Warren Hunt

The exponential growth of interest and research in advanced manufacturing has rapidly created a tsunami of information from a wide range of sources. But this flood of critical knowledge and data has quickly become difficult to locate and monitor. Fortunately, the folks at the NIST Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) are helping to ease the pain by collecting relevant research and reports into a single website.

MEP is a nationwide network that works with small- and mid-sized U.S. manufacturers to help them create and retain jobs, increase profits, and save time and money. They work with partners at the state and federal levels and use their network to directly assist manufacturers in developing and implementing innovation strategies, process improvements, and green manufacturing, among others.

To further assist these manufacturers in getting the information they need and saving time, MEP set up a “one-stop shop” for manufacturing research and reports. This Research and Reports site is divided into eleven topical areas that cover the interests of the manufacturing community:

  • Current State of Manufacturing
  • Innovation, R&D, and IP
  • Capital & Cost
  • Global Competitiveness
  • Federal/Industrial Collaboration
  • Education & Workforce
  • Regulatory & Policy Recommendations
  • Best Practices
  • Productivity
  • Sustainability
  • Supply Chain

Each category contains 5-20 current (2010 or later) resources ranging from government reports to policy papers to research studies. Covering issues at the state, national, and international levels, the research and reports are sourced are sourced from the following:

  • Government, such as NIST MEP, the Small Business Administration, General Accounting Office, and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)
  • Non-governmental organizations, such as the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF),the Council on Competitiveness, and the World Economic Forum
  • Private organizations, such as consulting groups like McKinsey, KPMG, and Deloitte

Another advantage of the MEP site is that it works hand-in-hand with another important advanced manufacturing resource: Manufacturing.gov. These resources complement each other well, with Manufacturing.gov focusing more on news and information on advanced manufacturing programs and related activities under way in federal agencies with science and technology missions. While there is some overlap between items in the Publications and Resources section of Manufacturing.gov and in the MEP Research and Reports site, both are critical to a thorough understanding of U.S. advanced manufacturing today.

The MEP website is a highly valuable resource and, assuming it’s kept current, should be a first stop for both novices and experts in advanced manufacturing. By serving as a central information source, the website will not only save the entire advanced manufacturing community from endless searching, but also from reinventing the wheel, quickening the speed of innovation and pushing U.S. manufacturing to new heights.