Government initiatives aimed at reviving U.S. manufacturing were already underway when the coronavirus effectively knocked out distribution channels linking Chinese manufacturers and U.S. consumers. For example, the Defense Department’s Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment Office has aggressively sought to secure the electronics supply chain for critical infrastructure.
Meanwhile, several industrial base proposals have been floated in the U.S. Senate.
The ball has since been picked up by technology lobbying groups in Washington. For example, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) released a report on April 13 calling for a national industrial strategy aimed at key manufacturing sectors ranging from aerospace and computers to semiconductors and automation.
“Even before this pandemic, China posed an unprecedented competitiveness challenge in the advanced industries that are most critical to America’s economic wellbeing and national security,” said ITIF President Robert Atkinson. “We need to fortify the country’s most invaluable and irreplaceable industries.”
The renewed push for a national industrial strategy responds to vulnerabilities in global supply chains exposed by the pandemic originating in China’s manufacturing heartland. Experts note the current lack of financial incentives for risking new manufacturing initiatives. They also emphasize the decline in U.S. manufacturing skills and “human capital” in the form of production engineers needed to run fabs along with production and assembly lines.
“I would want to have a hedge” to shift production, “which we don’t have at the moment,” Dan Breznitz, a long-time observer of China’s technological transformation, told EE Times in February as the coronavirus began its inexorable march across the globe.
Even before the pandemic began spreading like wildfire, industry sources said DoD officials have been ramping up efforts to shore up the U.S. electronics supply chain. Among the initiatives are expanded use of emerging digital twin capabilities that would be incorporated into DoD-trusted fabs built around secure manufacturing processes.
For the rest of this story, please see EETimes.