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Feb 23 2012

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The Heightened Challenge of Disruptive Manufacturing

This week we learned that Tesla Motors expanded their Apriso solution by adding Manufacturing Process Intelligence (MPI) to their manufacturing operations management platform. (Read the release).

It has been incredibly exciting working with this company. They clearly have a bigger company mission driving their very existence. Status quo is not part of their vocabulary. It’s not every day you get a chance to work with an organization that is trying to change something as iconic as the automobile. Tesla is literally fighting to change the way consumers see the 100 year old automotive industry, which is no small task.

Just as the Impressionistic artists from the late 1800s sought to disrupt the art market, Tesla seeks to disrupt the automotive manufacturing industry.

Much like Impressionistic painters of the late 1800s sought to disrupt the arts world by painting outdoor settings with natural lighting that portrayed movement instead of static, indoor posed images, Tesla Motors sees itself as a change-agent leading our culture to view electric cars as the “new” transportation standard.

Their challenges are many. One that is front and center is how to ramp up production line quickly, cost effectively and with near-perfect quality. A quality issue today could mean more than simply a public relations “hiccup” – it could seriously hamper the survivability of what is still a fragile, nascent market.

In light of this challenge, Tesla Motors’ investment makes sense. As a technology disrupter, Tesla’s investment in a robust intelligence and analytics solution today, despite current low production volumes, makes total sense.

Tesla Motors will have real-time visibility to their production processes while at the same time capture a robust set of product and process characteristics that will provide a window into the inner workings of their complex operations. The data being collected essentially provides the foundation for insights into which characteristics provide the right “levers” to manipulate and improve process and product performance.

In addition to inline Statistical Process Control (SPC), which provides immediate feedback to operators and mechanics, manufacturing process intelligence enables manufacturing and quality engineers to surface and correlate relationships among the data that will help them to best understand and continuously improve process and product performance. Immediate potential benefits include scrap reductions and higher first pass yields.

While your stakes may not be as extreme as those of a disruptive manufacturer such as Tesla Motors, how much leeway do you have with your production processes? How close are your competitors to obviating your competitive advantage? How hard do you have to work to keep up your status quo? While the fate of a blossoming industry may not be at stake, your company’s fate might be. Perhaps real-time intelligence might not be such a bad investment.

Jordan can be found on Google+

Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2012/02/the-heightened-challenge-of-disruptive-manufacturing/

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