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Automating the Manufacturing White Space

iStock_000008833592Large I’m an engineer at heart. I love to solve technical challenges. When I walk through a modern factory I’m looking for just that: challenges to solve. Most factories today have done an admirable job of automating their primary processes. When I visit factories, I see machine centers humming away, dutifully performing the tasks they have been designed to do. But when I look closer I still see challenges. Almost every factory I work with is still operating with automation silos – highly efficient and productive islands of automation that are not connected, and whose inputs and outputs are still manual. I call the space between the automation silos the Manufacturing White Space. And it is ripe for automation.

In the discipline of process management, this “white space” is where important handoffs happen. It is also where many organizations have the greatest potential for improvement. The manufacturing white space is chock full of people – people handling product and people handling information. And anywhere a manufacturer has people touching product or dealing with information, a manufacturer has a candidate for automation. Continue Reading →