Electrical Systems / Energy Management

New collaborations to aid supply chain development, growth and jobs for North American wind energy industry

Source: Society of Manufacturing Engineers

Jan 11, 2010

Creating clean sources of energy and providing jobs are key goals of the North American wind energy industry. To help achieve these goals, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) has joined forces with the American Wind Energy Association on one side of the border and with the Canadian Wind Energy Association on the other.

In separate agreements, these associations will:

  • Support development of the wind energy supply chain in the United States and Canada
  • Provide wind-energy market information to manufacturers looking to transition to wind-energy components manufacturing
  • Equip the industry with manufacturing knowledge needed to produce technically advanced products and innovate for the future
  • Connect manufacturing capabilities and expertise with wind energy manufacturing needs
  • Prepare the manufacturing work force with the appropriate skills to ensure manufacturing competitiveness in the future.

“SME’s partnerships with two of the strongest industry voices for wind energy — the American Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Wind Energy Association — will help build capacity and provide support for the wind-energy manufacturing supply chain,” says Pam Hurt, strategic alliances manager at SME.

“These working relationships enable SME to connect manufacturers to a growth industry that is fairly young but still complex. By sharing technical information and programming, our associations support advanced manufacturing and its workforce.”

For its part, AWEA is “working with wind turbine manufacturers from around the world to encourage them to locate manufacturing facilities in the U.S.,” says Jeff Anthony, business development manager, AWEA.

“They will need to be supplied by manufacturers for components and sub-components in this country, and SME can help us direct this role through educational partnerships and working collaboratively.”

Chris Forrest, vice president, communications and marketing, CanWEA says, “SME will help equip the wind industry with the technical manufacturing expertise needed to design and produce innovative products for the future. Some of these components are massively heavy and difficult to transport so they must be built close to installation, which helps drive the need to develop extended supply chains. At the same time, the partnership will provide wind energy market information to manufacturers looking to expand into a growing new sector.”

Some specific collaborative efforts include AWEA’s participation at SME signature events like FABTECH, WESTEC and EASTEC, and CanWEA’s participation at SME’s Canadian shows such as the Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show. Conversely, SME sponsors and provides expertise at AWEA and CanWEA annual conferences and seminars.

The organizations will educate their members on the initiatives to bring direct benefit to their respective memberships. By leveraging the combined marketing efforts, trade publications, e-communications and newsletters, technical communities of interest, webinars and other programs, a strong industry can be supported for the long-term.

"SME will provide the platform for a technical community network to share manufacturing knowledge, expertise and opportunities for the North American wind energy industry,” says Hurt.

“The wind energy industry has seen unprecedented growth in recent years, even in 2009 during the midst of a huge economic recession. The industry will be installing the second-highest number of wind turbines in the U.S. this year,” Anthony adds.

And in Canada, CanWEA has already seen “a shift from sourcing wind energy materials from Europe and Asia, creating a new and rapidly growing opportunity to build manufacturing capacity in North America,” says Forrest.

SME’s Pam Hurt says of the collaborations overall, “The entire world is racing to build the infrastructure to support clean energy development. We have a window of opportunity to not only build and enhance the North American supply chain, but define and train the green work force for tomorrow’s challenges that are only now being recognized. Working together and aligning our resources is a smart solution to those challenges.”