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Yes, it is easy to get caught up in the “horse race”—the parade of candidates and the breathless punditry. But corporate lobbyists stay busy for a reason: They’re working the angles among the legislators, staffers and committee members who make many of the most important, impactful decisions. Organizations that don’t get involved at the nuts-and-bolts level of policymaking may blow their best chances for advancing their interests. 

It doesn’t take “House of Cards” ruthlessness to get on lawmakers’ agenda. In fact, politicians at all levels actually seem interested in hearing from their constituents. But to get heard, it is important to review and refine corporate strategies and messaging. Tactics that worked decades ago often fall flat in this Internet era of crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, digital footprints and aggregated data. 

Information overload is more prevalent than ever in today’s manufacturing industry. According to Adrian Ott in her book, “The 24-Hour Customer,” people see more than 34 billion pieces of information (the equivalent of two books) every day. And, with the wide adoption of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, executives and other decision-makers involved in managing the supply chain can drown in emails, work-related conversations and numerous key performance indicators (KPIs). The good news is: there are solutions. Newer approaches to managing information, such as shallow-dive analytics, indirect KPIs and real-time KPIs can help companies manage the fire hose of information and bring more insight to business decisions. These new approaches do not reduce the amount of information. Rather, they focus business teams on providing the right insights for optimal decision-making.

WESTEC, a major West Coast manufacturing event, is readying its programming for 2015, and part of it will be a keynote on the power of manufacturing in Hollywood. Jason Lopes of Legacy Effects will discuss how manufacturing – specifically additive manufacturing/3-D printing – is changing the face of special effects in the film industry.

Lopes is a lead systems engineer at Legacy Effects, home to some of Hollywood’s most talented effects professionals and makeup artists. For his keynote, “3-D Printing for Hollywood,” Lopes will discuss additive manufacturing and how it is impacting some of the industry’s biggest effects for movies like Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jurassic World, Terminator Genesys, Iron Man 3, Hunger Games, Pacific Rim, Twilight: Breaking Dawn and others.

University electrical engineering design projects from across North America provided a glimpse into the future through the annual Texas Instruments (TI) Innovation Challenge North America Design Contest award ceremony held in July.

Drawing upon TI technology, winning projects from the 2015 design contest included advanced solutions that will change how the physically disabled create music; how the hearing impaired communicate with others; and how unmanned search and rescue missions are carried out.

Troy Bryant and Sean Lyons from the University of Florida were named the overall winners for their project, Seven Deadly Synths: A non-contact synthesizer. Inspired by the early analog synthesizers of the 1960s and 70s, Bryant and Lyons sought to create a musical device that could be operated without advanced motor skills. Featuring a complete design based on TI technology, from power management to a microcontroller (MCU) to signal chain, the team created a synthesizer instrument that can be used by musicians of all skill levels. The device specifically allows disabled musicians to create sounds using simple movements, like the wave of a hand.

After many months of evaluation, the National Photonics Initiative (NPI) selected SUNY Polytechnic Institute and other members of the New York consortium as the country’s first Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IP-IMI).

Proposed as part of President Obama’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), the IP-IMI was established to bring government, industry and academia together to advance state-of-the-art photonics technology and better position the United States relative to global competition in this critical field.

SUNY Polytechnic Institute was joined by University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology and a regional cluster of photonics businesses to submit the proposal that was selected from among three finalists. The Department of Defense (DOD) has committed to investing $110 million in the IP-IMI. The other two finalists were University of Central Florida and University of Southern California.

The national manufacturing industry has taken a major impact in the past several years, as a result of the recent recession and global competition. But many areas of the country still have a lot to offer the industry, and as the economy gains strength, more regions are showing that they are still in the game. One example is the Regional Growth Partnership (RGP) in northwest Ohio.

“We want to showcase the manufacturing revival in our region,” says John Gibney, vice president of marketing and communications. “Manufacturing is still very much a part of who we are, and there are companies her that help this region move forward with capital investments and hiring.”

It’s taken about 20 years for the RGP to become what it is today, but now it is a major resource for the area. “Twenty years ago, there was no organization that did regional economic development,” says Dean Monske, president and CEO. “Back then, we did have a strong chamber of commerce in Toledo and a strong port authority, but no one was really dedicated to doing this kind of work 24/7.”

Chevrolet has put its secondary use battery technology in the record books by setting a Guinness World Records for the most people generating electricity in one week at the TORONTO 2015 Pan American Games.

During the games in July, participants at the Chevrolet Power of Play exhibit in CIBC Pan Am Park raced family and friends head-to-head on a 1,038-foot competitive marathon slot car track, powered by secondary-use Chevrolet Volt batteries. Participants controlled the speed of the cars and charged the batteries by riding on six stationary bicycles, generating electricity with their own pedal power.

A total of 4,739 people generated more than 13,000 electrical watt-hours of electricity over the course of the week. To put the record in context, that amount of energy could power a Chevrolet Volt to drive nearly 40 miles.

It’s easy to imagine that the sound of robots gearing up for action in the Transformers movies is quite similar to the noise and excitement that surrounds FABTECH, which is coming to Chicago in November.

North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event, FABTECH 2015 is expected to cover more than 550,000 net square feet and anticipates more than 40,000 attendees and 1,500 exhibiting companies this year. The event will focus on the latest industry products and developments, as well as offer tools to improve productivity, increase profits and discover new solutions to all of the industry’s metal-forming, fabricating, welding and finishing needs.

In addition, the FABTECH Education Program will be held alongside the show in Chicago, from November 9-12. Offering more than 100 sessions to enhance manufacturing careers and businesses, the education program allows attendees to network with peers, learn from top industry experts, exchange best practices and explore the latest technology and advancements in the industry.

Check out our latest Edition!

 

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