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Ideas in the Making

Georgia’s manufacturing sector remains a profitable part of the state’s economy, with more companies incorporating strategies such as smart manufacturing to remain competitive. But while the industry is integrating more innovative practices, it is not as focused on cybersecurity vulnerabilities, the 2016 Georgia Manufacturing Survey suggests.

“One of the biggest takeaways is the industry’s use of smart manufacturing, which was a new focus for this year’s survey,” said Jan Youtie, principal research associate at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. “Smart manufacturing” refers to the use of data and information to improve product design and development, enhance manufacturing processes, and foster responsiveness to customers and suppliers.

“Manufacturing is one of the most important sectors in Georgia,” Youtie said, noting there are more than 9,000 manufacturers in the state who together employ more than 360,000 workers and account for 11 percent of Georgia’s gross state product.

Georgia manufacturers are increasingly incorporating new technologies into their operations, but the survey findings suggest that industry is not giving enough attention to cybersecurity risks.

“It’s more than just incorporating new technologies into a plant. Manufacturers need to be aware of the human aspect and how they can stay ahead of these potential risks,” said Karen Fite, director of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP), a federally funded Georgia Tech economic development program that helps companies grow and remain competitive.

Georgia Tech researchers conducted the survey of 526 manufacturers with 10 or more employees in collaboration with Kennesaw State University, the Georgia Department of Labor, and Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, an Atlanta-based accounting and business advisory firm. — Péralte C. Paul


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