TRAVERSE CITY, MI – In 1986, the Reagan Admin. became so concerned about the state of the domestic industrial base that it created the National Center for Mfg. Sciences to strengthen U.S. companies through collaboration among varying industries.

Today, the NCMS’ mission remains the same, as it works to transfer best practices used by governmental and private entities for use by the automotive industry.

The industry would be wise to tap into the technological know-how NCMS has to offer, because automotive is not sustainable the way it is today, Richard Pearson, president and CEO of NCMS, says at the annual Management Briefing Seminars here.

“To build a 2,000-lb. (907 kg) automobile, not counting energy, it takes 50,000 lbs. (22,680 kg) out of the Earth,” Pearson says. “Manufacturing is not sustainable without eco-systems eroding further.”

Through partnerships with other industries, government agencies and the U.S. military, NCMS has created a program dubbed the “Lean Product Development Initiative.”

Through the initiative, NCMS claims it can help companies realize “as much as a 400% increase in development productivity.”

“It’s amazing how much the automotive industry can learn from other industries,” says Pearson, likening NCMS to a “match maker.” Some of the match making involves technology developed by the U.S. Dept. of Defense (DoD).

Through NCMS, DoD technology could be adapted for the automotive industry, Pearson says. “Once we identify needs, we look at (our) industry partners and try to offer (them) a technical solution.”

The NCMS also serves as a conduit for Tier 1 and Tier 2 automotive suppliers to introduce their technological innovations to the market and benefit in return.

“Approximately 60% of our member companies are small and medium sized. We help them get their technologies exposed,” Pearson says. “We serve as a neutral third party.”

In addition to exposure and access to new technology, NCMS also can help companies of all sizes manage their intellectual property rights, Pearson says.

“One of the most critical roles we have as a facilitator of intellectual property is to look at background technology that an organization comes in with and make sure it’s secure.”

bpope@wardsauto.com