5 Things Obama Learned About Product Innovation That Inspired Him
In his recent visit to Cleveland this past March, President Barack Obama stopped by the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET) facilities to see what products were being created and developed by local manufacturers in Northeast Ohio. Obama was pleasantly surprised to see how these start-ups were creating innovations in a wide variety of fields, from medicine to aviation, right in the heart of Ohio.
Here’s what Obama learned in his visit:
Whiskey is being made faster than ever
Obama spoke with Tom Lix, CEO of Cleveland Whiskey and creator of a method that combines temperature and pressure control to make bourbon within six months (rather than the usual eight to 12 year period) that tastes just as good as the competition.
“I love Kentucky bourbon, but apparently this gets made a lot quicker,” Obama noted about Lix’s product. He couldn’t taste test Cleveland Whiskey then as he had a speech to deliver later that day, but he made sure to get his own bottle to take home.
The human skull can be repaired via prosthesis
It isn’t typical for the U.S. President to handle a human skull, but in this case Obama was shown how our craniums can be corrected using the latest computer technology. Dorothy C. Baunach, CEO of the medical device firm OsteoSymbionics, displayed their craniofacial implant products, a line of custom plastic prosthetics that are used to repair skull injuries. OsteoSymbionics’ product line is already used in dozens of top hospitals around the country, including the Cleveland Clinic.
Fuel alternatives are coming up in creative ways
Obama also spoke with Jim Garrett, CEO of Vadxx Energy, and Jeff Schick of EcoChem about the next generation of fuel alternatives. Garrett explained to Obama how Vadxx can make fuel out of plastic waste, essentially turning trash into gas. Shick then showed Obama samples of EcoChem’s High Performance Clean Diesel, which will increases the number of miles per gallon for bus fleets that typically use a lot of fuel. Shick pointed out that EcoChem is working with NASA and the Department of Defense, to which Obama replied, “Yeah, we use a lot of fuel.”
Students are helping to push innovation forward
Obama chatted with three students from Cleveland State University who are shop workers at MAGNET’s facilities. Donald Jackson, Chris Brabenec and Nate Palsa, all mechanical engineering majors, explained to Obama their work and future aspirations.
These students are a part of a MAGNET-CSU internship program, one of several MAGNET initiatives to help build tomorrow’s workforce. Similar work comes from Ohio Dream it. Do it, who work to bridge the skills and education gap in the manufacturing workforce through career ambassador programs for young students and educational tours for high schoolers, among other efforts.
Northeast Ohio holds the model for American business today
Amid the excitement of his tour and all of the hands-on experiences presented to him, Obama made an important observation about how the efforts of these start-ups and MAGNET show the direction that the United States and its businesses need to take.
While touring MAGNET’s facilities, Obama remarked, “This is a great example of how public-private partnership has created American business, employed Americans, and started to export – and we want to see if we can duplicate this across the board.”
Later, in his speech to the City Club of Cleveland, Obama announced that nearly $500 million in new public and private investment would be made for American manufacturing. This would directly benefit MAGNET’s start-ups and create more opportunities for other product manufacturers like them. About MAGNET, Obama added in his speech, “This partnership is bringing manufacturing jobs back to Cleveland. If something’s working, why would we want to get rid of it?”
It is clear that Obama has a plan to improve American business and his intentions were further bolstered by what he learned firsthand from these start-up leaders.
HEADLINE The survey definitively shows that product innovation leads to more growth, while “grow your own workforce” strategies will be needed to fill the major labor shortages hampering small manufacturer growth. Emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, and digital manufacturing are beginning to enhance innovation and productivity, but still have significant room for adoption amongst Ohio’s small manufacturing businesses. ABOUT THE SURVEY Under the direction of the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Ohio MEP), MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network conducted a thorough survey of Ohio’s manufacturing base. Contributing approximately 20% of Ohio’s jobs (and driving in some regions up to 50% of Ohio’s economy), and generating a disproportionate amount of export revenues and Gross Regional Product, manufacturing is critical to Ohio. Greater than 95% of Ohio’s manufacturers are small (under 500 employees), and these manufacturers need to remain competitive both nationally and internationally to ensure our economy’s health. Ohio’s Development Services Agency and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which runs the MEP, recognizes the importance of this sector and fuels MAGNET and the Ohio MEP program to directly serve and support innovation, efficiency, and growth in small and medium manufacturers. What manufacturers need
How Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Can Help Keep Our Engineers Safe and Our Manufacturing Strong Recall how difficult it was to put together complex LEGO creations when you were a child or helping a child. Now, picture assembling a fighter plane from a room full of parts. Even highly trained engineers can benefit from technology to help improve consistency and quality. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are making near-perfect assembly a possibility in the manufacturing space. By wearing AR glasses that use cameras, depth sensors and motion sensors to overlay images onto the real working environment, engineers and factory workers can visualize the exact bolts, parts, part numbers and instructions on how to assemble a particular component correctly. Lockheed Martin began using AR goggles and improved F-35 assembly time by 30 percent, in addition to increasing accuracy to 96 percent. In order to remain competitive, businesses should consider the ways VR and AR can improve efficiency and supply chain productivity. According to a recent BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research report, AR platforms can provide companies up to 25 percent in cost savings on installation of equipment. Here are four ways VR/AR is disrupting the mid-market manufacturing space:
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