When you are working at the cutting edge, trying to create a technology program for the nation’s small and mid-sized manufacturers (SMMs), it can be easy to get discouraged.
Most SMMs are busy trying to stay ahead of their day-to-day business and pay their bills. Looking for and embracing new technologies, methodologies and innovative process is not something most of them have time to explore. As a consequence, trying to get them to sit down and discuss a program such as OSC’s AweSim—even with a portfolio of successful case studies—is difficult, time consuming and can be frustrating.
It is easy to come in on a Monday morning and feel overwhelmed and find yourself thinking that no one seems to understand, or even care about, the potential of the AweSim program to the SMM community. To the OSC-AweSim team members’ credit, they have never allowed a problem to overwhelm them. They have embraced every obstacle as a challenge.
For example, how do you reach nearly 300,000 SMMs?
One way AweSim has done that is by starting an outreach program to work with national manufacturing and engineering associations to create an affinity program that includes half-day workshops to reach and engage SMMs in scale.
This work is not going unnoticed internationally.
Mexico, in fact, is a country that has a national manufacturing agenda to create a world-class manufacturing sector. People there are looking at U.S. programs such as the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) and the OSC-AweSim program to emulate and use to create a strong and vibrant Mexican SMM manufacturing sector to support industry sectors from automotive to appliances to aerospace.
To accomplish this, the Mexican federal government has enlisted FUMEC, the United States-Mexico Foundation for Science, funded by the Mexican Ministry of Economy to create a proof of concept demonstration program to create a Mexican version of AweSim. Success of these demonstration projects will lead to a fully funded national program to be launched in early 2017.
While we have a lead at the moment, we need to continue to grow and evolve the OSC-AweSim program to help the U.S. SMMs embrace new technology that will help them be competitive in the global marketplace. There is no denying other nations have set their sights on manufacturing as their national focus and, like Mexico, they look to the U.S. as innovators and chose to be fast followers.
We can’t get discouraged or rest on our laurels; Mexico and others around the world are coming on fast. Don’t look back; look forward, because surely they are gaining on us.