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8/4/2020 | 2 MINUTE READ

AME Publishes White Paper with "Marshall Plan" for Post-Pandemic Manufacturing

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The white paper argues that reshoring or nearshoring, digitalization and increased workforce development measures will be necessary for manufacturing after the pandemic.

To help manufacturers successfully navigate the post-pandemic economy, the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) has released a white paper titled “A Manufacturing Marshall Plan.” The paper is intended to map out how companies can prevent post-pandemic supply chain disruptions, advance their manufacturing productivity and reskill their workforces. In the paper, AME advocates for reshoring, nearshoring and what it calls “leanshoring” together with an increased focus on Industry 4.0 innovations and enhanced educational and training offerings to create a stronger workforce. 

According to the white paper, the coronavirus pandemic is taxing the efficiency and cost benefits of a globalized supply chain system. It recommends that a switch to a more robust domestic supply chain and advanced manufacturing base could reduce the dependence on the increasingly fractured global supply system. Offshored supply chains cause long-distance transportation, increased communications obstacles, unpredictable delivery times resulting in the loss of manufacturing capacities and increased environmental pollution. Consequently, a trend known as reshoring or nearshoring — moving supply chain production to domestic or nearly domestic facilities — is gaining acceptance.

In response to current and future demands, and to avoid future supply chain disruptions and takeovers from global competitors, the white paper calls for a “supply chain renaissance.” To do this, manufacturers will have to implement new operational strategies and technologies, and the white paper discusses several resources for the establishment of these redeveloped domestic supply chains.

The establishment of these new domestic supply chains, however, means that manufacturers must increase productivity, efficiency, speed and quality to maintain competitiveness, all of which requires the digitalization of production, the white paper argues. Unfortunately, the process of digitalization creates additional demands for new skilled jobs.

As the current workforce undergoes generational changes precipitated by retiring workers, factories are evolving from the pre-automation plants of the past to the smart factories of the future, the paper says. Workers in smart factories require digital fluency, technological savviness and data analytics knowhow: skills that previous generations did not require and that future generations often lack, according to the white paper. The white paper states that the development of a skilled workforce begins with motivating a higher quantity and quality of recruits and that the demise of vocational education at the high school level has bred a skills shortage in manufacturing. To close the growing skills gap, groups of employers, community colleges, workforce agencies, intermediaries, youth programs, labor organizations, policy experts and others are advancing apprenticeship and work-based learning strategies as workforce development and talent solutions for American businesses.

As the manufacturing industry moves into its “new normal,” failure to reshore or nearshore manufacturing jobs, enhance industrial innovation and reskill the North American workforce leaves the continent susceptible to future supply chain disruptions and economic uncertainty, the white paper argues.