Tag: Manufacturing

Automation, or the use of robots and other artificial intelligence to perform tasks, has increased dramatically over the past couple decades. And while a Skynet scenario in the near future is unlikely, we are undoubtedly on the brink of an automation revolution.

John Stroup, President & CEO of Belden Inc., recently paid a visit to The Boeing Center to discuss some of the economic drivers for a revolution in automation. He believes that the United States is well-positioned for increased automation in manufacturing due to recent technological advances. In fact, the majority of manufacturing jobs lost in the last 10-15 years are a result of increased automation, not offshoring (as is commonly thought).

One of the economic factors Stroup credits for the automation revolution is the rise in minimum wages. As labor costs increase, companies look for ways to decrease spending, often turning to machines to replace their human counterparts. But despite the downward trend in manufacturing jobs, there has been a massive uptick in productivity due to robotics and other technology. He predicts that by 2025, the global average of tasks performed by robots will be around 25%, more than double what it is today. Stroup then went on to describe his experience at a “lights-out factory,” or a factory that doesn’t turn on the lights because it utilizes only robots and artificial intelligence.

Stroup went on to mention that Europe is often ahead of the curve in terms of automation due to relatively expensive labor. Regardless of one’s opinions about automation, we are likely to see its increased adoption as global labor costs rise and the cost of implementing AI falls.

For more supply chain digital content and cutting-edge research, check us out on the socials [@theboeingcenter] and our website [olin.wustl.edu/bcsci]

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A Boeing Center digital production

The Boeing Center

Supply Chain  //  Operational Excellence  //  Risk Management

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Technology is changing the landscape of supply chain at a breakneck pace, and organizations that are able to stay ahead of the curve often enjoy a significant advantage over their industry competitors. Digitization, cloud computing, big data, Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence are all major factors in shaping operational strategy. These manufacturing innovations have given rise to a trend dubbed Industry 4.0.

John Stroup, President and CEO of Belden Inc., paid a visit to The Boeing Center to share his wealth of knowledge, and to give a brief history of Industry 4.0, aka the Smart Factory. He explained that Industry 4.0, a term coined in Germany, is the fourth major iteration in manufacturing processes. “‘Smart Manufacturing,’ ‘Intelligent Factory,’ and ‘Factory of the Future’ all describe an intelligent, flexible, and dynamic production facility, where machinery and equipment will have the ability to improve processes through self-optimization and autonomous decision-making,” said Stroup. The major improvements from 3.0 to 4.0 are the ability to automate complex tasks (even remotely) and the access to data across the whole supply chain that allows for greater flexibility and connectivity.

Stroup went on to discuss the key characteristics of the Smart Factory and how innovations in digital technology have improved existing business models and enabled new ones. Such innovative technology allows for improved productivity, flexibility, and decision making, all of which benefit manufacturers and consumers alike.

For more supply chain digital content and cutting-edge research, check us out on the socials [@theboeingcenter] and our website [olin.wustl.edu/bcsci]

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A Boeing Center digital production

BCSCI

Supply Chain // Operational Excellence // Risk Management

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On a rainy day in Shanghai, Executive MBA class 46 visited the company of one of their classmates. Brad Li (EMBA-46 Kansas City), gave the class a rare tour of the ZTE R&D Center in the Pudong high-tech district. ZTE is among the top six smartphone manufacturers in the world. In the U.S., ZTE is number four in smartphone sales. We were greeted by ZTE staff and by a digital marquee in the front lobby welcoming Washington University in St. Louis.

Brad arranged for a three-stage campus visit. We first entered a large display room featuring a broad array of mobile devices, telecommunications systems, and enterprise solutions. ZTE’s Virtual Reality goggles, using the Axon series phone, were a big hit.

Next we toured the Design Center, where ZTE designers were working with different colors, textures, metals, and plastics, to create award-winning designs. Then the EMBAs suited up in lab coats to tour the testing labs, where engineers fine-tuned signal strength, audio sensitivity, and camera resolution.

Tim Rooney, EMBA-46, is captivated by the ZTE VR.

Tim Rooney, EMBA-46, is captivated by the ZTE VR.

The class was then ushered into the board room to sit down with several ZTE executives. Since it began manufacturing mobile devices in 1998, ZTE has produced over 700 million, and they currently have 72 million active users. ZTE is a Chinese company that is growing rapidly as it expands outside the borders of China. They currently are working with the top 50 carriers across the globe.

EMBA-46 after touring the testing labs at the ZTE R & D Center in Pudong.

EMBA-46 after touring the testing labs at the ZTE R & D Center in Pudong.

Not far from the ZTE campus, and after dodging a few rain drops, EMBA-46 chose from a selection of restaurants in Plaza 96 to grab some lunch. By mid afternoon, we made it up to Morton’s Steak House in the Pudong financial district for the residency’s Business Panel Discussion. Executives from Emerson, Honeywell, Hertz, and Vortorantim Group, discussed their impressions of China’s economy and life as an expat.

Guest blogger: Cory Barron, Student Services Manager, EMBA team




Two of the hottest vehicles in North America are being made in the St. Louis area, and on the morning of April 24, members of Olin’s Supply Chain & Operations Association saw the production process up close.

Guest blogger: Justin Tardiff, MBA 2016

GM’s Wentzville Assembly plant produces the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickup trucks, along with the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana. After adding a third shift this spring, the plant is presently producing around 930 vehicles a day, with a goal of pushing that number up to 990 vehicles. This increase in production is well warranted as demand has been very strong: in March, the Chevrolet Colorado crew cab was the fastest selling pickup truck in the United States.

A Chevrolet Express full-size van makes its way through an early station of general assembly.

A Chevrolet Express full-size van makes its way through an early station of general assembly.

After an overview of the plant’s history and supply chain structure, as well as safety procedures, the group donned orange vests and headed out onto the plant floor. Material Director Mark Rhoades and Material Planner Mary Beth Natoli led the group on a tour of general assembly, pointing out aspects of GMS: the company’s manufacturing process strategy.

The single assembly line produces vehicles ranging from cut-away full-size vans (essentially, a van with only the cab portion, with the rear transformed by aftermarket suppliers to a moving truck or shuttle bus) to crew cab pickup trucks with a number of engine sizes. With such a variety of vehicle types and few interchangeable parts, the plant relies on RF (radio frequency) technologies and part picking to ensure that the right parts are paired with the right vehicle at the right time, while maintaining lean inventories and identifying areas for savings.

The Olin Supply Chain & Operations Association  poses in front of a 2015 Chevrolet Colorado crew cab.

The Olin Supply Chain & Operations Association poses in front of a 2015 Chevrolet Colorado crew cab.

 

The tour concluded with a Q&A segment and an overview of future projects for Wentzville Assembly, along with a conversation about the challenges of collaboration between supply chain leaders and engineers to ensure a balance of quality and efficiency.

We are grateful to Mark Rhoades, Mary Beth Natoli, and the entire staff of GM Wentzville Assembly for their insight and hospitality.

 

 

 

Top image: 2015 Chevy Colorado, from www.caranddriver.com




You’re invited to attend the Operational Excellence Speaker Series Thursday, Feb. 26 featuring JoAnne Levy, vice president of Integrated Sourcing Solutions at ROi. The series is sponsored by the Boeing Center for Technology, Information & Manufacturing (BCTIM).

JoAnne Levy

JoAnne Levy

Levy will be presenting on “A Transformational Journey: Building an Integrated Supply Chain in Health Care.” For more information, please click here.

Levy earned her undergraduate, law and MBA degrees from WashU. She is the second executive in this year’s BCTIM Operational Excellence Speaker Series. Dan Friedman kicked off the series last month.

Dan Friedman OESs Image

Dan Friedman

Dan Friedman has 30 years of footwear industry experience and serves as Division President of Global Sourcing & International at Brown Shoe Company. Friedman combines oversight of Brown Shoe Co. Inc.’s worldwide sourcing operations with a responsibility for all branded wholesale product development and international.

To view Friedman’s presentation “Global Sourcing: Adapting to Transformational Changes in a Portfolio Footwear Company”, click here.

We hope you will join us for another inspiring talk and intellectual conversation!


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