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"Making" It: Greater Baltimore's Manufacturing Industry

Greater Perspective Header Sept. 2020 Newsletter

MANUFACTURING: The production of products for use or sale, using labor and machines, tools, and chemical or biological processing or formulation.  This broad definition applies to a diverse group of companies ranging from “maker’ producers with no more than a handful of workers, to multi-national companies with thousands of employees. Greater Baltimore’s manufacturing industry is also very diverse – representing a sector that has grown in a region that some consider being at a disadvantage when compared to other parts of the country such as the Southeast and Midwest.  While it may be easy to focus on the negatives, doing so ignores the assets that have resulted in over 60,000 manufacturing jobs in the Region, and a 27.9% rise in manufacturing GDP in the years 2007 to 2017 within the Baltimore MSA.  

EAGB highlighted the manufacturing sector in its September 2019 Region on Point newsletter and tracks the industry through its Manufacturing Industry Profile. This edition of Region on Point will focus on two areas where Greater Baltimore’s manufacturing industry can excel – the application of technology to manufacturing processes and the growth of biopharmaceutical manufacturing as a component of the Region’s strong biohealth sector.

Canva Stock photo 4.0 advanced manufacturing

The Application of Technology to Manufacturing Processes:

The application of digital technology to the manufacturing industry, described as Industry 4.0, is considered a strategic priority if manufacturers are to meet the challenges of increasing productivity while producing quality products that customers demand. Technology innovations like the IoT, cloud computing, Big Data and artificial intelligence are making it possible to gather and analyze data across machines and business systems, enabling faster, more flexible, and more efficient processes to produce higher-quality goods at lower cost.

call out box 1 sept 2020

Stanley Black & Decker (SBD) in Baltimore County is at the forefront of incorporating technology in the design, production and distribution of its products. Gregg Chamberlain, VP, Human Resources Global Operations, Tools and Storage Division, said “We realized four or five years ago that we needed to disrupt ourselves – how we conduct our business – before something on the outside disrupted it for us.” SBD chose to embrace this disruptor – the quickly evolving new technologies in advanced manufacturing – in order to maintain a competitive edge in delivering a quality product on time: a value-driven customer-focused goal integral to the company’s culture.

Technology, particularly digital technology, has transformed the way SBD does business in ways ranging from the routine to the highly creative. For example, highly sensitive sensors that feed data about how a piece of equipment is functioning are used to signal that maintenance is needed long before visual inspection could detect the issue, eliminating the need to take equipment off-line in order to make repairs. At the other end of the spectrum, augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence are applied in creating a computer-generated map of a plant floor that can be used to simulate and manipulate the entire production process in order to strategize how to create efficiencies, enhance quality and drive safety.

The impact of technology is also felt in the skills and aptitude the company looks for in its employees. “The shift has been from the more traditional siloed skills to finding individuals who demonstrate a level of creativity, problem-solving and critical thinking that are necessary if we are to be ready for whatever the future brings,” said Mr. Chamberlain. SBD also recognizes the importance of ensuring its current workforce is properly prepared for the new digital technologies and is investing heavily in providing access to digital learning resources and hands-on experiences.

Knorr Brake Company in Carroll County is another example of a company using technology to address a challenge – in this case one that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. The transmission of the novel virus in enclosed areas has greatly impacted travel – by air but also by other modes of public transportation. Knorr, a manufacturer of braking systems, doors and climate controlled equipment for train cars, recently collaborated with engineers in China and Australia to develop a three-step technology to purify the air in a train car. Knorr’s engineers state that the system is capable of eliminating 99.99% of airborne particulates, bacteria and viruses as validated by recent lab tests after running the air purification system for 15 minutes. Major cities across the country, particularly those with large passenger rail transit systems, have indicated strong interest in Knorr’s system.


The Growth of Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing as a Component of the Region’s Strong Biohealth Sector:

Let’s pivot now to manufacturing of a different type of product and how Greater Baltimore’s assets can support growth in this arena as well: biopharmaceuticals. 

Greater Baltimore’s strength in the life science industry is well known and has received national attention with the world-wide and ongoing disruption to every aspect of our lives resulting from the pandemic caused by COVID-19 virus.  We have written about the industry as recently as the July 2020 Region on Point and maintain current information about the sector in EAGB’s LifeScience Industry Profile. The data highlights the Region’s assets, including:

The Region, always strong in Life Science R&D, is also gaining prominence in biopharmaceutical manufacturing. This article will highlight two companies that have achieved national exposure as the Country and the world anxiously follow the progress for developing a vaccine that will stem – if not eradicate – the spread of COVID-19. 

Catalent has signed an agreement with AstraZeneca to manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine at their Greater Baltimore facility near BWI. The company is a premier technology, development and manufacturing partner for innovators across the entire field of advanced biotherapeutics. Catalent has two additional locations in Maryland; one at UMB Bio Park with over 300 employees, and a facility in Gaithersburg.

Emergent BioSolutions has mobilized its integrated clinical and commercial development and manufacturing network to provide development services out of its Gaithersburg, MD location as well as manufacturing services out of its two Baltimore facilities – Baltimore/Camden and Baltimore/Bayview.  The latter is designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing.

Emergent signed an agreement in March, 2020, to collaborate with Novavax to provide contract development and manufacturing services to produce its experimental vaccine candidate to be used in clinical trials. More recently, Emergent entered into a five-year agreement valued at $480M with Johnson & Johnson to manufacture its COVID-19 vaccine candidate at its Baltimore Bayview facility.

Learn more about Emergent BioSolutions in this month’s Industry Spotlight.

Sean Kirk image with logo

There is significant opportunity for additional life science labs and pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities in the Region with plans to build a 170,000 sf office and lab building at Port Covington in South Baltimore. The building would be constructed by Alexandria Real Estate Equities, a public REIT based in Pasadena, CA, with a significant presence in the technology and life science markets, including 3M sf in the DC Capitol’s 270 Corridor.

Greater Baltimore will continue to strengthen its assets in science and technology and the R&D infrastructure to support an industry that historically wasn’t always identified with innovation and cutting-edge technology: manufacturing. Technological advances in life science/biopharmaceutical manufacturing and the transformation of “mainstream” manufacturing through the application of Industry 4.0 are leading the Region into the future.  

Access the full EAGB September 2020 Region On Point newsletter here.

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