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05.8.2012
50 mins
ILP Video

Will Our Consumer Goods Always Be Manufactured By Hand?

Rodney Brooks
Panasonic Professor of Robotics Emeritus, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

Joel Jacobs
Marc Overhage
Karl Pessinis
Anurag Srivastava
Recent economics have dictated that our lowest-cost goods for mass consumption are, literally, largely made by hand in developing economies. The primary locations of that hand labor have been on the move for sixty years as economic development fueled by manufacturing has lead to the labor pricing itself out of the low end manufacturing market. In 1961 robots came to the rescue of manufacturing labor costs in the United States. Or so it seemed at first, when a GM factory in New Jersey was the site of the first installation of industrial robots. Their task was to help build automobiles. But two unexpected things happened. The ideas and early companies involved in the technology had all started out in the United States, but over time, through competition and acquisition the robot industry moved to Japan and Europe and the distribution channels became stultified. But worse, the players all started competing on precision and repeatability, rather than ease of use and flexibility. When sensors and computation became cheap enough to be incorporated into industrial robots they were applied to competition in the former criteria, rather than the green new fields of the latter.

Thus far, robots in manufacturing have turned out to be very capital intensive, hard to use, dangerous to be around, and of very little use to either small, flexible, or low-volume manufacturers. Meanwhile non-industrial robots which were developed later in time for fresh markets in the military, fulfillment centers, floor cleaning, and in medical fields, have the reverse of those characteristics. They are low cost, easy for people to use, safe, and have found favor in homes and small companies. These new robots capitalize on advances in IT, sensors, and intelligent algorithms.

The pressures for responsive short supply chains, for keeping innovation close to manufacturing, for protection of intellectual property, for battling high oil costs in transporting finished goods, and for protecting the US balance of trade, all provide opportunities for those same advances to be applied to manufacturing and replace the by-hand methods that can never again be economic in the US. There is a reboot of how robots and smart machines can be used in industrial settings, with the potential to change the economics of manufacturing worldwide and to again change the loci of manufacturing. There are many small companies working on a large variety of ideas in technologies and channels to market. It feels a lot like the early days of the transition from mainframes to personal computers.

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05.8.2012
58 mins
ILP Video

Panel Discussion: "Challenges and Opportunities in Manufacturing"

Daron Acemoglu (Moderator), James Breen, David Hardt, Narendra Mulani, William Ruh
The panel will lead off the conference with a view of the overall context for manufacturing in the U.S. and trends that will shape it over the coming years. What are American structural conditions that may support or hinder manufacturing located in the U. S.?and is a Federal ?manufacturing policy? needed to revitalize the sector? Panelists will discuss policy issues including taxation, environmental regulation, education at all levels, and infrastructure planning. The group will also discuss broad industry and economic trends that impact manufacturing, such as supply chain complexity and disruptions, offshoring/onshoring, regional manufacturing strategies, energy pricing, trade regulations, currency interventions, and the rise of emerging market economies.
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05.8.2012
43 mins
ILP Video

Production in the Innovation Economy (PIE): A new MIT study on the current state and future of U.S. manufacturing

Olivier de Weck
Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems
Since 2011 MIT has embarked on a major new study on the current state and future of U.S. Manufacturing and its relationship to Innovation. The Production in the Innovation Economy (PIE) project brings together leading MIT faculty from a variety of disciplines ? economics, engineering, political science, management, biology, and others ? to look at U.S. industry from different perspectives: national, sectoral, and global. The study's overarching goal is to shed light on how America's great strengths in innovation can be scaled up into new productive capabilities. Among key issues the study is currently examining are the U.S. innovation capacity and production capabilities, including the experience of entrepreneurial firms and how their capacities compare to those emerging in other countries, including high-wage/high-cost economies such as Germany and Japan, as well as emerging economies such as China and India. New paradigms of production that will speed up the passage from laboratory to market, including bringing low-volume but high-value products to market, integrating early stage production with R&D, and deeply integrating services and production. This talk will present some preliminary findings from PIE and focus on examples of successful manufacturing models in the U.S. based on over 120 company interviews to date. These models include the scale-up of entrepreneurial firms, the ability of small-to-mid-size firms to customize rapidly and offer unique product-service bundles, the highly efficient automated production of bulk products close to the point of consumption and the ability of U.S. states to attract new foreign-owned manufacturing. The message is a mixed one. U.S. manufacturing is clearly in crisis, but there is hope in the form of new innovations - many emerging from research universities - and the creation of a more favorable business climate for manufacturers.
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05.8.2012
38 mins
ILP Video

Transforming through the Challenges in Large Commercial Aerospace

Jeffrey Turner
President and Chief Executive Officer
Spirit AeroSystems, Inc.
The current environment presents substantial challenges to U.S.-based, labor-intensive manufacturing, yet Aerospace is a significant contributor to the national economy and has the highest positive trade balance of any U.S. manufacturing sector. Spirit AeroSystems, the world's largest non-OEM designer and manufacturer of aerostructures for commercial aircraft, continues to transform itself and profitably grow the business. Challenges include historic production rate increases by the OEMs, consolidation in the supply base, and tightened global competition. Mr. Turner's talk will address the transformations that Spirit is undergoing in order to meet these challenges, which include a heightened emphasis on lean efficiencies and growing a diversified customer base, to developing innovative technology, products and manufacturing processes, and signing long-term labor contracts.
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05.8.2012
39 mins
ILP Video

Global Manufacturing: Challenges, Opportunities and Impact for the U.S.

Diana Tremblay
Global Chief Manufacturing Officer, General Motors
Within the context of an intensely competitive auto industry and General Motors? turnaround, this presentation will address what it takes to win in the global marketplace. The discussion will highlight U.S. manufacturing fundamentals for success including capacity planning, flexibility, quality, supplier relationships, and people engagement. These topics and more come to life through a case study featuring GM's Lake Orion Assembly Plant which produces two of the company's hot new small cars - the Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano.
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