Some products are just too significant to die. Or so it would seem. A few that come to mind are Wonder Bread, Twinkies, the Polaroid Camera and now Ektachrome film. A question we might ask is if the product was so great in the first place why did it disappear from the marketplace. And what makes companies believe that if they reinstate a previously failed product it will succeed the second time? Reasons may vary from situation to situation. And it may be a matter of timing. Although it isn’t a single brand, the sale of vinyl records is one example of the rebound of what appeared to be an obsolete product. Sales of vinyl in 2016 reached a 25-year high. More than three million LPs were sold in 2016, the highest number since 1991. Spending on vinyl outstripped that spent on digital downloads.
Many efficient, high-speed manufacturing processes are implemented using roll-to-roll manufacturing that processes a web based product.
Each year we that we offer web handling training to our clients, we hear their stories of why they decided to take the class, and later, how they applied what they learned in their plant after they left. Pete Sherer writes up a fictional story, based on our own customers and their feedback:
When manufacturing companies in the processing segment are faced with having to solve their varied production problems and challenges, they may find due to resource constraints within their own organizations that hiring in some outside help is required. Manufacturers in these situations frequently have qualification steps to go through to ensure that the potential supplier can provide the level of service necessary to solve the problem at hand. This is equally true whether the company in need requires replacement of a failed part, regulatory guidance for a new chemical to be introduced, or installation of a new piece of process equipment. The varied disciplines within a process based company that may be serviced by contractors is broad and varied. Businesses that look to suppliers for assistance should be able to understand and verify the skills and capabilities of their suppliers, on a project by project basis, to ensure a successful outcome.
The byword of the presidential campaign and the new administration has been creating manufacturing jobs in the United States. But even before the change in leadership in Washington there was a push to create manufacturing jobs, save the automobile industry, provide funding to create apprenticeships and new qualified tradesmen.
There has always been an element of service as a product but it is accelerating in recent years and may become the dominant method of delivery for sophisticated goods over the next several years. The question being asked by manufactures is, do consumers want a “thing” or do they want the service that the product delivers? Do consumers want to buy a device and use and maintain it or would they prefer to pay for the actual use they get from it? A traditional example of this was the car lease. Consumers get a car to use and effectively pay for the miles they drive. The repair and maintained costs are covered in the lease fee paid. The same concept can now be applied to almost anything a consumer uses. As the Internet of Things has become more robust it has made it possible to monitor more closely the operation and failure of appliances, and to do predictive and preventive maintenance.
Say you are a manufacturer with an aging production infrastructure, faced with the opportunity to sell more of your goods (if only you could up your output from your existing equipment). As you begin your investigation into your options to increase your volumes, and consider the possibility of a capital investment, you may then be faced with the need to deal with parts of your existing system which may have to be brought up to current code. The modifications you may desire for your current machinery, which will enable the integration of new equipment to give you the added production you are seeking, are also now mandating certain regulated updates (this can happen to electrical components and wiring, and can also drive necessary improvements to guarding for operator safety).
A couple of buzz words in today’s industrial vocabulary are Arc Flash and NFPA 70E.
Arc Flash is a type of electrical explosion or discharge that results from a low-impedance connection through air to ground or another voltage phase in an electrical system. In layman’s terms, it’s an explosion of light and heat that contains electrical energy that can cause substantial damage, harm, fire, injury and financial loss. (It is something that you want to prevent from occurring in your facility!)
In a quote attributed to Warren Bennis over a decade ago, it was stated that “The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching any of the equipment.” Perhaps the future he visualized is very near.
I recently sat with a couple of our top project managers here at Optimation. The subject was project management: risk assessment and mitigation. Risk is a big deal here. Very often our clients hire us to help manage their project risk. This can come in the form of scope, schedule, or budget dimensions, each of which poses its own unique challenges to a client's ability to achieve their goals when undertaking capital projects.
Topics: Project Management