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Machine Builders in my Factory?

As you know there are many changes in manufacturing operations today. These certainly relate to Operations Excellence, Continuous Innovation, Energy Management, even the Supply Chain and Customer Service world. There are technology changes and personnel changes. There are Global impacts as manufacturing companies compete in new regions and those same new regions sprout new manufacturers. And at the end of the day (or maybe the beginning?) there is a need for someone to build a specialized machine.

We have already seen the power of a converged (technologically) network. Ethernet/IP helps the controls world provide information to the IT world. We see this every day, where older proprietary networks are replaced by standard Ethernet. Here are some thoughts as they relate to specialized machine builders:

So, we have this technology that can unify us, Ethernet. Who knew that years ago I sold against Ethernet? But that was a different version. Today is new, with managed switches, managed services, and tomorrow is your new today.

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Made in the USA, again

October 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm PST

Finally, some good news. Amidst the standard fare of predictions of the inevitable decline and fall of US manufacturing, an interesting and encouraging 2011 report has been authored by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) called “Made in America, Again.”

According to the report, “Manufacturing is expected to return to America as China’s rising labor costs erase most savings from offshoring.” As US states become cheaper locations to manufacture goods compared to other developed countries, the report suggests that by 2015 manufacturing in some parts of the US will be just as economical as manufacturing in China.

The key reasons listed are: Read More »

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Steve Jobs Legacy for me – what’s important to you?

October 21, 2011 at 5:56 pm PST

This is a tough blog post for me. Like many folks in the US and around the world I too believe we have lost a genius. From a consumer products perspective Jobs disrupted the animation industry, disrupted the music industry, disrupted the phone industry and disrupted the laptop industry. Disruption for the last  three meant big wins for Apple -- big profits and big market share numbers.

We’re all wondering what was planned next and, despite assurances that Apple will continue to produce innovation and that innovation is in safe hands with the existing management, I have a feeling that the ‘Jobs spark’ will be hard to replicate in the future. I do have confidence that someone or ‘ones’ will appear in the future to continue the innovation the US has been famous for.

Steve Jobs  ‘Righting the Ship’ after he takes the Helm. He’s talking about his predecessor’s approach, not his! That’s why Gates etc. are laughing.

As Managing Editor of the Manufacturing Industry Blog I am allowed the occasional ‘Editorial’ only slightly related to the industry (well, that’s what I’ve decided, anyway!). So this blog is tough because I’m not going to address the innovation issue. I’m not going to address the need for improved education or more engineers or more math students (though they are sadly needed).

No, this blog is about priorities in life. I’ve learned, as many of us have, that Jobs allegedly  delayed getting surgery for his pancreatic cancer by three-quarters of a year, or thereabouts. It is reported that the new biography that’s due out on Monday has some of the details. Now I make no judgment on his choices, I’ll leave that to you as reader, but a “60 minutes” interview that airs on Sunday with biographer Walter Isaacson apparently confirms details that had been speculated upon or widely reported, including that Jobs might have been cured of his “slow-growing” cancer had he sought professional treatment sooner, rather than resorting to unconventional means.

Please don’t judge Steve Jobs, or me. But here’s a similar learning from both of us. I passed a certain age a while ago where I should have had my first colonoscopy. I delayed it. Too busy; not high enough priority; low risk factors; you name the excuses. Four years after that time, in 2010, my wife Julie forced me to have it done. We had a 6 year old and she had just given birth to our second child – a beautiful baby girl.

Unfortunately for me, It was bad news…

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Cisco and Intel : Enabling Collaboration and Innovation

October 18, 2011 at 4:55 pm PST

Intel blogger Sandhya Gorman is back this week to talk about Intel and Cisco leadership in innovation and collaboration .

“Two leaders I respect very much were featured at Oracle Open World 2011- Cisco CEO John Chambers and Intel GM Kirk Skaugen.  Both spoke on different days to separate audiences but the themes were strikingly synergistic.

Skaugen spoke about the explosion of data that will be sparked by the 15B connected devices expected to be in the hands of the worldwide population by 2015.  This year, connected devices produced 245 Exabytes (that’s a 10 followed by 18 zero’s) of data alone.  As we get to 15B devices, businesses will need to rely on the Cloud to manage all the data in order for them to focus their efforts on innovation and capturing market transitions.

Chambers expressed Cisco’s vision of collaboration and connectivity to foster innovation.  Businesses and consumers no longer will have to deal with 7 or 8 vendors, standalone devices and architectures to collaborate and realize the relevance of the all the exabytes of data we process.  Read appreciative comments on John’s presentation and watch it here

Interestingly, both Cisco and Intel are in a position of enabling collaboration and innovation from both a push and pull perspective.

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Get Ready to Play Games at Work

Welcome to the world of “gamification”

There is a lot that business can learn from the gaming industry and the floodgates are about to open. Make sure you watch this amazing trend!

Being an avid gamer myself, I’m very excited about how gaming is moving from play into work.  This fall, Cisco took our worldwide sales conference from an event where we used to fly 20,000 people into Vegas to hosting it online.  This virtual environment was a great place for us to use video, web sharing, badges and quizzes to inspire, collaborate and teach.

In this video, I join Stanford University communications professor Byron Reeves and Mary Jo Kim, CEO of “Shufflebrain”, to discuss this exciting new world of gaming.  Here is the video.

“Mixing work and play”

I also want to share this week’s Wall Street Journal piece about “mixing work and play.”  Can you really play on the job?  The article describes what is happening in some large companies like IBM and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd.

Many of the same motivations and tactics used in your kid’s Xbox game are being used in management training, data entry and just plain old brainstorming.  Show up for a meeting on time or complete an assignment?  You get a badge.

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