Year: 2016

GE Plant Tour: Shaping the Factory of the Future

Nearly 100 members of the Manufacturing Leadership Council gathered in Greenville, South Carolina last week to see first-hand how General Electric’s 1.5-million square foot heavy duty gas turbine factory is embracing digitization, a transformational effort that involves an array of new technologies, significant process changes, and, above all, cultural change at the 48-year old site. ML Council members toured the gas turbine factory, where 50 and 60 Hz gas turbines undergo final assembly and testing, as well as GE’s two-year old Advanced Manufacturing Works incubator facility, whose mission is to be a “bridge” between new technology and production ideas,...

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Updating Lean for the Manufacturing 4.0 Era

With the current intense focus on IoT, digital transformation, and real-time data leading to transformative change, it sometimes seems as if manufacturers have moved on from more traditional and continuous approaches to operational improvement—such as lean. But, at a recent Manufacturing Leadership Council plant tour and roundtable discussion at the Avnet, Inc., Global Solutions Center in Chandler, AZ, Avnet operations and supply chain leaders and 40 members of the ML Council made it clear that continuous improvement and the adoption of lean culture and processes remain bedrock manufacturing strategies. But they also made it equally clear that lean must...

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Dow Plant Tour: the Right Formula for Safety is One Part Culture, One Part Science

Manufacturing Leadership Council members gathered last week in Freeport, Texas, to tour The Dow Chemical Company’s massive production facility and to hear how Dow has achieved world-class safety performance, a feat that is rooted as much in culture as it is in science and good procedure. The Freeport site, located about an hour’s drive south of Houston, is the largest integrated chemical manufacturing complex in the Western Hemisphere. Known as Dow’s Texas Operations, the facility was founded in 1940 and was the world’s first plant to extract magnesium from seawater. Today, the integrated site consists of 65 manufacturing units...

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IBM Plant Tour: Becoming a Data-Driven Manufacturing Enterprise

There’s no doubt that the tools that enable big data and advanced analytics applications—everything from data management and storage platforms to data visualization tools—have, in recent years, matured dramatically, becoming faster, cheaper, and more powerful. This has opened up a world of new opportunities for manufacturing organizations to understand and optimize their operations in ways that previously were impossible, by gaining insights from the massive amounts of information generated by plant operations and supply chains and quickly acting on those insights. But how do manufacturing organizations go about taking advantage of those opportunities to make better decisions faster and create agile work cultures? Is it simply a matter of investing in and deploying advanced big data and analytics technologies? Or is there more to it than that? Last week, members of the Manufacturing Leadership Council visited and toured the Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, campus of IBM, where thousands of team members build high-end storage, power supplies, information appliances, and other products and where the company is in the midst of just such a transition to an agile, data-drive decision-making culture. IBM leaders in Guadalajara—led by the ML Council’s host Ron Castro, vice president of operations and supply chain execution—emphasized that truly embracing analytics and data-driven decision-making involves much more than simply implementing tools. It is a journey—much like the embrace of lean thinking for continuous improvement—and it requires cultural change,...

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