Redefining what 'better' means in manufacturing

There are two fundamental principles guiding manufacturing at the plant level today. They are reflected in the technology PLANT ENGINEERING celebrated March 20 at the 2005 Product of the Year dinner. You can see this year's winners starting on page 70. One major effort is innovation. Innovation led the United States through the Industrial Revolution, through the Depression, through World War II...

04/01/2006


There are two fundamental principles guiding manufacturing at the plant level today. They are reflected in the technology PLANT ENGINEERING celebrated March 20 at the 2005 Product of the Year dinner. You can see this year's winners starting on page 70. One major effort is innovation. Innovation led the United States through the Industrial Revolution, through the Depression, through World War II, through the Space Age and into the Modern Age - though I think at every one of those milestones, there was some editor getting up and declaring THAT was the "modern age."

Innovation has been getting a lot of attention lately in the United States. It has gotten attention from manufacturing leaders, from the White House, from the education community. Part of that discussion includes whether the U.S. has lost its edge in innovation. We have discussed in these pages at length what innovation means in the emerging global economy. What we do not hear enough about is that the true innovation of ideas and execution will occur on the plant floor.

I have heard the same message from every system integrator and software manufacturer -- the age of "intelligent manufacturing" has arrived. What they really are talking about is giving the plant floor manager and the plant floor workers the information, in real time, to actually make things better - and as a result, to make better things. It is quantifiable data and it makes sense to the people charged with delivering productivity, delivering on the promise of all that technology. That is true intelligence, and it is better.

Our of reach of the plant engineer for too long, that information now migrates to the plant floor to be used in driving productivity, raising quality and getting products to market faster - all the areas in which American manufacturing workers are still the envy of the world.

We believe the people who affect change each day in manufacturing are not in corner offices but on plant floors. They will find ways to innovate, and will take the innovations of others and bring them to life and to market. We invite our readers to use this form, as they have for almost 60 years, to continue the discussion of how to make manufacturing better.

PLANT ENGINEERING puts its trust in manufacturing's revival in America in the hands and hearts and minds of these plant floor manufacturing leaders. Given the right resources, these plant managers and plant engineers will redefine what "better" means in American manufacturing.





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