The US Air Force is launching its inaugural Advanced Manufacturing Olympics, as global political and industry leaders race to accelerate Industry 4.0 solutions in the wake of the COVID-19 upheavals.
The Advanced Manufacturing Olympics brings together government personnel, suppliers, contractors, academia, as well as startups and tech companies to solve some of the Air Force’s pressing sustainment issues.
It comes as industry and governments across the globe rush to shore up local manufacturing capabilities following economic and supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Advanced manufacturing is seen as a strategic investment by governments seeking to ensure critical supplies can be sourced locally in the advent of any future health, economic or political crises.
Australia recently announced a new $AU1.5 Modern Manufacturing Strategy, which will focus on six key areas, including the defence industry.
A recent McKinsey report shows that in the aftermath of the pandemic outbreak, global industry leaders have zoned in on leveraging Industry 4.0 solutions, with 39 percent implementing a nerve-centre, or control-tower, approach to increase end-to-end supply-chain transparency, and around a quarter fast-tracking automation programs to stem worker shortages arising from COVID-19.
US General Robert D. McMurry Jr says the Advanced Manufacturing Olympics will play an important role in accelerating advanced manufacturing capabilities, which will be critical to the American Air Forces’ future operational success, as threats from near-peer competitors China and Russia increase.
“It’s a trailblazing idea to bring together a community of industry, academia, government professionals to try and change the way we look at sustainment and operations of material in the US Air Force,” said General McMurry Jr has said as part of the launch.
“Our directive strategy for the Air Force is to be able to defend the country and the country’s interests in a contested peer fight – meaning someone equally equipped – and we think in order to do that and be prepared to do that, we have to explore every opportunity we can, to make our material systems, our mechanical systems as capable and continuously operable as possible.
“We think advanced manufacturing in terms of things like cold spray and additives and other technologies are going to be critical in making that work.”
The Virtual Olympics gathers for four days and features technical experiences, leading speakers and virtual networking. Participants can register to take part in the digital event, and explore new technologies and insights from thought-leaders across government, industry, academia and small businesses.