Nebraska MEP to start up new automation demonstration and training facility

by Jon Wilson

East Campus pillars at enterance
September 7, 2022

Lincoln, Neb. — To further bolster the state’s manufacturing companies, the Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership is creating a robotics demonstration facility and training curriculum for manufacturers across the state. 

Nebraska’s low 2% unemployment rate is a major challenge facing companies attempting to fill open positions.  “Lack of labor and Supply Chain instability are the top issues manufacturers face.” says Matt Allmand, the Nebraska MEP’s director.  “Exploring the production process and finding opportunities to automate can facilitate growth.”

The Nebraska MEP’s automation initiative was born out of $25 million awarded to partner entities led by Invest Nebraska as part of a $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge program announced Sept. 2 by the Economic Development Administration, a Bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Nebraska MEP will receive $1.4 million of the grant and its comprehensive plan will include:

  • Providing a supply chain database of domestic rural and urban manufacturers for new robotic startups.
  • Assisting Nebraska manufacturers in testing and implementing robotic automation in their production process.
  • Developing a long-term strategic plan related to supply chain resiliency through co-locating downstream suppliers for robotic manufacturers.
  • Equipping a Manufacturing Automation Demonstration Area and Program in Lincoln for existing Nebraska manufacturers.  The space will be designed to train manufacturers on the uses of robotics and automation, identify potential areas in their plant to implement and help them identify a rough estimate of costs associated with these choices.  In addition, workforce and potential workforce training will include programing automation, and maintaining/installing such solutions.

“With components difficult to find in a timely manner, alternative sources of supply are required.” says Allmand.  “Local connections and business relationships can provide solutions with a doubly positive impact in our state.”

The manufacturing industry in Nebraska accounts for over 10% of the state’s GDP ($13 billion in 2019) and employs over 99,000 people on average.

The Nebraska MEP is part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program.  Residing within the U.S. Department of Commerce, MEP was created in 1988 with the intent of enhancing the productivity and technological performance of U.S. manufacturers.  Today, the MEP program consists of 51 centers in every state and Puerto Rico with over 400 service locations and 1,300 technical experts working together to advance and strengthen U.S. manufacturing.

The Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership is Nebraska's go-to resource for advancing manufacturing.  The program offers training, certification and consulting services relating to strategy, workforce, sustainability and compliance, sales and marketing, continuous improvement, quality and technology and innovation. 

More on the Nebraska MEP: https://nemep.unl.edu