PALMETTO BLUFF, SC — The divide between Fortune 500 companies with deep pockets and small to mid-size companies when it comes to the adoption of smart manufacturing is holding back the productivity of the US manufacturing sector, argued John Dyck, chief executive officer of CESMII—The Smart Manufacturing Institute, at BEMA’s annual convention, held June 20-25. 

“Seventy-four percent of US manufacturing companies have less than 20 employees, which underscores the urgency for value creation of smart manufacturing. We have to make smart manufacturing more accessible for companies of all sizes,” he said. 

Mr. Dyck pointed out that, according to Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED), the US manufacturing sector had enjoyed years of increased productivity among employees until 2010, about the same time that talk of a fourth industrial revolution. At that time, productivity among manufacturing employees stagnated for five years before beginning to decline most recently. 

“We need a more productive manufacturing environment,” he said. “It’s important that we invest in manufacturing, working through the challenges to understand what happened and why that productivity began declining.”

Smart manufacturing collects and analyzes data across a manufacturing process to find and resolve inefficiencies, helping manufacturing facilities to reach new levels of efficiency.

The process of collecting and analyzing that data, however, takes an investment and understanding that small and mid-size companies can be hesitant to make.

Despite the well-documented return on investment smart manufacturing offers, Mr. Dyck noted that the United States has been slow to adopt these strategies and not adopting them in an effective way.

CESMII is a non-profit group that aims to make smart manufacturing more accessible to all manufacturing companies in the United States and streamline data collection, eliminating redundancies.

Today, the way US manufacturing companies often collect data, that information is siloed and duplicated again, resulting in redundancies. This also creates more work for original equipment manufacturers. Mr. Dyck, however, sees this as an opportunity to streamline data collection and analysis. 

“The replication of infrastructure represents extraordinary cost, complexity and risk; that’s the piece that we believe holds out hope that we can reduce the cost of smart manufacturing and create value,” he said.