SME Supports Manufacturing Innovation 2012
By Joseph J. LaRussa, PE
SME Director of Membership
SME members from across the United States traveled to Orlando, FL, for Manufacturing Innovations 2012, an annual event hosted by the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). In all, more than 800 attendees from industry and government came together to make a measurable impact on U.S. manufacturing.
The MEP is housed within the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Its purpose is to work with small and mid-sized U.S. manufacturers to help them create and retain jobs, increase profits, and increase productivity. As a public/private partnership, MEP delivers a high return on investment. For every dollar of federal investment, the MEP generates about $30 in new sales growth (or $3.6B in new sales annually), and every $1,570 of federal investment creates or retains one manufacturing job in the US.
The event featured a number of keynotes, including TV star John Ratzenberger of “Cheers” fame and more recently his Travel Channel Show “Made in America”. He gave a powerful message about the need for a strong manufacturing industry to enable a strong U.S. economy. In keeping with the Made in America theme, a myriad of products made in the USA were prominently displayed in the registration area. Ratzenberger spent some time there mingling with attendees and MEP staff to reinforce his message.
SME has been a supporter of the event and the MEP network for a number of years, primarily because they share a mission to support small and medium sized manufacturers. This year, SME was highly engaged in Manufacturing Innovations 2012. SME Members and staff delivered almost half of the conference sessions at the event, and SME hosted an industry panel addressing innovation and business development for the benefit of the attendees. Many of the members commented on the natural synergy between MEP and SME, and the value of the partnership between the two organizations. Roger Kilmer, Director of the MEP program for NIST, said that “having SME as a partner for Manufacturing Innovations 2012 really helps us to deliver the voice of the industry to ensure the MEP network is maximizing value for the industry.”
SME also attended the onsite meeting of the MEP National Advisory Board, on which several SME members serve. The Board addressed a number of strategic issues for manufacturing in the US, including workforce readiness and development. Dennis Dotson, incoming Chair of the MEP National Advisory Board and an SME member, said “SME’s engagement in the national conversation around manufacturing is essential, and the society’s partnership in Manufacturing Innovations 2012 is a clear sign of its commitment to a healthy industry”.
SME plans to continue its support of the MEP, and members who are part of small and medium-sized manufacturing companies can find their local MEP center alongside SME chapters in various states by visiting sme.org/chapters and selecting the state where your business resides. SME will also be a partner for Manufacturing Innovations 2013, currently planned for April 27 - May 1, once again in Orlando, Florida.
For more photos from Manufacturing Innovations 2012, see this photo gallery on flickr.