The New England Advanced Manufacturing Hub launched July 9 with a webinar featuring top manufacturing leaders—many of whom were from Connecticut.

Known as AMHUB, the hub is part of a World Economic Forum-managed global network connecting regional manufacturing ecosystems to drive competitiveness through the use of technology and consortiums. 

The webinar was hosted by AMHUB, Tulip Interfaces, and Stanley Black & Decker.

AMHUB was described as New England's first advanced manufacturing hub and the seventh of its kind in the world.

"It is very clear why we had to be in New England," said Ian Cronin from the World Economic Forum.

"This is a place that has the history of traditional manufacturing and is also leading the way in advanced manufacturing."

Competitive Advantages

Significant competitive advantages due to population density, cross sector collaboration and partnerships, and some of the world's best academic institutions were additional reasons for locating the hub in New England. 

"There are 650,000 manufacturing jobs in New England and over 60% of them are advanced manufacturing," said Marty Guay, vice president of business development at Stanley Black & Decker. 

Not only were panelists discussing the newly launched hub, but also best practices for getting back to work safely, how manufacturers are adapting to production and supply chain disruptions, and leveraging technology to navigate the COVID-19 crisis.

AMHUB webinar panelists: Stanley Black & Decker's Marty Guay, Tulip CEO Natan Linder, Stanley's Sudhi Bangalore, Desktop Metal's Ric Fulop, Ian Cronin from the World Economic Forum, McKinsey & Company's Enno de Boer, Connecticut manufacturing chief Colin Cooper, MIT's Thomas Kochan, and Tulip's Saul Lustgarten.

Thomas Kochan, a George Maverick Bunker Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, elaborated on ways employers can help make employees feel more safe once they return to work.

"The organizations that are getting the work done most effectively are the ones engaging their workforce and addressing their safety concerns," Kochan said.

"You have to listen to the workforce and address their basic needs. 

"We have to recognize that if we have called them essential workers in the crisis, we have to carry that forward, otherwise there’s going to be an enormous workforce backlash."

Supply Chain Management

Panelists also touched upon new ways manufacturing companies are approaching and adapting to new production methods, recognizing new supply chain trends that are amplified by the coronavirus crisis.

"I give a lot of credit to our friends at Black & Decker here," said Ric Fulop, CEO of Desktop Metal.

"They've had an internal and well publicized effort to bring back and reshore their production. I think you're going to see more of that."

Fulop added that "air, land and sea modality” is turning into “digital modality" when it comes to supply chains—forcing more companies to take greater internal control.

"You're going to have digital modality where you mass customize to your local environment only when you need it."

Desktop Metal's Ric Fulop

"Now you're going to have digital modality where you mass customize to your local environment only when you need it, based on the demand that you need," he said.

Sudhi Bangalore, VP of Industry 4.0 at Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. said technology provides new opportunities for both employers and future employees across the globe, noting that manufacturing companies are becoming more open to hiring remote talent wherever it exists.

"Last week we onboarded a person out of Amsterdam," he said.

"I normally wouldn't have done that, but he had the perfect skill set, and it doesn’t matter where the person lives right now, as long as we can collaborate and engage.”

Priorities

Bangalore added that it unleashes a level of innovation that people haven't talked about enough yet.

Colin Cooper, Connecticut's chief manufacturing officer said he expects to see more remote onboarding examples like this, adding that it is just one of many new outcomes.

"We're looking to change state government—from subsidizing and being an enabler—to being a catalyst."

Colin Cooper

Cooper said his priorities and timelines also shifted, although recently, he has started to slowly shift from making short-term tactical decisions to long-term strategic ones.

"We are really focusing now on what we need to do to accelerate the digital transformation of our manufacturing base in Connecticut," Cooper said. 

"We're looking to change the state government—from subsidizing and being an enabler—to being a catalyst and trying to bring initiatives about where business is at the center of the ecosystem, not the government."