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Santa’s Supply Chain – Get Something NEW and EXCITING!

December 22, 2010 at 12:20 pm PST

I was thinking about all the supply chain agility issues Santa would have this year – probably the same every year. Like the fact that he has to deliver to hundreds of millions of folks on one particular day of the year.

He’s been doing this for hundreds of years with only one workshop -- not located anywhere near any major distribution routes and with a small but obviously highly productive workforce. Add to this his orders come in only a few weeks before 25th December – some on the 24th! And somehow he hasn’t any carry over stock on the 26th. Miss the 25th and you’ve had it!

Downside of this squeeze is that you can often get that same ol’ pair of socks, that boring polyester tie or that colorful sweater that you’ll never wear. Maybe even a lump of coal if you’re really unlucky. So here’s a message to  Santa… Read More »

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Does Industrial Intelligence Make Your Plant Smarter?

Last month at the SPS/IPC/Drives Show, I spoke to a Vice President of Operations for a large semiconductor manufacturer. He is responsible for the global operation of approximately 20 wafer fabrication facilities. He glanced at our logo and my name badge and with a puzzled look asked the following simple question, “Why is Cisco at the SPS Drives show and how can Cisco help my operation?”

Well, my first inclination was to enthusiastically communicate our whole offer converged Industrial Intelligence and Manufacturing solutions, but I paused and replied, ” I’m not sure we can help you, but I have 7 years of previous experience working in your industry and I’m very interested in knowing …. What keeps you up at night these days?” The following is a summary of our conversation as it relates to his communicated supply chain, operational management, design and business value challenges. Are you experiencing the same headaches? And are they keeping you up at night? Does Cisco have a solution to cure those sleepless nights?  Read More »

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How do I keep iPads off of my factory floor?

This question was posed by the Manufacturing IT Director for a major Pharma producer, as part of an annual customer advisory board hosted jointly by Cisco and Rockwell Automation. One answer:  Good luck! …And why would you want to?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diHUhLh5VH4

Chet Namboodri talks about how consumer products are entering production and maintenance workflows and how “Rockwell and Cisco are in the forefront of enabling those solutions” during a recent customer innovation council session.

The migration of technology and applications from Consumer to Business to Industrial has become a well worn path, and the use of Smart Phones, Tablets, Mobile Video and other Operator Interfaces powering work flows and industrial intelligence has become a mainstay for Manufacturers.  Read More »

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Think your energy bill is high? Try a factory!

Energy cost and availability show up in every day conversations. What was your electricity bill last month? Mine was about $180. That pays for my lights, my TV’s, my stereo, my refrigeration, and probably some things I don’t know about. Maybe even timers to turn things on and off. But I know that some of my neighbors always ask what my bill was and then compare it to theirs. And given my Christmas lighting, likely my bill will be higher than theirs!

But in terms of energy consumption, I am just a tiny pea. Think about what our manufacturing plants use every day. They need to start up a process, they need to heat, refrigerate, do something to make it a product, transport, do what they do best, all to make a product we can go to a retailer and buy. And sometimes that product was built a continent away from us and then it needed to be shipped to a Distribution Center, so it could end up on the shelf in front of me.

So lets talk for a bit about energy and manufacturing plants. Many estimates are that manufacturing plants consume better than 50% of the power that is produced today. Just as we, consumers, are presented with offers from our utility company to “time sequence” our usage, manufacturing companies get more. Doesn’t it make sense for them to get all the information they can? Read More »

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GE Innovation – Thinking Outside of the Box (or Should that be ‘Square’?)

December 2, 2010 at 10:06 am PST

As I’m focusing more on Collaboration and Innovation and less on Supply Chain these days, I thought I’d share a story of ‘Ideation with you for my opening blog.  That’s because it’s usually one of the first steps in the product development lifecycle, and makes chronological sense when discussing innovation. In later blogs I’ll share some of the subsequent steps – you know: Selection, Prototyping, Validation, Development and finally, Launch. Different companies use different terms and different processes, but all good products start out with a good idea.

Let me take you back in time for a moment. When I was eight years old I noticed that the local UK comic magazine that I bought on a weekly basis was running competitions for readers to submit puzzles for other readers to solve. I was attracted to the Secret Service game that was one of the prize options, but what was my idea? How was I going to win if I didn’t have a good idea? Well, I decided that I’d submit a match puzzle -- you know we actually had lots of matches in the 60’s! This puzzle isn’t hard (please remember I was eight years old) and looked something like the picture above. The question was “How do you make a square by adding just one more match and not moving the others?”

Anyway, fairly obvious that you make a square by placing a forth match adjoining the other three to make a square with the bases as in the next picture (click ‘read more’ when finished with this page to see how). Well, I had the pride of seeing my puzzle published and, more importantly for me, I actually won the Secret Service game! But that’s not the point… Read More »

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