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Tuesday, January 9th 2007

13:27

The Next Manufacturing Wave

Fred Hapgood writes in the latest issue of CIO magazine about the hstory and future of manufacturing (see Factories of the Future). He goes back about 100 years when the US manufacturers gained supremacy by applying continuous manufacturing techniques. We lagged behind on adopting lean technics and have had to catch up. Mr. Hapgood thinks that the next turing point might be adaptive manufacturing.

In order to thrive in the current globablized ecomnomic environment, enterprises need to be able to offer a wide variety of products/services and be able to quickly throw resources behind the ones that sell. Economic forces are in constant change in today's world. The US dollar is kept high because Asian countries purchase and hold so many dollar assets. If (when) this trend reverses and the value of the dollar falls, industries depending on imports will be impacted negatively. US based enterprises that produce goods and services will be able to offer them competitively.

The US manufacturers who can respond rapidly to global demand and deliver needed goods/services will be at the forefront of this wave. Some of the tools that will help compete are:

  • closely linked supply chains that can react to changing demand
  • machine vision systems, especially linked with easily reprogrammable robotic manufacturing cells
  • real-time information that can be presented as dashboard informatiion to executives
  • rapid prototyping
  • wireless sensor and actuator networks that can bring the information to the collection systems
  • collaboration methodology that allows teams of enterprises to deliver value that none could alone

How well are you positioned on these abilities? Will your enterprise be able to quickly respond to global demands?

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