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Early in 2016 we spent a lot of time, and blog space, focused on the subject of "Additive Manufacturing", also known as 3D printing.  Feedback from our customers and readers was that 3D printing didn't have much impact on "true" manufacturers and that legitmate uses by our actual clients might still be three-to-five years down the road.  With naysayers still echoing in our heads, we believe this brief article from MakePartsFast.com helps paint a more immediate reality for 3D printing by citing significant investments that are being made by some of the biggest manufacutring names within the United States. Be sure to note the $60 million "3D Printing Metal Powder Plant" recently opened by Alcoa just about 25 miles outside of Pittsburgh. Also take a look at the long list of 3D vendors that GE is either partnering with or acquiring as they plan to grow their additive manufacturing business to $1 billion by 2020. These are big investments with some significant returns being projected by companies that everyone in manufacturing knows and respects. As 2016 comes to a close, be sure to dedicate some attention and resources to monitoring the additive manufacturing trend in the new year.  You can bet that we will! 

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We wish to start by thanking our long-standing partners at ThomasNet for making us aware of this MIT article, posted today on SupplyChainMIT.com, regarding innovation within Supply Chain teams. The post is essentially an executive summary of a study conducted in January with 112 master's students taking part in a supply chain simulation. Their study is unique in that unique teams were created and all were handed a failing company scenarior that required innovation in order to turn the company profitable. Ultimately, there were five strongest predictors of improved performance within the supply chain, but the stand-out requirment was having a good knowledge of the functional challenges other team members faced.  The post is based upon an article written by Dr. Roberto Perez-Franco, founder and director of the MIT Supply Chain Strategy Lab is highly recommended for those attempting to innovate within their own teams. 

Earlier this month we posted The Five Ways IoT will Reshape Manufacturing on our blog and received some good messages and social comments.  Today we discovered a very helpful and somewhat complimentary article, with a powerful video accompaniment, called 10 Industries the Internet of Things Will Change Forever. Not surprisingly, at the top of this list is Manufacturing. Beyond the brief article, we recommend spending three minutes with the well-produced video as well which seems to focus on the "Industrial" Internet of Things and the value it may have the future. Ultimately, it would probably be a challenge to identify an industry that will not be changed forever as a result of the IoT revolution, but clearly we see this trend report as important for all of our clients to consider as a new year dawns. 

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As a sensor manufacturer for nearly 60 years, it's not hard for our team at Madison Company to foresee a future where smart sensors help make our world and workplace better.  The Internet of Things (IoT) has been predicted for many years and is only now starting to deliver true benefits to business and consumers.  Hewlett Packard Enterprise recently published this very quick guide, called Data Assembly Required, that defines these five ways IoT will reshape the manufacturing industry:

1 - Predictive Maintenance: Imagine a future where your factory machines remind you when they need to be routinely seriviced or when something is not operating within an acceptable range. 

2 - Easier Supply Chain Maintenance: Imagine a future where logistics for raw materials are precise and lends manufacturers greater control over inventory. 

3 - Remote Accessibility: Imagine a future where dashboards can tell you where things are in remote warehouses or with other vendors without a need to have real "boots on the ground". 

4 - Increased Safety: Imagine a future where sensors can convey dangerous situations prior to humans being exposed to potential safety hazards. 

5 - Overall Greater Efficiency: All four items above plus other ancillary benefits create a future manufacturing facility that produces more efficiently while saving time, money and the well-being of the staff. 

 

Be sure to read this quick post completely and follow the embeded link that defines how $70 billion will be invested globably by manufacturers by the year 2020!

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In past posts on our Facebook and LinkedIn profiles we've covered the popular, emerging trend described as the Internet of Things (IoT) which is the connecting of devices and sensors in a collaborative network. While the stories about this trend usually tend to focus on refrigerators that will let you know when you're running low on milk, thermostats that know when you're coming home so the temperature is in your ideal comfort range, and lights that are aware of your presence, what will really move IoT from concept to reality is tried and tested innovation. That's why we were excited about this recent article from IEEE Spectrum about the proliferation of IoT starter kits. These affordable hardware kits can be combined with software options for networking and application development. If you've been looking for a way to move an idea for a new product or app to the forefront of the IoT revolution, why not take advantage of these new testing resources today?  

 

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Following up on their insightful study on The Future of Manufacturing released this past spring, Deloitte has joined forces with the U.S. Council on Competitiveness to release the Advanced Technologies Initiative - an in-depth study of the 10 technologies that represent the future of manufacturing and innovation. Developed from dozens of interviews with Chief Technology Officers, chief research leaders and directors of national research facilities, this study highlights strengths and weaknesses of the innovation ecosystem within the United States. It also clearly identifies the most promising advanced manufacturing technologies:

1. Predictive Analytics

2. Smart Connected Products (aka Internet-of-Things (IoT))

3. Advanced Materials

4. Smart Factories (IoT)

5. Digital Design, Simulation and Integration

6. High Performance Computing

7. Advanced Robotics 

8. 3D Printing (aka Additive Manufacturing (AM) & 3D Scanning)

9. Open-Source Design / Direct Customer Input

10. Augmented Reality 

This free 80 page study is important reading for those responsible for future leadership of U.S. manufacturing companies.

Highly recommended! 

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Twenty years after the theory of Disruptive Innovation hit the pages of Harvard Business Review, HBR revisits the concept and explains why the concept is being misused and provides four specific points that are often overlooked by managers and leaders. First and foremost, while "Disruptive Innovation" sounds like a one-off event or invention, it is actually a process that evolves over years and sometimes decades. They also go into detail about why so many people think that Uber is a disruptive innovation, and whether that is really the case. A truly helpful article for those looking for deeper insights on the topic.

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According to most historic sources the birth of hydropower, using water to generate electricity,started around 1880. Over the past 135 years we've seen steady improvements and growth that have allowed us to benefit from naturally free flowing water. But what about the hundreds of thousands of gallons of water flowing through pipes and sewer systems each day? It looks like the city of Portland is testing new "Smart Pipe" technology to tap into additional energy generation. These pipes not only contain sensors that monitor water quality and water pressure, but they also incorporate hydroelectric turbines which capture energy from the normal day-to-day functions and flow of water pipelines. This exciting innovation could benefit cities and even help to power large manufacturing plants across the globe as “Smart Pipe” technology is perfected.

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We have been partnered with ThomasNet for quite some time and appreciate our partnership with them.  They are not only helpful to our business but the resources they provide to the manufacturing industry as a whole is nearly immeasurable. Take, for one example, this recent post about new technologies increasing safety within manufacturing and the supply chain.  An important read to discover new and emerging trends that will not only help your company but might also save a life. 

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Each year manufacturing trade magazine/media group, IndustryWeek, creates the IndustryWeek 500, an annual ranking of America's largest public manufacturers, based upon reported revenues.  While the published list is easy to access, it can only be sorted by a few fields (like Revenue, Industry, Company Name, Rank, etc.).  Having been based in Connecticut for nearly sixty years but always looking for new customers to make happy, we here at Madison Company are wondering WHERE are these top 500 companies located so we can go knock on a few doors!  Luckily, the good people of IndustryWeek heard our concerns and recently published this interactive Google map that allows anyone to quickly see how these 500 companies are plotted across 42 states and the District of Columbia! 

Time to fire up the GPS and start knocking! 

 

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Madison Company Blog

Madison Company Blog