U.S. CEOs Finally Begin to Push the ‘Smart Manufacturing’ Edge

There’s an excitement among U.S. manufacturing CEOs that the country hasn’t experienced in a generation. Moves to “reshore” far-flung factories back to America, and an expansion of U.S. manufacturing on many fronts these days, underscore the welcome bounce that is returning to perhaps the most crucial sector of the nation’s economy.

But Thomas Kull, professor at Arizona State University, allowed that smart manufacturing “is laying down a challenge to U.S. creativity and initiative. The race to make the most from these technologies is on. Fortunately, the United States has a nice track record for ingenuity. Unfortunately, we also have a tendency toward complacency.”

Smart manufacturing already has helped some iconic American manufacturers such as Harley-Davidson compete more effectively. And the consensus is that other American companies and, collectively, the U.S. manufacturing base as a whole, can best press its budding smart-manufacturing edge in a handful of ways.

“Smart manufacturing helps get information off the manufacturing floor to use in decision-making.”

One is advanced technologies such as 3D printing, where local “additive manufacturing” can create massive advantages in the supply chain. Another is “augmented reality,” which uses digital imaging to help workers put things together—and may come in especially handy for the digital natives of the Millennial generation, Pradeep Amladi, vice president of manufacturing for SAP said.

A third area, McCutcheon adds, is use of sensors and smart automation to fine-tune the manufacturing process. And a fourth arena is big data and analytics, which have become the biggest recipient of IT investments by manufacturers these days. “The emphasis,” Rasmus says, “is on getting information off the manufacturing floor to use in decision-making.”

Related Articles:

What Every Company Can Learn from the Best Smart Manufacturers

Smart Manufacturing in the Mid-Size Company

How Smart Manufacturing Changes Everything


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