What should modern manufacturing look like?
There’s a lot of ways of thinking about that but I think that few would argue that information should be exchanged digitally. In a world in which products are designed and optimized in a computer, it is hard to see why diagrams and blueprints should have to be printed out. Except as Marketplace reports, not everyone is necessarily ready for a digital world (Legacy equipment still hinders digital manufacturing, Jan 28).
The product in question here seems like a pretty nice desk (although I must confess to be a fan of standing desks) but it doesn’t seem horribly complex. That is, if one thinks about sending directions for cutting the various parts digitally, it should be fairly straightforward. It is consequently rather remarkable that they are having such a hard time executing their digital strategy.
The report lays the blame for the slow roll out of digital manufacturing on the legacy equipment used in manufacturing sites around the world. To play devil’s advocate, it is not clear that individual shop owners are making a bad decision. It seems reasonable to suppose that digitally enabled equipment should increase productivity. If all of the information is in a file, set up times should be shorter and switching between order should take less time. However, that supposes that a shop has a lot of customers who are capable of delivering instructions digitally and — possibly just importantly — using the same standard interface. The report says nothing about how many different standards there in the market for how digital information should be exchanged. If there is not a clear standard, a shop owner risks backing the wrong, upgrading his equipment only to find out that most potential customers are using a different digital format.