Helmut Ludwig, CEO of Siemens Industry USA, took time after attending the "America's New Manufacturing" conference held April 23 at the offices of the Washington Post and sponsored by Siemens to discuss what he felt the strongest takeaways from the conference were.
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He noted that in the keynote, Eric Spiegel had challenged American companies. "America has a training gap," Ludwig quoted Spiegel. It isn't a skills gap, it is a training gap, and that is very important. "Until we put the burden on those who train rather than those who need to be trained, we'll never solve the problem," Spiegel said.
Ludwig said, "We have a quite intense dialog running right now about the future of manufacturing in America. Some people talk about a manufacturing renaissance. Others talk about advanced manufacturing. Some even talk about a fourth industrial revolution. German Chancellor Angela Merkel pronounced it Industry 4.0 because it is more of an evolution building on what has gone before."
He added, "In May we will talk about productivity and in June we will meet with our most important end users at Automation Summit in New Orleans. This is a running dialog we believe we have to keep up, especially in this space, because there is still a bumpy road ahead before we can really see the manufacturing renaissance."
Ludwig noted the presence of both industry and government with speakers such as Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Amy Kobuchar (D-Minn.), Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee, Allan McArtor, chairman, Airbus Americas, Ron Bloom, former Obama manufacturing policy leader and now vice chairman, U.S. Investment Banking, at Lazard Frères, Bill Krueger, senior vice president, manufacturing, for Nissan, James Manyika of McKinsey Global Institute and others. See the entire list of speakers.
Four important themes ran through the entire conference. First was the connection of innovation and manufacturing. Second was virtual innovation. Third was the human element. The fourth and last was the training gap.
"This is not our father's or our grandfather's manufacturing job," Ludwig proclaimed. "It is a highly skilled job that is an interaction between human functions and automation. There will always be a place for human interaction in manufacturing. The lights-out factory is dead."