Albert Einstein once said, "It's not that I'm so smart; it's just that I stay with problems longer."
That's where persistence, innovation, and adaptation fit in--especially with regard to the business world. With Einstein's statement as their inspiration, the editors of Tooling & Production have asked a cross-section of leaders in metalworking manufacturing to address some key industry issues of 2008. These are among the people who will help shape the future. Each participant was asked a specific question fashioned by the editorial team.
John B. Byrd III
AMT The Association For Manufacturing Technology
You have said: "Their is a common perception that companies can simply set up shop in another country and be successful." AMT. which first opened an international office in China in 1993. knows that is anything but the case. Do volt believe that more companies are beginning to appreciate that successful globalization takes a broad embrace of the partnership concept?
In order to fully appreciate global manufacturing, one must accept that the manufacturing economy consists of two very different sectors: production of commodity goods and durable-goods manufacturing.
Commodity goods manufacturing is generally low-skill, labor-intensive manufacturing that will flow to areas of low wages. Unless the volume can justify implementation of advanced manufacturing technology, this work is generally accomplished through the use of manual labor and favors countries that haven't developed an integrated manufacturing economy.
While low-cost countries do compete in durable goods manufacturing, durable goods production normally follows demand because the supply chain has become very compressed as manufacturers strive to reduce costs Durable goods are high-value-added products that are made to exacting specifications in an assembly line environment. Therefore, in the durable goods manufacturing supply chain, lead time is critical, technology is essential, and productivity is a competitive advantage.
Meeting the needs of ever more demanding customers requires more than simply selling advanced technology. Manufacturing technology providers must develop a mind-set that they are partners with their customers, jointly seeking solutions to the customers needs.
To compete in this environment, manufacturing technology providers must be prepared, not only to sell their products in every local manufacturing economy, but also to support the product after the sale. This can be a significant challenge in a foreign country if the company's representatives don't speak the language, fail to understand the laws and customs of the host country, and, most importantly, lack understanding of local business practices.
Today, there is a growing recognition among U.S. companies that, just as U.S. manufacturers won't accept foreign products without local support, foreign manufacturers expect the same degree of support in their local markets. In short, just as durable-goods production follows demand, manufacturing technology providers that provide support in the local markets and can provide a competitive advantage to local manufacturers will see demand for their products around the world.
Many companies have learned this lesson as they struggled to compete in an environment they didn't understand. The successful companies learned from their early mistakes; the unsuccessful companies never developed an understanding that manufacturers everywhere in the world expect local support.
Because almost 90 percent of the global demand for manufacturing technology products lies outside the United States, U.S. manufacturing technology providers are becoming increasingly global as they strive to participate in growing markets such as China and India. They recognize they must be there not just in spirit but also in fact, and are rapidly developing a local presence not only by setting up local offices and manufacturing facilities, but also by developing strategic alliances and joint ventures.
This is the business model of the future.
AMT--The Association For Manufacturing Technology, www.rsleads.com/801tp-157
President and CEO
Iscar Metals Inc.
Warren Buffet's investment into Israel-based Iscar Metalworking Companies (IMC) was a major attention-getter throughout the business world. But IMC also took over Unitac last year--the first non-Japanese cutting-tool manufacturer to acquire a cutting-tool manufacturer in Japan. You've said: "Our culture allows us to work easily with other cultures around the world." Is that attribute increasingly becoming an important metric to success in global manufacturing?
The world market is expanding over the last few years with the high investments in the emerging markets, including China, India, Russia, and Eastern Europe, and is consequently experiencing sustained growth in exporting markets in Western Europe, Japan, and North America.
Looking forward, we foresee growth in all segments relating to aerospace, power generation, oil and gas, machine tool builders, medical and general engineering relating to both the emerging and the exporting countries. This positive trend will also result in an enhanced competitive environment. In this context, Iscar's continuous introduction of new pioneering and innovative products provides our customers with the tools to further improve their productivity and to be able to compete more successfully in this competitive global environment.
To address the challenges of our customers to achieve sustainable increase in productivity, Iscar is introducing a revolutionary new metalworking concept for increased productivity called 3P Sumo lines. This concept presents Premium Productivity Products (3P) for better productivity, better profitability, and better performance. The highlight of the 3P introduction is the Sumo Tec products feature a new series of premium tungsten carbide grades to meet the machining challenges of the metal cutting industry. Complementing Sumo Tec, Iscar has developed a new series of tools and inserts branded Sumo Lines.
Furthermore, Iscar's purchase of Unitac/ American Heller of the USA and Japan is another indication of Iscar's commitment to introduce to the market the most comprehensive program and solutions for the most demanding applications within the industry. We believe that by adopting the 3P, companies will be better positioned to compete and gain a higher share of their respective market.
The success in 2008 of any company in United States and elsewhere is directly related to adopting the latest technology.
Iscar Metals Inc., www.rsleads.com/801tp-158
Senior Director, Controls
Okuma America Corp.
When Okuma introduced THINC--The intelligent Numerical Control--the corporation pointed out that "the classic model of CNC design, implementation, and use is obsolete." Okuma also said its shill in thinking is based on a few basic precepts. Please elaborate on those precepts--and comment on how those precepts may, or may not, apply to the industry in general.
Okuma sees a direct correlation between biological evolution and machine tool control evolution. As time progresses, biological systems and control systems must evolve more quickly to remain competitive in the ecosystem. CNC has reached an evolutionary dead end. It is obsolete and ready for extinction.
In 1998, the Okuma Precept was proposed and adopted as an axiom of the corporation.
The classic model of CNC design, implementation, and use is obsolete.
This precept is based upon four basic laws of industrial computing which Okuma collectively christened as the Red Queen Inference. These basic laws are the foundation of THINC, The Intelligent Numerical Control. THINC is a disruptive technology in the sense defined by David Bader, executive director of high performance computing at Georgia Tech who says, "It's only when you have disruption of the status quo that new innovations can affect technology with revolutionary advances."
[Here is] the Red Queen Inference:
The end user of machine tools must have the freedom to customize the control environment independent of the OEM in order to adapt to changing environments and requirements.
Industrial computers for machine tool control must inexpensively and easily pace the general computing market even after installation on the factory floor. The machine tool control must evolve with new technology on the factory floor.
Machine tool controls must be fully and absolutely compatible with the de facto computing environment of the general computing industry.
Machine tool controls must incorporate a robust and user-friendly set of application programming interfaces to allow the end user or a third party to develop software to influence machine tool operation...