At MForesight Summit, Visions of the Factories of the Future

By Megan Salrin
Jul 28 2017 |
Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) addresses the MForesight summit. | MForesight

Manufacturing advocates discuss issues facing American industry.

MForesight, a federally funded consortium focused on improving the performance of the U.S. manufacturing sector, held its annual summit this week.

The gathering convened manufacturing experts, business leaders, and members of Congress to discuss America’s factories of the future – and a lot of interesting ideas were passed around.

Among the speakers convened were Harry Moser, a manufacturing expert and founder of the Reshoring Initiative; Justin Fishkin, a business leader and chief strategist of Local Motors; and Rep. Tom Reed, (R-NY).

The insights from three different perspectives – an activist, a manufacturer, and a public official – offered a glimpse into what the manufacturing sector will look like in the near future, and what will be necessary to bring more manufacturing activity back to the United States. 

The Reshoring Initiative’s Moser described his organization’s Total Cost of Ownership Comparison Calculator, which he said offers companies the ability to see how location effects competitiveness. Studies have proven that 53 percent of the companies that use the TCO Calculator have a competitive advantage if they manufacture in the United States, Moser said.

Moser also noted that companies often only look at financial costs when deciding where to locate their production, which he argued is not their total cost of ownership. That figure is more significant, he said, because it includes financial and social cost. So one of the biggest problems that the initiative faces, Moser said, is connecting its tool with companies. You can find it here.

Fishkin of Local Motors talked specifically about the advanced technology his company uses. Local Motors, Fishkin explained, is a technology company that has decentralized the development, production, and commercialization of vehicles. The company has produced the world’s first 3D-printed car. 

Local Motors works around what it considers an outdated supply chain model by “micro-manufacturing,” which Fishkin argued is faster and involves less capital than a more traditional route. Fishkin said that Local Motors can complete the production of a customized vehicle within 29 hours — “17 hours to print and 12 hours to assemble.”

Rep. Reed, meanwhile, discussed the need on a local level to change the narrative of the manufacturing industry. He said our education system – like high schools – should better understand that manufacturing is a worthy career path for students soon to enter the workforce. 

When asked about programs like Manufacturing USA need, Rep. Reed said, “Robust support, working on funding. It is a vibrant part of manufacturing initiatives moving forward.” He also stated that manufacturing is fertile ground for bipartisan political work. We agree!

The summit provided an informative glance into the future of pro-manufacturing advocacy. By addressing offshoring, introducing new technology and systems, and change the narrative, we can help manufacturing continue to recover.