ARC conference: Trends demand ‘culture of collaboration’ for manufacturing

When it comes to integrating manufacturing execution systems with the automation layer of manufacturing, "we are not seeing the level of collaboration that would really create added value," said Charles Johnson, worldwide managing director of Microsoft's Manufacturing Industry Solutions Group. There are opportunities, he adds. Johnson and other panelists provided advice and examples of collaboration in action at the recent ARC Advisory Group conference.

07/03/2007


Boston, MA —When it comes to integrating manufacturing execution systems with the automation layer of manufacturing, “we are not seeing the level of collaboration that would really create added value,” said Charles Johnson, worldwide managing director of Microsoft’s Manufacturing Industry Solutions Group. “There is an opportunity for all of us to drive that effort forward.” Johnson joined vendor and end user panelists providing advice and examples of collaboration in action at the conference convened by ARC Advisory Group here June 25-27. ARC analysts supplied information on automation and other trends.

According to ARC analyst and end user speakers, collaboration among people, processes and technology is essential to the future of manufacturing. ARC president Andy Chatha discussed the changing global manufacturing landscape and the complex task of managing global manufacturing operations. China and India will become the biggest markets for most products in a few years, he said, but they will also be sources of both partnerships and competition: “You can make a product anywhere and sell a product anywhere. You can easily outsource most any task, [but] you have to beat the China product price and the India service price. The opportunity is huge, but so are the risks.”

To help manufacturers walk the line between opportunity and risk, Chatha identified what ARC sees as the top 10 automation business trends . These developments or areas to watch included the familiar (automation business is booming in developing countries) and what may be surprises (plant-to-business connectivity is becoming a priority; “operations management” platforms have emerged.) ARC also identified its top 10 enterprise software business trends , and top 7 product lifecycle management (PLM) and product design software business trends.

Many trends can be addressed or capitalized on with collaborative manufacturing strategies, said ARC. Such strategies include creating a highly collaborative corporate culture, embracing collaborative design and manufacturing, letting your customers help you develop new products, outsourcing non-core operations, and using benchmarks for continuous improvement. Technology specific strategies that enable collaboration include adopting platforms that simplify your technology architecture, connecting all applications using industry standards and Web services, and creating a common content and data library.

Jerry Gipson, director of the Engineering Solutions Technology Center of Dow Chemical and one of the presenters at the conference, said collaboration is an established best practice at Dow. “It’s a win-win that is delivering results, but [also] something that has to be worked on,” he said. Seek out partners to collaborate with, he says, “find what you can work on together, and commit—commit to forming a strategic relationship.”

The ARC-sponsored manufacturing forum in Hyderabad, India , is July 19-21, 2007. The ninth ARC forum in Asia will be July 24-25, 2007, in Tokyo . The next North American conference is in February 2008.

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Renee Robbins , editorial director, Control Engineering Weekly News
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