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Oct 6, 201611:53 AMMaking Madison

with Buckley Brinkman

Three Ts for transformation

(page 1 of 2)

October is Manufacturing Month in Wisconsin.

Manufacturing (and the rest of our economy) faces a tumultuous market in the next few years. Accelerating change, demographic trends, and discontinuous innovation will create new challenges for all companies, but even more for manufacturers. For them, three critical elements often make the difference between success and failure for manufacturers. Talent, technology, and techniques have all been cornerstones determining past success. These three Ts will remain critical for future success — just not in the same way.

Historically, organizations could develop a competence in one of the three Ts and thrive. Most manufacturers addressed talent, technology, and techniques in a siloed fashion and thrived doing it. Markets were stable and change moved slowly, allowing operations to smoothly adapt using continuous innovation to stay competitive. In this bygone world, it was also much easier to stay on top of best practices in all three arenas.

Accelerating change, demographic trends, and discontinuous innovation throughout the market make it much more difficult to stay on top these days. We face new talent challenges as our workforce continues to age; technology is transforming the ways we make things; and techniques are morphing to support the requirements of modern manufacturing. Change has never moved so quickly, threatening successful business models in ways unthought of even a decade ago.

In the past, operations could react to the three Ts in isolation: changing policy, adding equipment, or altering processes in isolation to meet new challenges and stay competitive. Now, it’s much more likely that any change in one of the Ts will affect the other two.

As an example, let’s consider a manufacturer adding their first robot to pack finished product into shipping cartons. Clearly, this is a technology change, using a capital investment to eliminate a tedious and difficult-to-fill job. The robot and its success now makes it necessary to either train or hire employees who can interact with robotics. Finally, these changes will also force adjustments to the techniques used to move product and record those moves. A straightforward equipment change impacted all three Ts.

(Continued)

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About This Blog

Buckley Brinkman is executive director and CEO of the Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing & Productivity and writes about the manufacturing sector in Greater Madison and throughout Wisconsin. He has a breadth of experience in helping companies drive growth, world-class competitiveness, and performance excellence, and has led efforts to save dozens of operations in the U.S. by finding new ways for them to compete. A Wisconsin native, Brinkman holds a business degree from the University of Wisconsin and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

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