Manufacturing Enterprise Innovation
The Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute (GTMI) is a global leader in manufacturing enterprise innovation. GTMI takes a 2-pronged approach to addressing manufacturing enterprise innovation challenges by: (1) developing and advocates concurrent maturations of technology, manufacturing, business case and ecosystem innovations, i.e., TRL, MRL, BcRL and EcRL and (2) working closely with regional and national partners in assisting companies of all sizes to be globally competitive through rapid and selective adoption of technology and business practices.
Policymakers and politicians are increasingly aware that a robust manufacturing sector is integral to the National defense, public health, and economic security, sustainability, and resilience. By making use of innovative processes to accelerate the rate at which new technologies are commercialized, the ability to strengthen global manufacturing competitiveness can be greatly enhanced. GTMI advocates an innovative strategy, xRL, to accelerate and mitigate the risks of this process. The xRL strategy addresses readiness levels across multiple aspects of technology, both the manufacturing and business case, and supports the “Discover here - accelerate Translation - Build here (DTB)” manufacturing ecosystem model. The DTB manufacturing ecosystem model focuses on the concurrent maturation of xRL – TRL (technology readiness level), MRL (manufacturing readiness level), BcRL (business case readiness level) and ERL (ecosystem readiness level).
At the national level, there are two significant challenges to moving innovation into production. The first is a question of effectiveness and efficiency of innovation. Many analysts have pointed to the need to increase the speed and mitigate the risk of innovation and specifically the time it takes to turn research results into innovative products. Today's research translation takes too long, costs too much and the results are too uncertain. The second challenge is a question of geography, i.e., location of manufacturing. Policy makers are increasingly convinced that what is invented in place should be produced in that place in order to enjoy the benefits of technology investment. The DTB manufacturing ecosystem model accepts the premise that innovating and producing in place is a vital component of economic and national security policy for industrialized countries with the intent of being globally competitive.
Recent economically and societally disruptive events have revealed at least two major issues with many of the manufacturing supply chains that provide goods to the U.S. domestic market. First, a significant percentage of the products produced by industries critical to the defense, public health, and economic security of the Nation are at least partially manufactured offshore. Second, the domestic industrial base capacity for many of these critical industries is insufficient to compensate for any reduction of foreign sourced raw materials, work in progress, or final products. As a result, many of the Nation’s critical industries are vulnerable to foreign countries intentionally withholding these goods in times of crises. A key interest of GTMI is to contribute to the Nation’s industrial base for critical industries to ensure that this base is sufficiently robust so that the Nation can be independent of potential adversarial countries during crises yet efficient enough to ensure the Nation’s industrial base is globally competitive.
A 2015 article published in the Handbook of Manufacturing Industries in the World Economy journal, titled “Engineering and Manufacturing: Concurrent Maturation of xRL” by B. Wang, W. Kessler and A. Dugenske, provides a detailed description of the xRL DTB manufacturing ecosystem model and what it matters in manufacturing policy debate and discussion.
The following are some valuable resources available to manufacturing enterprises for technical assistance, business insights and partnerships.
Manufacturing USA, (https://www.manufacturingusa.com). Manufacturing USA® comprises 16 public-private institutes and their federal sponsoring agencies - U.S. Departments of Commerce, Defense, and Energy – as well as 2,000+ member organizations representing manufacturers of all sizes, academia, and other entities. Each institute focuses on a different advanced manufacturing technology area but works toward the same high-level goal: to secure America's future through manufacturing innovation, education, and collaboration. Institutes connect member organizations, work on major research and development collaboration projects to solve industry's toughest challenges, and train people on advanced manufacturing skills.
Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, GaMEP, (https://gamep.org/about-us/). Works with more than 1,000 manufacturing enterprises each year to implement on-site projects, conduct training, and connect manufacturers to Georgia Tech resources and partners throughout the State of Georgia.
Georgia Manufacturer Survey, (http://stip.gatech.edu/georgia-manufacturing-survey/), is a statewide study conducted by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute and the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy, along with valued partners, to assess the business and technological conditions of Georgia’s manufacturers.