WASHINGTON — The Procter & Gamble Co. is taking part in an initiative President Obama unveiled Friday designed to revitalize the beleaguered U.S. manufacturing industry through a public-private collaboration and the development of advanced technologies.
Obama unveiled the $500 million program, dubbed the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. The funding would come from existing federal programs, as well as from proposed agency budgets in the future, which would be approved by Congress.
The President is launching the effort to jump-start the manufacturing base and encourage more hiring in the midst of an economic downturn and high unemployment rate, which rose to 9.1 percent last month and hurt his job approval rating as he begins to gear up for a reelection bid.
Obama singled out P&G’s efforts and contribution to the new partnership in his speech to about 150 leading manufacturing executives, university presidents, students and senior officials from federal agencies.
P&G teamed up with researchers at the Los Alamos National Lab a few years ago to adapt software developed for the research of nuclear particles for war into other uses, Obama said. The company is now using simulators from that research to boost the performance of diapers.
“But here’s what’s remarkable: Using this simulation software that was developed at Los Alamos, Procter & Gamble has saved $500 million — half a billion dollars — as a consequence of this simulator,” Obama said. “Now, through the new partnership that we’re setting up, Procter & Gamble is offering its powerful fluid dynamics simulator to smaller manufacturers, and it’s doing it for free.”
Obama said P&G will share the simulation software with thousands of suppliers under the new partnership.
Billed as a national effort between universities, the federal government and corporations to invest in emerging technologies and create manufacturing jobs, the plan features 11 manufacturing companies, including P&G, Intel, Honeywell, Ford Motor Co. and Caterpillar Inc. It will be led by Andrew Liveris, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The Dow Chemical Co., and Susan Hockfield, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Most small and medium-size businesses, which represent 95 percent of the country’s manufacturing enterprises and contribute approximately half of the jobs and goods produced in the U.S., cannot afford to invest in the digital tools for design and manufacturing because they are either too costly or require extensive training and expertise, the White House said in a fact sheet.
“Now, this is not just because Procter & Gamble wants to do good,” the President said. It’s also because they’ve got thousands of suppliers, and they’re thinking to themselves, If we can apply this simulation technology to our smaller suppliers, they’re going to be able to make their products cheaper and better, then that, in turn, is going to save us even more money. And it has a ripple effect throughout the economy.”