MMS Blog

Case Study: What Is the Cost of Lost Information?

The problem with “lost” information is that it often isn’t truly lost. Much the opposite, bits and pieces of information are commonly found everywhere in the shop—you just have to know who to ask and where to look for it. This tribal knowledge can be frustrating for newcomers or someone seeking to gather complete, up-to-date information about a particular product line. Moreover, these information silos are often overlooked and not addressed by companies, especially when they aren’t causing a backlog.

In 2004, Wagstaff Inc. took a hard look at the time and money it spent tracking product line information around its Spokane, Washington facility. Product line information was stored in process documents, the CAM system and Excel spreadsheets. Not only that, but tracking and leveraging the information on new jobs was difficult because information wasn’t necessarily being shared amongst different users. After integrating the Tool Lifecycle Management system from TDM Systems, the company was able to integrate data and knowledge from various sources into a centralized database. Read the full story here.

A recurring topic of discussion during my recent trip touring Virginian manufacturing facilities was labor: finding it, hiring it, training it. For some manufacturers, the local reality is that there are not enough already-skilled people looking for work. Hiring under these circumstances entails offering access to technical education of some kind, or a lot of on-the-job training. On the other hand, some other manufacturers have been able to partner with local higher-education institutions in order to establish “pipelines” of people with the skills necessary to begin work with less additional training.

Rolls-Royce Crosspointe’s model is taking advantage of both routes. The aerospace manufacturer has some aggressive short-term hiring goals: hire another 36 people by the end of 2017, 50 more in 2018.

In May, Jenoptik Automotive in Rochester Hills, Michigan, moved across the street from its former U.S. headquarters to a new 100,000-square-foot facility on a 16-acre campus that offers room for expected future expansion to 150,000 square feet. This operation will be devoted to production, testing and customer training for laser cutting systems and automated gaging solutions for North American automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and Tier suppliers.

The company says North America is one of Jenoptik’s strategic target markets in which it envisions above-average growth in the coming years. In 2016, Jenoptik generated approximately 20 percent of group revenue, or 135 million euros in the Americas. In total, Jenoptik employs about 270 staff in the United States.

What if, instead of manufacturing a batch of 100 pieces, you could instead manufacture 10 batches of 10, all in separate places that are near the ultimate points of use. Digital manufacturing via 3D printing coupled with cloud-based networking makes this possible. This is the “manufacturing as a service” model now being advanced by UPS’s Global On-Demand Manufacturing Network. UPS VP of Corporate Strategy Alan Amling discusses the idea in this video. Additive manufacturing as a disruption not just to manufactured part designs but also to logistics is an idea I talk about here.

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Focused on “smart” factories, cities, mines and more, Hexagon’s annual conference opened with an inspiring keynote address on the “limitless possibilities” of an interconnected world. Yet, however limitless the future, HxGN Live also clarified the extent of the possibilities available in the present.

Hosted June 13-16 at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, the annual event attracted 3,000 end users and partners hailing from industries ranging from security to transportation to utilities. Based on presentations and demonstrations from the company’s Manufacturing Intelligence division, the promise associated with data-driven manufacturing of discrete parts is very real, and at least for Hexagon, most of the proverbial puzzle pieces are now in place.

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