Connected Assets Accelerate the Journey to Lean Manufacturing

By | Internet of Things, Manufacturing | No Comments

The Seduction of Data

Industry 4.0 promises to bring our factories to the 21st century. Thanks to the pervasive digitalization of manufacturing assets, we can now collect and track detailed manufacturing operations data. Lots of it, in real time, all the time. We can analyze it, trend it, and share it across the extended enterprise, again, in real time if we wish to.

But does having more data promise better decisions? Not necessarily. Read More

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupé (1954) (Andy Warhol, 1986)

Tesla: Making Cars is Hard to Do

By | Automotive, Manufacturing | 4 Comments

Tesla Struggles to Ramp Up Manufacturing Volume, With Unintended Consequences

Ramping up an auto manufacturing line is difficult. For a newcomer, reaching efficient and lean operation at the level of Toyota and GM is extremely challenging. And, as I pointed out in the past, Tesla’s ongoing manufacturing woes are a painful proof.

In 2010, Tesla acquired the Fremont, CA NUMMI manufacturing plant previously owned jointly by General Motors and Toyota for a $42 million bargain basement deal. When I visited the Fremont plant a while ago, my host was especially proud of the junkyard price the company paid for two huge Schuler hydraulic stamping presses, which form the largest line in North America and the 6th largest in the world.

What Tesla didn’t get as part of the deal is knowledge and experience in complex manufacturing. Read More

Narcissus By Cluade Martin

Innovation and the Inherent Bias of Technology

By | Internet of Things, IT Strategy, Manufacturing | No Comments

The Imherent Bias of Technology

“Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral” declared Melvin Kranzberg.

Indeed, not only is technology un-neutral, it has an intrinsic bias. In the process of defining and implementing software to perform certain tasks and solve particular problems, the designers make many assumptions and decisions—most of which are irreversible—about the intended tasks, workflows, work environment, and user profiles. Unintentionally, the marketers and designers of software tools introduce a bias.

Douglas Allchin maintains that in itself this inherent bias does not pose a problem, but it does dictate how the technology is being used, and who can and cannot use it. Consequently, the innate bias influences the ability of the organization to realize the full value of the technology.

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The Persistence of Memory

Tesla Missed Forecast. Are you Surprised?

By | Automotive, Manufacturing, Strategy | No Comments

Tesla Missed Q2 Forecast

Tesla Motors delivered 14,370 vehicles in the second quarter, missing its forecast of 17,000 units “due to the extreme production ramp in Q2 and the high mix of customer-ordered vehicles still on trucks and ships at the end of the quarter, Tesla Q2 deliveries were lower than anticipated at 14,370 vehicles, consisting of 9,745 Model S and 4,625 Model X.”

This should not come as a surprise. One of Tesla’s biggest—albeit least discussed—challenges is its struggling manufacturing supply chain.
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Will Brexit Put the Brakes on British Innovation?

By | Internet of Things, Manufacturing, Strategy | 3 Comments

The UK to exit the EU: What are the Implications for Tech Companies?

Most analysts agree:  the economic consequences of the UK leaving the European Union will be bad, and, in all likelihood, the long-term political implications will be even more dire. For British technology firms the prognosis is no better. Leaving the EU means shortage of skills and limited ability to employ non-UK workers, new trade regulations and tariffs, and uncertainties concerning EU’s data protection directives.

In the chaos of the Brexit we’ve nearly forgotten that one of the primary initiatives of the EU was to catalyze long term economic growth through higher levels of collaboration and deliberate investments in innovation. The EU supports several interlinked programs that provide member states €120 billion over the period 2014 – 2020 for research, development and innovation. The largest program is Horizon 2020 with a budget of just over €70 billion.

After Brexit, UK firms will no longer have easy access to EU research grants. Some are quick to dismiss these grants as they represent only a small fraction of the UK’s technology R&D budget, and point out that the UK is actually a net contributor to the EU budget. Between 2007 and 2013, the UK contributed €77.7 billion to the EU, which amounted to 10.5% of the total EU income from member states, and received €47.5 billion in EU funding (6% of the total).

But they may be missing the point.
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