The U.S. manufacturers, skilled tradesmen and engineers are shifting their energy and focus from manufacturing their traditional products and are battling the novel coronavirus nationwide by providing solutions to the lack of ventilators, hand sanitizer, sterilizers, N-95 masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages required to fight this threat. They are improvising new methods, tooling and materials to convert factories and keep them humming in the manufacture of these much needed supplies as the coronavirus pandemic threatens one of the biggest disruptions in memory to supply chains, staffing and demand.
The Challenging Question We Often Face.
Recently, I was challenged by a friend, who is not associated with our business, if I could explain why one of our prospective clients why they would hire an outside design/build engineering firm.The client has the capability to produce products in their manufacturing plants, and would thus have a fair amount of in house capability. This is a very provocative question, and one which we are regularly challenged to answer. As I reflected on the varied reasons that support our business, I decided that rather than give my usual elevator speech, I would have a bit of fun with my answer. So, here are what we observe are the top ten reasons (in ascending order) why our clients do routinely ask us to participate, as viewed from their perspective:
Not only did we celebrate a new year when the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2020, but also a new decade (depending on who you ask)! What is it about a new year that causes us to take stock and vow to make improvements? As I stepped on the scale this morning, I noted that one of my high ranking resolutions is in serious jeopardy. But then, I was able to rationalize my lackluster progress by remembering that all the holiday cookies, candy, caramel coated popcorn, etc. have been consumed, and the plan to lose a few pounds should self-correct (skeptics need not reply).
“Rapid” is how we describe getting things done quickly. It implies that an objective is pursued with haste, but not with waste. Rapid is positive, advantageous, and sought-after.
This post originally ran in the Automation World CSIA Blog.
Recent advances in technology have made it possible for manufacturers to build processing lines that will create products faster, cheaper and of higher quality. Many of the new technologies have moved so quickly that they are considered disruptive in the changes they make to manufacturing processes. But new technology doesn’t come without a cost.
I am a registered member of the Sons of the American Revolution. Two of my ancestors were enlisted as privates in the Pennsylvania Militia and fought in the Revolutionary War under General Washington. Before enlisting in the army, they were farmers. This was true of most others who fought with them. At the time of the revolution, America was primarily an agricultural society. Farms and farmers were the primary producers of wealth for the colonies. Manufactured goods were imported from England and paid for with the currency gained from the sale of farmed commodities.
Today’s technologies demand more of everything—more data, computing power, test cycles, security, reliability, everything.
Brick and mortar stores are in a steep decline. Every day we hear about another chain closing down dozens of retail outlets and at the same time malls are being shut down or repurposed. Shopping patterns are changing rapidly. We no longer go out to shop. We check out products, compare prices and do a one click purchase from our cell phones. And after we click we have an expectation that the item will be delivered to us in a day or two. It is not uncommon to get an email or text saying our item has been shipped less than an hour after we place the order.
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.