On Exponential Growth

When Technology Goes Viral, a post to this blog from May 2015, is reprised below. That post describes technologies that grow at such rates that they disrupt, or at least redefine, entire industries – or create new industries. When Technology Goes Viral, however, didn’t mention the element of surprise that so frequently accompanies viral growth. Take LEDs for example, which are currently disrupting the lighting industry. Or Facebook and other on-line media which just this month redefined American elections process. Take a fresh look at When Technology Goes Viral, this time with the element of surprise in mind.


 When Technology Goes Viralfrom 23 May 2015

Going Viral

Most of us have heard of a Facebook post or a YouTube video that “went viral” on the internet. Like a virus multiplying, one person sees the Facebook post or watches the video, then sends it on to several friends, who see the post or video, then … exponential growth. [1] Contrast that with the incremental way we normally expect growth to occur.exponential Growth Graph

This graph shows just how dramatic exponential growth can be. >>>

It’s not just videos. It is not uncommon for entire technologies to grow in an exponential manner for years or even decades. Here are some examples:

20th Century Examples

>> Electrification: In the United States, the first public electric generation and distribution facility began operating in New York City in 1882. By 1950, electrification was essentially complete across this country, serving a population of about 150 million people. Electric lighting was the original application, followed by a multitude of manufacturing opportunities like toasters and vacuum cleaners. Factories switched from prime movers and leather belts to electric motors.

>> Automobiles: Only a few hundred true automobiles existed in the entire world at the beginning of the 20th century. A century later, about 226 million were registered in the U.S. alone. [2] Ubiquitous personal rapid transportation redefined lifestyles and spawned more business models and value chains than I can count.

>> Cell Phones: The first cellular telephone was invented in 1973. Less than four decades later, in 2012, the number of cell phones in the U.S. alone was about 310 million, [3] a figure which approximated the total U.S. population.

>> Moore’s Law: In 1965, Gordon Moore, one of the founders of Intel, observed that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit every year. Ten years later, he raised that to doubling every two years. That amounts to 50 years of exponential growth – 50 years of relentlessly increasing computing power and 50 years of plummeting cost. Good-by IBM 1620. Hello iPhone 6.

Current Prospects

Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think, a recent book that one reviewer called “a godsend for those who suffer from Armageddon fatigue”, [4] describes eight technologies that may be on exponential growth paths just now. I’ve chosen a few of those technologies as examples that appear to be especially relevant to manufacturers:

>> Biotechnology: The current issue of Fast Company magazine named their choices for the 100 most creative people in business. Fast Company chose Charles Arntzen as the #1 most creative. Arntzen is a professor at Arizona State University. Using DNA structuring technology, he “engineered” a variety of tobacco plant to produce the medicine that successfully fought the Ebola outbreak in Africa in 2014. [5] Bio-based technology promises new and innovative routes to new fuels, industrial feedstocks, and agricultural products, not to mention medicines. The Department of Chemical Engineering where I trained has been renamed The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Biotech and its potential is that important.

>> Networks and Sensors: The internet of things is really coming. In manufacturing, that means real time information on all equipment and all work in process. Then, connect across the entire value chain so that everybody (man and machine) has actionable information on the current status of everything. Defect rates vanish. Efficiency soars. Inventories shrink.

>> Digital Manufacturing: I have heard 3-D printing described as “neat, but not really useful”. Hmmm. 3-D printing allows products to be manufactured “hands off”, directly from AutoCAD drawings, with no materials waste. Today, cycle times are too long and equipment costs are too high for most routine production – although that is changing fast. For prototypes and complex special orders, not so; especially when exotic materials are involved.

SpaceX Dragon

This photo shows the Space-X Dragon manned space flight vehicle and two of its Super Draco rocket motors. The rocket motors are produced by 3-D printing. >>>

So What?

Exponential technologies offer untold opportunities to create new products, new efficiencies and new markets. At the same time, exponential technologies disrupt. Case in point: cell phones have exploded, while hardwired telephone services are wondering what happened to their market. These opportunities and threats of disruption apply all along your value chain. That’s one more reason why today’s manufacturers need to maintain a fully zoomed out assessment of the entire globalized context within which your business operates.

Chinese character - Crisis

 

<<< The Chinese character for “crisis” combines the characters for “opportunity” and for “danger”.

 

Chuck at the PacificThoughtful comments and experience reports are always appreciated.

…  Chuck Harrington (Chuck@JeraSustainableDevelopment.com)

This blog and associated website (www.JeraSustainableDevelopment.com) are intended as a resource for smaller manufacturers in the pursuit of Sustainability. While editorial focus is on smaller manufacturers, all interested readers are welcome.

Image credits: Exponential growth graph – creative commons via Wikipedia, Dragon spacecraft photo – SpaceX (creative commons), Chinese character – creative commons via Wikipedia


 

[1] For more on exponential growth, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exponential_growth

[2] Automotive stats from http://www.statista.com/statistics/183505/number-of-vehicles-in-the-united-states-since-1990/

[3] Cell phone stats from www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/mobile-technology-fact-sheet/

[4] Diamandis, Peter and Steven Kotler, Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think, Simon & Schuster (2012), especially Part 2, page 49f

[5] “The 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2015: #1 – Charles Arntzen, For Fighting Ebola With Tobacco”, Fast Company, June 2015 issue, page 47f

Manufacturing in 21st Century America

The global economy, which includes the U.S. and its manufacturers, is in a whirlwind of transformational change. The scope and dimensions of this is difficult to grasp. We’re Not in the 20th Century Anymore, Toto, a post to this blog from a year ago, offers some thoughts on where to start. … C.H.


We’re Not in the 20th Century Anymore, Toto – from 1 May 2015

An Emerging View of Manufacturing in the 21st Century

Dreamstime - Crystal BallThe Industrial Age in America – a time in which the mass production of goods provided the economic focus of the country – declined during the final decades of the 20th century and swooned as the 21st century began. This isn’t a cyclic matter: 20th century manufacturing isn’t going to come back. Instead, the end of the Industrial Age in America is part of a transformation that is as sweeping as the Industrial Revolution was, when industry replaced agriculture as this nation’s economic focus.

Keep in mind that, in 1870, 70% – 80% of America’s working population was employed in agriculture. As of 2008, less than 2% was directly employed in agriculture. [1] Never the less, America’s farms today produce much more than ever before. America will continue to manufacture tangible products – lots of them. The way that America manufactures those products will change as dramatically as farming has changed.

“… right now we are going through a once-in-a-century transformation in business that is throwing out all of the existing rules.” [2]

This transformation is powered by a confluence of potent change agents, which might be loosely grouped as Globalization, Sustainability, Technology and Demographics & Trends. Globalization, Sustainability and Demographics & Trends provide insights as to the rapidly expanding context within which even quite small manufacturers must operate. Technology provides the means for transformation.

A few thoughts on the globalized context within 21st century manufacturers must operate:

>> Competition – Competitors and potential competitors exist worldwide, with more coming every day. So do suppliers and potential suppliers. Likewise, customers and potential customers. And these competitors / suppliers / customers are quickly becoming increasingly sophisticated in all aspects of globalized business.

>> Population – Since the advent of truly viable birth control, birth rates have dropped significantly, especially in economically developed nations. As a result, populations are aging. At the same time, the participation on women in all aspects of commerce has increased dramatically. Per capita GDP is increasing, notably in developing countries, resulting in more global middle class buying power.

>> Commerce is global / Politics are local – While competition is global, governments everywhere have incentive to favor their own. Issues including jobs, access to resources, taxation, entitlements and property rights continue to be contentious.

>> Financial System – The global financial system, as it exists today, is a hodge-podge of remnants from the Bretton Woods accords, socialist notions from the soviet era as well as from western nations, fiat (rather than hard) currencies, instantaneous globalized trading in currencies and financial derivatives, not to mention a diverse array of banking institutions. All of this is hardly a recipe for international financial stability.

Some thoughts on 21st century manufacturing operations:

Atomic physicist Niels Bohr once said that “prediction is very difficult, especially about the future”.  Actually, it’s the being correct part that is difficult. The following are extrapolations from American manufacturing’s current situation. We’ll all see what actually happens as the 21st century unfolds.

>> Products: To beg the obvious, labor related costs in economically developed countries are much higher than in less developed countries. To be globally competitive, products manufactured in developed countries will require significantly greater intangible aspects, as opposed to the simply tangible. Above all, products need be clearly differentiable.

>> Emphasis on Return on Capital Employed (RoCE): Manufacturing is capital intensive, especially concerning fixed assets, when compared to other modes of enterprise. Accordingly, financial viability depends on sustainable RoCE, taken across the business cycle, rather than on profits per se. This change in point of view fosters longer term thinking in many respects. Organizational structure and financing are not least of these.

>> The Electro-Mechanical Spectrum: A recent essay [3] discussed a trend in machinery from the mechanical to the electronic. The Tesla automobile serves as a familiar example. Unmanned space vehicles offer another. The more electronic machines offer obvious advantages, including reliability and Moore’s Law initial costs. Perhaps the most important advantage is that electronic machines have a significant software component. For this reason, machines can be improved, or even retasked, through software changes. Such machines can actually improve over time, rather than just depreciate.

>> Innovation: There is nothing static about the future. 21st century manufacturers must consistently offer differentiable products that please customers while generating satisfactory returns. This requires continuous and systematic innovation in products, operating processes and, especially, business models. A prior essay looks at all three of these modes of innovation. [4]


There is a lot more to manufacturing in the 21st century than a single essay can even hint at. The changes involved in this “once-in-a-century transformation” are of almost seismic magnitude. And change will beget more change, even more rapidly. Stand by.

Chuck ReadingThoughtful comments and experience reports are always appreciated.

…  Chuck Harrington

(Chuck@JeraSustainableDevelopment.com)

This blog and associated website (www.JeraSustainableDevelopment.com) are intended as a resource for smaller manufacturers in the pursuit of Sustainability. While editorial focus is on smaller manufacturers, all interested readers are welcome. New blog posts are published weekly.

Photo Credit: © Shutter999 | Dreamstime.comCrystal Ball With A Bar Chart Photo


[1] Figures from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agriculture_in_the_United_States

[2] Tien Tzuo, CEO of Zuora, quoted in Fortune magazine. http://fortune.com/2015/04/27/tien-tzuo-starting-your-own-business/. Zuora is a start-up business that is pioneering subscription based business models. For more on Zuora, see www.Zuora.com.

[3] http://jerasustainabledevelopment.com/2014/11/15/the-electro-mechanical-spectrum/

[4] http://jerasustainabledevelopment.com/2014/11/29/three-modes-of-innovation/

 

 

Betting the Ranch on Innovation

Everybody knows that innovation is the key to continuing success in this globalized 21st century. But innovation is tough. Innovation requires change. And innovation entails risks. Sometimes, very big risks.

Today, I watched Elon Musk’s Space-X attempt to land a rocket roughly 15 stories tall on a barge in the Pacific Ocean, in heavy seas. The attempt failed. But an earlier attempt on land was successful. That Space-X will soon have the tremendous competitive advantage of reusable booster rockets becomes is becoming increasingly likely. Space-X innovated. Now, the established players – Boeing / Lockheed and the Russian space agency — can try to catch up.

The Courage to Innovate, a post from two years ago, talks about Ford’s gutsy innovation in converting its F-150 pick-up truck line to aluminum bodies. It is worth repeating, now that the success of Ford’s innovation has been demonstrated. Now, the rest of the automotive industry can try to catch up.


The Courage to Innovate – From 16 January 2014


Judgment and Courage


This blog often discusses innovation as a route to thriving in perpetuity in today’s globalized manufacturing economy. Innovative products, innovative production and business processes, as well as innovative business models all count. But innovating is often expensive and risky. The perceived opportunity — opportunity to gain or opportunity to avoid loss — must substantially outweigh the anticipated costs and the very real risk of failure. Taking innovation to market requires judgment. Moreover, taking innovation to market requires courage.


The Ford F-150 Truck


Ford F-150 TruckThis week (13 January 2014), Ford Motor Company unveiled the 2015 models in Ford’s F-150 light truck line. The new models offer a list of innovative features, most prominently the extensive use aluminum in place of steel in the truck’s body. This change in materials results in trucks that are about 700 pounds (about 15%) lighter than corresponding 2014 models.


The significantly lighter weight offers advantages from several points of view:


>> Fuel consumption is expected to improve to about 30 miles per gallon, from the 23 miles per gallon the fuel – thriftiest 2014 F-150 model offers. Critically, the 2014 models position Ford to comply with — or exceed — the government’s C.A.F.E. fuel economy requirements as they roll out over the years from now to 2025.


>> With the lighter weight body, an F-150 fitted with an equivalent power train, should significantly outperform older models in acceleration, carrying capacity and almost everything else light truck drivers care about. 700 pounds is a lot of weight to not carry around every place the truck goes, through its entire service life.


>> The lighter weight allows design engineers to make more weight reductions in the future. Less weight means less stress on the suspension, the drive train, shock absorbers, tires (and on and on), so lighter components may prove to be practical.


Ford and the F-150 series


As impressive as all of this is, it is prudent to consider what is at stake for Ford. The F-150 series isn’t some isolated product or minor product line. The F-150 series has been America’s best selling truck line for 37 consecutive years, and America’s bestselling vehicle (cars or trucks) for 32 consecutive years. The F-150 series accounts for over a third of Ford’s North American revenues and, due to high per vehicle margins, and disproportionate share of the profits. One doesn’t cook a golden goose like the F-150 series.


Further, manufacturing a primarily aluminum vehicle is substantially different from manufacturing a steel vehicle. Metal cutting and forming equipment need be changed out. Joining aluminum parts requires much different methods, tools and so on. Employees must be retrained. Maintenance procedures need be revised. New supplier logistics need be arranged. And on and on. Manufacturing people know how long the list of changes must be. Two manufacturing plants are involved, sharing a 750,000 vehicle per year production schedule.


Clearly, the production change-over must be seamless — the new models have to roll out right on schedule. And the new trucks have to be flawless, because the entire automotive world will be watching — especially GM, Chrysler and Toyota, all of whom would love to take market share from the F-150 series.


F-150 or F-15?


Then there is market acceptance. The F-150 buyer community has been remarkably faithful for decades. If the buyer community likes the new truck, they will likely remain faithful. If they don’t like it, the goose is cooked. The major worry is whether or not the new F-150 will be perceived as Built Ford Tough. Beer cans are made of aluminum. But so are F-15 fighter jets. Technically, the right grades of aluminum are quite tough enough, as has been proven in many demanding applications. The question isn’t technology — its perception.


Betting the Ranch on a Green Product


Compliance with the government’s C.A.F.E. fuel economy standards require major changes to American cars and trucks. The new F-150 series is a really major initiative on Ford’s part. Success will reconfirm Ford’s leadership in the light truck segment. The aluminum – based design and manufacturing technology will be ported to Ford’s other car and truck lines. Buyers will enjoy better products that consume considerably less fuel.


2014 AEO ER Fig 12The reduction in fuel consumption will result in lower environmental emissions. It will also help balance America’s petroleum consumption with petroleum production. As the chart labeled “Figure 12” indicates, America imported 60% of the petroleum it consumed in 2005. By 2012, the gap reduced to 40%, with further reduction to about 20% expected within this decade. This improvement is due to increased crude oil production (primarily from “fracking”), to already improving vehicle fuel consumption efficiency, and to redirection of many non-vehicle uses of petroleum to natural gas (residential heating, for example).


Bill Ford, Ford’s Executive Chairman and Henry Ford’s great-grandson, is a confirmed Greenie. The environmental emissions reductions that the new F-150 series pioneers are, in my opinion, are a big part of Bill’s endorsement of all of this.


Alan Mulally is Ford’s CEO. He has led a remarkable turn-around since coming to Ford from Boeing in 2006. As an aeronautical engineer, he knows a lot about aluminum in critical applications. And he understands from the importance of executing this product change-over with a precision rivaling that of Tesla and Elon Musk.


Why lead the industry in the change to aluminum? Why not wait and let somebody else dare the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”? Because leaders lead. That’s what they do, and that’s what they are.


Chuck - Red RocksThoughtful comments and experience reports are always appreciated.

…  Chuck Harrington (Chuck@JeraSustainableDevelopment.com)

P.S: Contact me when your organization is serious about prospering in the globalized 21st century … CH

This blog and associated website (www.JeraSustainableDevelopment.com) are intended as a resource for smaller manufacturers in the pursuit of Sustainability. While editorial focus is on smaller manufacturers, all interested readers are welcome. New blog posts are published weekly.

We’re Not in the 20th Century Anymore, Toto

The 200th Essay

An Emerging View of Manufacturing in the 21st Century

Capture - BLS Manufacturing Firms 2001 - 2012The Industrial Age in America – a time in which the mass production of goods provided the economic focus of the country – declined during the final decades of the 20th century and swooned as the 21st century began. This isn’t a cyclic matter: 20th century manufacturing isn’t going to come back. Instead, the end of the Industrial Age in America is part of a transformation that is as sweeping as the Industrial Revolution was, when industry replaced agriculture as this nation’s economic focus.

Keep in mind that, in 1870, 70% – 80% of America’s working population was employed in agriculture. As of 2008, less than 2% was directly employed in agriculture. [1] Never the less, America’s farms today produce much more than ever before. America will continue to manufacture tangible products – lots of them. The way that America manufactures those products will change as dramatically as farming has changed.

“… right now we are going through a once-in-a-century transformation in business that is throwing out all of the existing rules.” [2]

This transformation is powered by a confluence of potent change agents, which might be loosely grouped as Globalization, Sustainability, Technology and Demographics & Trends. Globalization, Sustainability and Demographics & Trends provide insights as to the rapidly expanding context within which even quite small manufacturers must operate. Technology provides the means for transformation.

A few thoughts on the globalized context within 21st century manufacturers must operate:

>> Competition – Competitors and potential competitors exist worldwide, with more coming every day. So do suppliers and potential suppliers. Likewise, customers and potential customers. And these competitors / suppliers / customers are quickly becoming increasingly sophisticated in all aspects of globalized business.

>> Population – Since the advent of truly viable birth control, birth rates have dropped significantly, especially in economically developed nations. As a result, populations are aging. At the same time, the participation on women in all aspects of commerce has increased dramatically. Per capita GDP is increasing, notably in developing countries, resulting in more global middle class buying power.

>> Commerce is global / Politics are local – While competition is global, governments everywhere have incentive to favor their own. Issues including jobs, access to resources, taxation, entitlements and property rights continue to be contentious.

>> Financial System – The global financial system, as it exists today, is a hodge-podge of remnants from the Bretton Woods accords, socialist notions from the soviet era as well as from western nations, fiat (rather than hard) currencies, instantaneous globalized trading in currencies and financial derivatives, not to mention a diverse array of banking institutions. All of this is hardly a recipe for international financial stability.

Some thoughts on 21st century manufacturing operations:

Dreamstime - Crystal BallAtomic physicist Niels Bohr once said that “prediction is very difficult, especially about the future”.  Actually, it’s the being correct part that is difficult. The following are extrapolations from American manufacturing’s current situation. We’ll all see what actually happens as the 21st century unfolds.

>> Products: To beg the obvious, labor related costs in economically developed countries are much higher than in less developed countries. To be globally competitive, products manufactured in developed countries will require significantly greater intangible aspects, as opposed to the simply tangible. Above all, products need be clearly differentiable.

>> Emphasis on Return on Capital Employed (RoCE): Manufacturing is capital intensive, especially concerning fixed assets, when compared to other modes of enterprise. Accordingly, financial viability depends on sustainable RoCE, taken across the business cycle, rather than on profits per se. This change in point of view fosters longer term thinking in many respects. Organizational structure and financing are not least of these.

>> The Electro-Mechanical Spectrum: A recent essay [3] discussed a trend in machinery from the mechanical to the electronic. The Tesla automobile serves as a familiar example. Unmanned space vehicles offer another. The more electronic machines offer obvious advantages, including reliability and Moore’s Law initial costs. Perhaps the most important advantage is that electronic machines have a significant software component. For this reason, machines can be improved, or even retasked, through software changes. Such machines can actually improve over time, rather than just depreciate.

>> Innovation: There is nothing static about the future. 21st century manufacturers must consistently offer differentiable products that please customers while generating satisfactory returns. This requires continuous and systematic innovation in products, operating processes and, especially, business models. A prior essay looks at all three of these modes of innovation. [4]


There is a lot more to manufacturing in the 21st century than a single essay can even hint at. The changes involved in this “once-in-a-century transformation” are of almost seismic magnitude. And change will beget more change, even more rapidly. Stand by.

Chuck - Blue SweaterThoughtful comments and experience reports are always appreciated.

…  Chuck Harrington

(Chuck@JeraSustainableDevelopment.com)

P.S: Contact me when your organization is serious about pursuing Sustainability … CH

This blog and associated website (www.JeraSustainableDevelopment.com) are intended as a resource for smaller manufacturers in the pursuit of Sustainability. While editorial focus is on smaller manufacturers, all interested readers are welcome. New blog posts are published on weekly.

Photo Credit: © Shutter999 | Dreamstime.comCrystal Ball With A Bar Chart Photo


[1] Figures from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agriculture_in_the_United_States

[2] Tien Tzuo, CEO of Zuora, quoted in Fortune magazine. http://fortune.com/2015/04/27/tien-tzuo-starting-your-own-business/. Zuora is a start-up business that is pioneering subscription based business models. For more on Zuora, see www.Zuora.com.

[3] http://jerasustainabledevelopment.com/2014/11/15/the-electro-mechanical-spectrum/

[4] http://jerasustainabledevelopment.com/2014/11/29/three-modes-of-innovation/

 

 

Constraints and the Smaller Manufacturer

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP)

The MEP is an alliance between the National Institute for Standards and Technology (part of the U.S. Government’s Department of Commerce) and a fleet of local manufacturing assistance partner centers, located in all 50 states. Local MEP centers are organizationally diverse. Many are associated with educational institutions. All focus on serving smaller manufacturing businesses. [1]

The NIST monitors the performance of local MEP centers through surveys of MEP clients. For the governments FY 2014, NIST reports that the MEPs served 30,131 clients, helping those manufacturing firms reduce costs by $1.2 billion, create 18,789 new jobs and retain over twice as many more. [2]

NIST also surveys client firms about their business concerns (“challenges”). The latest survey garnered 6,069 responses from 8,166 client firms selected to participate. That survey presented a list of nine challenges. Those surveyed were asked to identify which three of the nine challenges they deemed most pressing for their firm over the next three years. Each of the nine challenges was “scored” by the percentage of the respondents that indentified that challenge with one of their three checkmarks. [3]

The Top Three Responses

#1 – Continuous Improvement (69.6%) – In my view, continuous improvement programs need be built on a sound operating environment. The quick gut check is to assess your accident rate, downtime, absentee rate and product quality incidents. If these factors aren’t where they ought to be, the operating environment in your firm isn’t “sound”, hence initiatives like Lean, Six Sigma or ISO will have little chance for success.

To correct an unsound operating environment, my usual recommendation is to start with safety. A good safety program is foundational to a sound operating environment. See On Safety and Sustainability: http://jerasustainabledevelopment.com/2013/10/24/on-safety-and-sustainability/

Equipment reliability usually comes next. This requires a structured maintenance program. See Structured Maintenance: http://jerasustainabledevelopment.com/2012/01/12/structured-maintenance/

Once the four “gut check” issues – accident rate, downtime, absentee rate and product quality incidents – compare well with other factories, then initiatives like the introduction of Lean concepts have a good probability of success. See Thriving with Lean: http://jerasustainabledevelopment.com/2013/09/05/thriving-with-lean/

#2 – Growth (53.4%) – In my view, it is necessary to formulate a working definition of “growth”: First, should top line growth (revenues) be emphasized, or should growth in profits be emphasized? Second, does the reason that your firm didn’t sell one more unit or earn one more dollar last year lie within the factory walls or without?

From here, actions can be taken to determine, address and correct whatever is currently constraining throughput (defined as goods and services invoiced). Once a constraint is relieved, the next constraint appears. (Otherwise, shipments would become infinite, wouldn’t they?). The process of identifying and removing active constraints continues indefinitely, within the factory walls, within the supply chain or in the market.

Theory of Constraints (TOC) provides insight as to locating constraints to growth. Lean manufacturing techniques, market analysis and value chain assessment are among the tools available for relieving constraints as they appear. Start with Creating and Capturing Value: http://jerasustainabledevelopment.com/2014/06/25/creating-and-capturing-value/ and Systems and Constraints: http://jerasustainabledevelopment.com/2013/09/26/systems-and-constraints/ [4]

#3 – Product Innovation (47.9%) – Management sage Peter Drucker said “If you don’t understand innovation, you don’t understand business.” Innovation is that important. But product innovation is only part of the picture. Innovation in other areas, including process innovation and, especially, business model innovation, also matter. Start with Three Modes of Innovation: http://jerasustainabledevelopment.com/2014/11/29/three-modes-of-innovation/ and On Transience and Innovation: http://jerasustainabledevelopment.com/2014/04/02/on-transcience-and-innovation/

For Smaller Manufacturers:

The NIST’s survey provides useful insight as to what manufacturing managers’ concerns and priorities are. Local MEP offices provide one avenue for addressing those priorities.

However, each manufacturer has its own set of concerns and priorities. My preference is to establish an individual plan for each manufacturer. That plan takes a systems approach by determining the firm’s current situation, establishing an operating system framework and formulating meaningful objectives. Then methods for identifying and tools for addressing the constraints to achieving those objectives are established. From my point of view, diagnosis comes before prescription. And the prescription – the tools for addressing the constraints as they arise – changes as one constraint follows another.

Chuck - Pacific 3Thoughtful comments and experience reports are always appreciated.

 

…  Chuck Harrington (Chuck@JeraSustainableDevelopment.com)

P.S: Contact me when your organization is serious about confronting 21st century realities.  — CH

This blog and associated website (www.JeraSustainableDevelopment.com) are intended as a resource for smaller manufacturers in the pursuit of Sustainability. While editorial focus is on smaller manufacturers, all interested readers are welcome. New blog posts are published weekly.


[1] Locate the MEP center nearest you at: http://ws680.nist.gov/mepmeis/FindYourLocalCenter.aspx

[2] The figures presented in this paragraph are from: http://www.nist.gov/mep/upload/MEP-PARTNERING-IMPACTS-2014-Final.pdf

[3] For more information on this survey, see: http://nistmep.blogs.govdelivery.com/keeps-night/

[4] Quality expert Bill Dettmer wrote an exceptional paper that introduces Theory of Constraints as a diagnostic tool used with Lean techniques as means to confront constraints. Bill’s paper is available at: http://www.goalsys.com/books/documents/TOCandLeanPaper-rev.1.pdf