How to become a next-generation manufacturer

A piece in the January 13 ARCwire, ARC Advisory Group’s newsletter for manufacturing and supply chain excellence, makes an intriguing argument that automation as we know it today won’t get us across the threshold to the next generation of manufacturing

What’s required is CAS: Collaborative Automation Systems. ARC authors Dave Woll and Dick Slansky make the following observations:

• To establish CAS in a company, it’s essential that manufacturing operate collaboratively with the entire company. Silos must be eliminated. Continuity between manufacturing work processes and business work processes makes accessible the timely and actionable information that can drive the entire company.

• Performance measurement as it’s traditionally done is inadequate in next-generation manufacturing because it relies too much on the analysis of events that occurred in the past. Companies can only understand, control, and improve their manufacturing capabilities if they measure performance with real-time tools instead of relying on hindsight analysis.

• Inherent in traditional performance measurement is a time lapse that hinders optimal accuracy. Real-time Performance Management (RPM), on the other hand, is a collaborative concept that adapts dynamically to bring a whole new level of performance intelligence.

• The primary value of RPM is that it eliminates lost opportunities by exposing previously unrevealed capacity. Knowing such capacity exists, a company can respond to unplanned demand signals from the marketplace. Effective fulfillment of unplanned demand results in significant performance improvements.

Woll and Slansky are but two voices in a growing chorus of industry analysts and participants who sing the praises of real-time data exchange. It seems a safe bet that packaging machinery manufacturers whose equipment facilitates this information flow will have a leg up on those whose machines hinder it.

Next Generation Manufacturing, by the way, is the theme at ARC’s upcoming annual forum, February 20-24 in Orlando. For more information, visit

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