Digital Manufacturing Found a Champion

Alan MulallyI will be attending Hannover Messe in a couple of weeks, therefore you will read much about digital manufacturing leading up to that week, during that week, and recapping the week.

That is not a threat or a warning. It is meant to tempt and tease you. Even though Siemens has been touting the concept for many years, digital manufacturing is here, gaining steam, and solving real manufacturing problems.

I will have two clients at Hannover. While they are paying some of my expenses, in return I will get a ton of inside information. One company is Siemens. It always has a huge presence and unveils new products and technologies. I anticipate a deeper dive into digital manufacturing and the latest on TIA Portal, among other things. The other company is Dell. It has been holding roundtable discussions of thought leaders on a variety of topics. I’ll be moderating one at Hannover on Internet of Things. The lineup of participants promises to generate lively discussion.

One blog I follow in the space “Manufacturing Transformation” begun by Apriso, now part of Dassault Systemmes. This recent post on retired Boeing and Ford CEO Alan Mulally discussing digital manufacturing is instructive.

At Boeing, where he was CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, he pioneered the use of a new generation of computer-aided design (CAD) software that revolutionized manufacturing; then, before retiring as president and CEO of Ford Motor Company in mid-2014, he led the 112-year-old automobile maker’s turnaround from a US$17 billion loss at the end of 2006 to profitability by 2008 – without the aid of government bailouts.

Digital Manufacturing

[From the blog] For example, Mulally believes that the distinction between well-established companies that participate in more traditional industry sectors – ones that existed long before the start of the dot-com era – and so-called “new economy” companies heavily involved in the technology sector will become increasingly blurred.

“I find the whole discussion about digital versus non-digital companies very interesting, but it’s just not true,” he said in a wide-ranging interview exclusive to Compass. “Digital technology, the Internet, information processing and the ever-improving quality and miniaturization of sensors and robotics will enable the quality, productivity and transformation of all industries around the world. All companies will be brought together by databases and systems thinking. Individual companies simply will need to decide which things they are working on to add value in which industry. The enabling technologies will be exactly the same.”

It’s refreshing when someone of that stature “gets it.” The digital transformation beginning with design and product lifecycle management through operations & maintenance which includes what we call the Internet of Things, already provides competitive benefits to companies that have adopted it wisely.

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