Monthly Archives: September 2011

Collaborative Manufacturing: Fact or Fiction?

We’ve all heard the phrase “collaborative manufacturing,” but what is it and does it really exist?

As defined by MESA (Manufacturing Collaborative Manufacturing: Fact or Fiction?Enterprise Solutions Association), a collaborative manufacturing environment is one in which “designated individuals and organizations- both internal to a manufacturing enterprise and extended to its suppliers, customers and partners- work together for mutual gain. The objectives of Collaborative Manufacturing are to streamline end-to-end business and supply chain processes and provide a more comprehensive and accurate information base from which to make decisions.” True collaborative manufacturing hinges on the sharing of real-time information.

The Foundation: Real-Time Information

In order to create a collaborative manufacturing environment, you must first create a real-time environment. In an AMR survey, 34% of respondents quantified their company’s idea of real-time information as information that was no less than 8 hours old. This means managers are forced to make real-time decisions with outdated and inaccurate information. Not only does this have major implications on the bottom line, it also makes it difficult to stay on schedule, improve quality and maintain optimal production velocity.

How to Achieve Real-Time

  1. A Common Shop Floor Platform – In order for decision makers to respond to an unexpected event on the shop floor, it must first be detected. A common shop floor system provides transparency into the manufacturing process allowing for immediate detection of any unexpected events that will affect continuous production. This level of visibility eliminates lag time and creates an environment of collaboration.
  2. Integration – Integrating existing applications (ERP, MES, PLM, Scheduling,etc.) creates a real-time feedback loop providing you with the most up to date data to make the most informed decision.
  3. Information Sharing – Not only do manufacturers and suppliers need access to accurate and complete information, they must also be able to share it with one another. A common communication platform allows users to foresee potential problems and take action to prevent or correct the problem in the quickest manner possible.

Fact: Collaborative manufacturing is the driver that leads to adaptability, responsiveness, and efficiency. It not only provides transparency into your manufacturing process, but also improves the bottom line. Companies are moving toward collaborative to stay competitive.

What steps is your company taking to move toward collaborative manufacturing?