The Future of Manufacturing Is a Journey, Not a Destination, SMS Speakers Say

The concept of a never-ending journey, rather than an endpoint, serves as a powerful mantra for the U.S. manufacturing sector’s comeback.

Panel: Making Smart Manufacturing Work

Three veterans offer their experiences, observations and insights on implementing smart manufacturing.

Who: Raj Batra, President of Industry Automation at Siemens

What: A leader in automation technology products engineered and manufactured for all industrial sectors.

“Eighty percent of manufacturing costs are predetermined in the product design phase. So to not be able to simulate design and tie that to manufacturing processes means really missing out on something.”

On the forces driving Smart Manufacturing: Product complexity has doubled over the past 15 years. The number of sellable products has gone up by about 250 percent and the time-to-market—the whole innovation cycle to bring products to market—has been drastically reduced. We also have [demand for] mass customization, productivity and efficiency. In traditional manufacturing, those were at opposite ends of the spectrum—and there was a lot of cost to be able to accomplish them. Our view is that the only way to do this is to digitize the enterprise. You simply have to talk about the real and virtual worlds, to simulate product design and tie that to manufacturing technologies, because anyone who studies manufacturing process knows that 80 percent of manufacturing costs are predetermined in the product design phase. So to not be able to simulate design and tie that to manufacturing processes means really missing out on something.

On recognizing opportunities: It’s always interesting to me that in the U.S. we’re somewhat comfortable aging factory assets. If you have an iPhone that’s more than six months old, you really feel outdated and out of touch, but we’ll have an automation asset at the heart of productivity enhancement that is 25 years old. You simply can’t get productivity out of a 286 computer, which, in some cases, is the equivalent of what you have, maybe even one step before that. There are big productivity gains to be had through automating asset modernization.


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