Friday, June 06, 2008

Next Big Future, Yeah Right

Frankly, I see such projections of a bright future for manufacturing to be a pipe dream. First, I quote:
"A coordinated effort by research, companies and government could be made to plan and develop Rapid Automated Manufacturing by 2030. There could be an increase in economic growth into the 10-20% per year range even for developed countries like the USA. Technology roadmaps and planning would be needed to perfect materials, supply chains, real time monitoring, approval processes and deployment of the technologies and methods listed below, the world could transition to radically faster economic growth. It would take a lot of work to get everything coordinated to have this effort scale and transform each of the industries in order for nationwide growth rate to move a bunch. It would be exactly like the societal transformation to mass production and industrialization back in the early 1900s. Education, Industry and government and society would all have to adapt. The carrot is after you do it in a few decades your nation is a hundred times richer than it would have been if it had not been done."
There have been many utopian manufacturing revolutions introduced in the last sixty years. Many have been step changes in technology and business process such as TQM (Total Quality Manufacturing), JIT (Just in Time) and my personal favorite TOC (Theory of Constraints), but what they have not been able to overcome is the human factor. That is, how to change how humans think about the world and their inherent resistance to change. You can roll out any new manufacturing philosophy you want, but without addressing the emotional nature of humans, you might as well be tilting at windmills. Believe me, the human factor (as well as Murphy) play a far bigger role in manufacturing than anything else. Unless humans are removed from the process, you might as well forget about the revolution. That is, unless one is proposing a future of the Matrix, Terminator or Battlestar Gallatictica.

Of course, I could be wrong.

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