Jun 10 2014

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Digital’s Role in Collaboration across Manufacturing

The importance of sharing is a philosophy that has been ingrained into our lives all the way from our early childhood. The famous poem “All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” has this advice as its first line. As a grown up, this philosophy still holds true, including how we work. Sharing best practices and working together to solve common problems are just two examples.

Today’s digital transformation has had an interesting impact on how we share and work together – distance is no longer a criterion of collaboration effectiveness. When working in a paper-based world, however, you pretty much have to be in the same room. Given today’s global supply chains and distributed engineering teams, this type of scenario simply isn’t viable anymore. Just look at the Dragon V2 spacecraft that Space-X just launched. Given all the new technology and innovative design, it would be very difficult to assemble all your engineers – both internally and from your supply chain – to sit together in the same room for a few years!

Digital Manufacturing is a field focused on simulating how workers can best assemble and perform production processes – before a single conveyor belt, fixture or bolt is tightened. By leveraging digital designs that can be readily shared as digital files with managers, executives and those who will actually be performing the processes, it is possible to greatly improve the collaboration necessary to build the infrastructure for a new product line right, the first time. 3D images can be readily shared to visualize what will be built, to save having to guess on decisions such as how close to establish work stations, or how much repetitive motion can be tolerated without causing fatigue. These capabilities are considerably more difficult and more prone to error in a paper-based world.

Manufacturing operations management is now “catching up” to what the design, engineering and digital manufacturing world has known for decades – digital collaboration is more effective as it can expand the scope of how you can communicate and can help you come to resolution and solve problems faster.

The Manufacturing Leadership Council just released new research that takes a closer look at the current state of digital collaboration across the shop floor. The report examines the role of Enterprise Social Networking applications, what factors are most important for success, and where the greatest gaps exist between perceived importance and actual mastery. For example, this chart is quite telling:collaborative_and_social_networking_challenges


Clearly manufacturers see the importance of collaboration, but they also recognize that work needs to be done to achieve the vision that most see as the future of improving communication across the shop floor. (Download a free copy of the complete report here.)

Has your organization embraced enterprise social networking as a tool to improve how you work together? Has this collaboration “pool” extended to beyond your organization and out to the supply chain? Do you have any best practices worth sharing?


Gordon can be found on Google+ .

Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2014/06/digitals-role-in-collaboration-across-manufacturing/

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