invest in M&O’s physical, digital and sustainable infrastructure, similar (in scale) to the federal CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, for retooling rural and urban America for small-, mid- and large-size national enterprises and their ecosystem.
- Infuse M&O educational content in every academic program to create and retain workforces for all enterprises.