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Innovation and insight in manufacturing

iw.jpgDo you want to be focusing on the problems of the past, or do you want to outfit your organization so that everyone has the insight they need to deal with all the challenges that are being thrown at you in the future?”

That’s my opening comment in an article I wrote — the IndustryWeek Manufacturing Challenge — that has appeared online.

The article presents a ficticious company struggling with multiple disparate information networks; they’re wondering if they should bite the bullet and invest in a more sophisticated system, or whether they should struggle to make things work.

I opt for the former; from my perspective, innovative manufacturing companies should focus on these key traits, to deal with the unique challenges of the high velocity economy:

  • Concentrate on rapid replenishment
  • Go maximum on flexibility
  • Transition single-source labor to multisource skills
  • Implement flexible, just-in-time processes
  • Develop better bid or service costing
  • Have deep insight into rapidity
  • Work to become the supplier of choice
  • Be relentless on operational excellence

Innovation comes from focusing on the future; if you’ve got a mishmash of information tools that you can’t operate in the high velocity economy at low cost, and not even understand what is happening around you, then you’re like a deer in the headlights.

As I note in the article, “I’ve long been convinced that spending time on trying to rationalize disparate, uncoordinated, inflexible and unconnected systems is quite simply a waste of time, and I’ve seen dozens of organizations who have realized this and have moved on.

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