A recent federal grant may soon bring new tools to small and mid-sized original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in North Carolina that will allow them to better compete with their larger counterparts. To further bolster the Manufactured in North Carolina (MNC) program established in 2011, the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) granted the state $250,000 to be disbursed over the next two years.
What does the program entail?
The grant money will be put toward the development and implementation of an online business-to-business program designed to enhance the services the MNC is already providing to more than 1,000 OEMs within the state. Through the MNC, small and medium-sized manufacturers are able to create and maintain a Web presence that helps them gain better exposure in their industries. With the help of the Open Nomenclature Process for Organizing Interpersonal Networks and Technology (ON_POINT), these businesses will soon have access to even more data regarding their target audience, competitors, market trends and more.
"ON_POINT will help level the playing field for North Carolina's small and mid-sized manufacturers," Dr. Terri Helmlinger Ratcliff, executive director of the North Carolina State University Industrial Extension Service (IES), said in a release. "This tool will allow business to be conducted with the speed, agility, and tech savvy necessary for success in today's marketplace."
How will it help OEMs?
With tools like ON_POINT, small and medium-sized OEMs will be able to see and use a plethora of information without having to dedicate time, money and effort that could be more lucratively spent elsewhere in the supply chain. By studying the local, national and global industry trends, OEMs can gear their efforts to be competitive in their industries. Customer intelligence will also allow manufacturers to ensure they are delivering high-quality products that meet their clients' needs. Say, for instance, ON_POINT reveals to an OEM that delayed delivery has been an issue in the past. The company can then look into its options to improve reliability. In turn, its reputation will improve and it will see more repeat and new customers.
Fiona Baxter, another official from the IES, explained that this technology can not only prove useful from a sales and marketing perspective, but that it may also assist with lean manufacturing. With the ability to bolster sales and improve supply chain management, comes the opportunity to reduce waste and improve energy efficiency. In turn, this can lead to lower spending needs on everything from equipment and inventory to labor and maintenance costs.
What other technology can aid manufacturers?
ON_POINT is not the only technology that North Carolina manufacturers can look to in coming months. President Obama has made great strides in developing the manufacturing sector, and his most recent move has been to open manufacturing hubs across the country. He just announced that the next hub will be built in the Tar Heel State. The president's intention for these hubs is to foster growth and innovation that will keep the U.S. manufacturing sector in a leading position among global competitors. They will also help bolster job growth and attract new talent to the sector.
The Next Generation Power Electronics Innovation Institute is aimed at improving electronics, which would position the nation to lead the way in this industry. Specifically, the area of focus will fall on the development of wide bandgap semiconductors, which the president explained use less energy and can function at higher temperatures than the traditional semiconductors. This technology is found in a slew of devices, including smartphones, tablets and televisions, and could have widespread implications not just for the manufacturers of these items but for the companies that rely on them as well.