Manufacturing

Showing 1-20 of 67

Why High-Tech Commoditization Is Accelerating

Technology-intensive product manufacturers, automakers, or white goods makers used to be able to capitalize on their longstanding engineering and design leadership to cement their positions. But that’s no longer the case. Today, young upstarts in many product segments, especially from China, can develop world-class design and production capabilities in a short period of time. In some cases, they are closing gaps with long-established incumbents and becoming market leaders within a decade.

Can IT Be Too in Sync With Business Strategy?

IT alignment can produce inertia — unless it’s accompanied by the right culture. Sure, closely aligning IT with the rest of a company’s strategy can cut costs and improve the ability to collect data, facilitating the creation of early-warning systems and operational dashboards. But a less regimented approach has its place, too, allowing responses to changing business and economic conditions that are swift and creative.

Following the Digital Thread: The Digital Thread Takes Flight

  • Video | Runtime: 0:06:17

  • Read Time: 1 min 

In Part 8 of our eight-part video series, we examine how the digital thread — and its companion, the digital twin — could revolutionize not only the way we design and develop products, but the way we manufacture and service them as well.

advertisement

Following the Digital Thread: Creating a Smart Part and Managing Its Life Cycle

  • Video | Runtime: 0:06:37

  • Read Time: 1 min 

In Part 2 of our eight-part video series, we explore how technology affects product and component design. The digital thread not only streamlines product design via the ability to digitally scan an existing part or design a new one using computer-aided design (CAD) software, it can also accelerate the development process by affording previously unattainable levels of transparency and input.

advertisement

Following the Digital Thread: Revolutionizing Supply Chains

  • Video | Runtime: 0:05:53

  • Read Time: 2 min 

In Part 1 of our eight-part video series, we explore the real power of the digital thread, which lies not just in a “cradle-to-grave” virtual rendering of the manufacturing process, but also in the possibility of taking the lessons learned from analyzing product performance and applying them to future generations of the manufacturing process and product design.

Manufacturers Can Also Win in the Sharing Economy

  • Interview
  • Read Time: 8 min 

The sharing economy isn’t all bad news for manufacturers of big-ticket items such as cars. Research from Carnegie Mellon and UC Berkeley says that manufacturers will sometimes be able to charge higher prices to customers who are planning to rent out those goods. In a Q&A, one researcher says that when there’s heterogeneity in the market, meaning both a high-usage population and a low-usage population, circumstances are ripe for “a win-win-win for the borrower, the owner, and the manufacturer.”

Winning With Open Process Innovation

Managers in manufacturing companies often keep process innovation activities tightly under wraps. Some companies have good reasons for keeping process innovations concealed. However, the authors’ research suggests that for most manufacturers, such defensiveness deprives companies of a valuable source of ideas for productivity improvement. Many manufacturers, they argue, can benefit from sharing process innovations rather than keeping them secret.

Leading to Become Obsolete

Zhang Ruimin, the CEO and chairman of the Qingdao, China, white goods giant Haier Group Corp., has done what most chief executives dare not even dream about. He blew up nearly the entire administrative structure of a global manufacturing enterprise, eliminating the 10,000 management jobs that once held it together, and reshaped the organization into a network of entrepreneurial ventures run by employees.

advertisement

Supply Chains Built for Speed and Customization

Thanks to emerging technologies like 3-D printing, manufacturers can offer consumers customized products and do so with unprecedented speed. Intrigued by a new product you saw in a YouTube video? Well, someday soon you may be able to personalize it, order it via the company’s website, and have it in your hands in a matter of days. But to enable this phenomenon at scale, an entirely new model of supply chain is required.

The Importance of Structured Management Practices

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 4 min 

New research suggests that a particular set of management practices, which the authors call structured management, is tightly linked to performance and success. For instance, consistent hiring, performance review, and incentive practices are as important to productivity as research and development investments, and more than twice as important as IT implementation. The research shows that manufacturing plants using more structured management practices have higher productivity and profitability.

From the Archives: How to Reshore Manufacturing Successfully

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 3 min 

The Trump administration has an aggressive stance about finding new American manufacturing jobs, which could pressure some companies to consider bringing overseas operations back to the U.S. But the task is complex. “While the macroeconomic data on comparative labor and factor costs may be compelling, the actual process of reshoring — bringing assembly work back from abroad — is hard work,” wrote Harvard Business School’s Willy C. Shih, in a 2014 article in MIT Sloan Management Review.

Monitor, Measure, Incentivize: Is Management as Simple as That?

Nicholas Bloom, William Eberle Professor of Economics at Stanford University, conducted an extensive study of 30,000 US factories, and found that two practices, underpinned by innovative software and IT systems, stand out in highly effectively managed operations: monitoring and incentives.

Showing 1-20 of 67