Approximately 98% of U.S. manufacturers are considered small-to-medium (SMEs) and comprise a complex supply chain network that is the backbone of all domestic manufacturing – including support for the defense aerospace segment. Declining manufacturing competitiveness, especially within this sector, is a national challenge impacting both America’s security and economic infrastructure.
The rapid digitization of manufacturing has exposed potentially significant vulnerabilities among SMEs. As smart manufacturing technologies become more integrated into the U.S. industrial base, SMEs face a growing digital divide and increased urgency to adapt within an evolving technological landscape.
“SMEs lag in their adoption of smart manufacturing technologies and the skilled personnel needed to enable this digital transformation,” said Dr. Darrell Wallace, deputy director and chief technology officer at the SecureAmerica Institute (SAI). “Without a pull from the largest segment of the manufacturing base, workforce education and training providers are also slow to develop a workforce pipeline that is well prepared to meet the needs of next-generation smart manufacturing.”
The manufacturing skills gap was outlined as a significant national challenge in the Reagan Institute’s Renaissance Report as manufacturers across the country struggle to fill critical positions. According to the report, industry surveys consistently highlight this gap as a top cause of manufacturing decline.
“Our nation’s SMEs are particularly vulnerable when the workforce pipeline fluctuates relative to changing demand driven by a plethora of evolving economic considerations,” said Rob Gorham, SAI’s executive director. “Leveraging smart manufacturing technologies has the potential to augment workforce gaps and empower people to thrive.”
“The industry must explore how automation and smart manufacturing technologies can increase manufacturing productivity to retain and grow job opportunities for domestic suppliers, particularly those in the critical small manufacturer community,” Wallace said. “The SecureAmerica Institute is facilitating conversations among key stakeholders, including SMEs, to partner with small manufacturers and ensure they remain competitive in the domestic defense manufacturing supply chain.”
As part of these efforts, SAI will convene members of the Texas Defense Aerospace Manufacturing Community to explore strategic challenges facing the future of defense and aerospace manufacturing in Texas. The event, called the Texas Manufacturing Renaissance, will take place in Fort Worth on May 9, 2022.
“More than 52,000 small manufacturers are part of the greater Texas manufacturing enterprise,“ Wallace said. “We look forward to discussing how smart manufacturing impacts the future of the Texas industry as well as hearing from leading aerospace and defense manufacturing companies who can share valuable insights with SMEs in their journey toward digital transformation.”
Join the SecureAmerica Institute and our Texas Defense Aerospace Manufacturing Community at the Texas Manufacturing Renaissance on May 9, 2022. Learn more about the event and register today.