AFEI Chairman's Message
Next Generation Manufacturing Technologies - Will the
US be a player?
May 2003 - The continued role of the US as a world
leader relies heavily on the capabilities of the defense industrial
base and the effective use of advanced technology
to maintain and accelerate productivity and performance growth. However,
the percentage of R&D investment from DoD and defense industry in manufacturing
science and technology has steadily declined. In addition, defense industrial
leaders have migrated to a role of final assembly, with increased reliance
on offshore suppliers. This is leading to a loss of technical leadership
in manufacturing knowledge, skills, and capabilities.
As more and more manufacturing capability moves offshore, specifically
to the Pacific Rim, the US industrial base is weakened. Also, a
new threat to the manufacturing base is emerging; that is, the
migration of important manufacturing research and development to
other countries. Some foreign governments are starting to mandate
that companies locate their R&D efforts in their country as
a requirement to establish a manufacturing operation. If this threat
materializes in a substantial way, we could be looking at the “beginning
of the end” of manufacturing in the United States.
It is imperative that the transformation of the defense industrial
base begins and proceeds hand-in-hand with the DoD. The US needs
to take the offense and undertake a major research agenda to advance
important DoD goals, such as accelerating the development of new
industries; reducing the cost of new military and space systems;
and improving the efficiency and reliability of the national manufacturing
infrastructure. Absent a significant national initiative to address
our next generation manufacturing technologies, the United States
will not be a player in the future.
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