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What is the latest research, development, and innovation in manufacturing?

The manufacturing sector of the U.S. market is under a lot of pressure to be continually above the curve when it comes to innovative new ideas.As a result a great deal of time and resources are spent for manufacturing research and development.For many research and development is such an undertaking, that portions of this task are outsourced.In fact, in 2006 it was estimated that 15% of manufacturing companies sought outside help for their idea development.
In America manufacturing plants are being recognized for their strides in energy efficiency.In fact, in 2006, 17 manufacturing plants received the EPA's Energy Star award.The Energy Star award is given in recognition of energy-efficient operations.In this case, it was estimated that their efforts prevented approximately 3 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions than that previous year.

In addition to the benefits that these energy efficiency innovations brought to the country, rates of energy consumption were also lowered meaning that there was a natural reduction in operating costs of the manufacturing firms as well.Everyone involved say a benefit.Other recent manufacturing innovations include those that Ford Motor Companies have adopted.

New flexible manufacturing techniques allow Ford to develop their manufacturing line to the point that they are able to build multiple models on unique platforms.This in turn enables the plant to "change the mix."In other words, volume and options of products can be altered more quickly in response to consumer demand.New manufacturing innovations allows Ford to achieve a new niche in the market place and to eliminate what were previously lengthy processes that required expensive alteration processes to maintain.

Research and development for this manufacturing feat was no small matter.Ford's investment translated into approximately a $1 billion dollar advance in technology as well as learning for Ford's six other North American plant facilities.

Wireless technology was installed on delivery trucks to allow for monitoring and improvement of efficiency.Freight and inventory carrying costs were reduced and an advanced vision system in the form of artificial intelligence was used to review body and floor panel dimensions.Training, programs, electronics, and optimization of each component of the entire system lead to such impressive innovations for Ford's products.

As a result of the research and development, we see a great deal of innovation in manufacturing from this example.To improve efficiencies, self-contained work stations were developed more accurately.Robots within cells were programmed to standardize more than 300 components which drastically increased the efficiency of the overall process. Variation in work flow was minimized, creating more predictable results and a corresponding growth in sales.

The United States is not alone in its ability to enjoy recent strides in areas of manufacturing.Manufacturing has global competition and recent news releases have attributed Canada and even Switzerland with manufacturing progress that is certainly worthwhile.

In response to past years of poor performance in the manufacturing sector, the U.S. government has also stepped in to help in areas of research and development in order to aid the increase in innovations.American manufacturers have been aided by government programs that are able to make healthcare costs more affordable, reduce the lawsuit burden on the economy, ensure an affordable, reliable energy supply, streamline regulations and reporting requirements, open markets for American products, and to enable families and businesses to plan for the future with confidence.

With so many experienced and talented manufacturers and with the safeguards of government policies, prospects are good that research, development and innovation in manufacturing will continue to yield beneficial results for all who are involved in the process.

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