From system integration to Silly Putty, solutions abound

Here’s why manufacturing is such a fascinating topic to cover: Sometimes the solutions to the problems faced daily on the plant floor are solved with dazzlingly effective technological advancements we would have deemed impossible just a decade ago. From 3D imaging to advanced monitoring of equipment to business-level plant execution systems, we have sophisticated ways of measuring and aff...

08/01/2006


Here’s why manufacturing is such a fascinating topic to cover: Sometimes the solutions to the problems faced daily on the plant floor are solved with dazzlingly effective technological advancements we would have deemed impossible just a decade ago. From 3D imaging to advanced monitoring of equipment to business-level plant execution systems, we have sophisticated ways of measuring and affecting change in all areas of our plant floor.

And sometimes, the solutions to the problems faced daily on the plant floor are solved with a little shaving cream or some Silly Putty.

At the same time we’re studying the important and challenging work going on in petrochemical, pharmaceutical and food manufacturing, we look at simple, elegant solutions to common plant problems in our 21st Tips & Tricks issue. You won’t find two more diverse stories in a magazine this month, yet they are fundamentally related by one common theme: When faced with a problem, truly clever people will find a solution.

Nowhere in Famous Engineers School will you find a chapter on pulling wires through conduit using shaving cream, but some clever engineer came up with that solution and shares it with you this month.

On the other hand, we’ve also got a comprehensive look at some of manufacturing’s growth markets and how technologies developed for those industries are migrating to other areas of the plant floor. Those technologies require an army of engineers who understand what the problems are and bring their cleverness to the front to find the solution.

Solutions aren’t always of the high-tech variety. Sometimes, it’s doing what needs to be done in the heat of the moment that keeps things running well. At the same time, we are on the cusp of some remarkable technological breakthroughs that change how we measure and manage all that we make each day.

The common denominator is bright people. We need to celebrate the ones we have, and we need to find more of them and nurture a whole new generation of them. We start by encouraging more education in math, science and engineering, and in finding ways to celebrate achievements in these areas.

Our Top Plant program is certainly a way to celebrate the excellence in your manufacturing facility, and I’d welcome everyone’s entry into that program this year. It’s a great way to measure your operation against other manufacturers, and to give your people the recognition they deserve for being bright people.

We see the continuing struggles in manufacturing, and we are faced with the constant challenge to do more with less. It is sometimes important to stop, see what we’ve achieved, celebrate what we have solved in our industry, and use that as momentum to find and solve the next problem we face.

If we succeed in finding that next solution, it won’t matter if we use sophisticated systems or Silly Putty.





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