• The CHIPS and Science Act
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With this initiative, each center is required to engage with large manufacturers to gain more understanding of their needs and expectations, from components to certifications and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals. The frameworks of ESG are used to assess the effect of a company’s sustainable and ethical practices on its financial performance and operations.
• A supply chain operations team—This is a community of more than 51 practitioners who will meet regularly to share best practices and what they’ve learned.
The Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC) was a key stakeholder in developing an assessment of the impacts of electrification transition on Illinois’ automotive industry. The report includes a risk assessment for the state’s automotive supply base, and it includes opportunities, concerns, and recommendations for Illinois stakeholders.
Some MEP centers have already done similar mapping work with encouraging results. For example:
• Strengthen and revitalize regional manufacturing ecosystems.
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• The Advanced Manufacturing Job Sprint (Investing in America Workforce Initiatives)
The supply chain mapping element is a significant opportunity for MEP centers and OEMs to align wants and needs. This will help centers make further inroads and increase awareness with OEMs that are upstream from their primary client base of small- and medium-sized companies.
The federal government has recognized the need to ease supply chain bottlenecks and ensure domestic production of products that are critical to national and economic security. This has led to investments that include direct funding and tax incentives for public and private manufacturing construction, such as:
2) Mapping and understanding supply chains and supplier capabilities, from OEMs to tier 1–4 suppliers.
The centers also will be learning about the supply chains in strategic or emerging industries, such as semiconductors, electric vehicles, energy, and biomanufacturing—where these key industries are going, and the opportunities and challenges for SMMs in those industries. This information will better equip them to advise local manufacturers.
1) Dedicated resources for staffing in supply chain management and/or supplier scouting to help companies identify domestic suppliers.
• The Inflation Reduction Act
The CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 authorized a pilot program of awards that would allow MEP centers to provide services focused on resiliency of domestic supply chains, workforce development, and adoption of advanced technology upgrades by SMMs. As a first step, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) MEP, under the SCOIN initiative, awarded roughly $400,000 to each of the 51 local MEP centers to kick-start these supply chain efforts.
What is the Supply Chain Optimization and Intelligence Network?
(NIST: Gaithersburg, MD) — The 51 Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers that make up the MEP National Network work to enhance the competitiveness of small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) within the United States. Although each MEP center operates independently and caters to the needs of its local manufacturing community, they share a common mission: assisting manufacturers, in various ways, to improve and succeed in today’s dynamic business environment.
3) Identifying, engaging, and learning the needs of key OEMs.
The events of the past few years, most notably the business disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the cascading effects that followed, have highlighted the importance of domestic supply chains.