The Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund, which will provide $10 million in grants over the next five years, announced last week that it has awarded $4 million in grants to create new processes, ideas, and job creation that will foster America’s growing manufacturing footprint.
“Innovation is part of the heart and soul of Walmart,” said Michelle Gloeckler, Walmart’s executive president of consumables and U.S. manufacturing at the company’s the 2nd U.S. Manufacturing Summit in Denver held last week .
“By investing in American ingenuity originating everywhere from the research lab to the assembly line, we can transform our approach to manufacturing to be more cost-effective and efficient,” she said. “We can bring more jobs and more production back into American communities.”
The grant recipients were selected for their ability to address two key areas that currently present barriers to increased domestic manufacturing:
- Reducing the cost of textiles manufacturing, including home textiles and apparel, in the U.S. by addressing obstacles throughout production.
- Improving common manufacturing processes with broad application to many types of consumer products.
“It’s only fitting to work with the nation’s largest retailer on this initiative, a company that is committed to U.S. manufacturing and creating more jobs to help boost the U.S. economy,” said Kevin Johnson, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and mayor of Sacramento.
“The projects recognized today are some of the best ways we’ve seen to bring American manufacturing into the Cities 3.0 era, helping to create hubs of innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology. Cities 3.0 is the next era of the American city, where cities are becoming the laboratories and incubators of change by supporting projects like the ones recognized today," Johnson added.
The 2014 Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund grant winners are:
- Georgia Tech Research Corporation for innovation of thread-count-based fabric motion control, a critical enabling technology for the automated production of sewn goods.
- Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) to advance and accelerate the industrial implementation of metal 3-D printing for the manufacturing of plastic injection tooling as an alternative to current metal-shaping practices.
- North Carolina State University College of Textiles to address challenges to manufacturing of furniture cushions in the U.S. by implementing new technologies in both fabric printing and cut-and-sew automation.
- Oregon State University to develop two novel alternative mold fabricating approaches, and evaluate for functionality, precision and cost reduction potential.
- Texas Tech University to support collaborative research on cotton breeding and biotechnology, cotton production, and various aspects of textile manufacturing, dyeing efficiency and specialty finishes.
- University of Texas at Arlington to develop a novel manufacturing system that will autonomously prepare small motor sub-systems and assemble the motor components.
- University of Georgia Research Foundation to develop an innovative approach to fabric dyeing that will greatly reduce, and perhaps eliminate, the need for water in dyeing cotton and cotton/polyester fabrics and yarns.