A lot of stories have appeared in the news lately about the role of automation in manufacturing. In particular, companies that manufacture robotic systems that improve the efficiency and reliability of manufacturing operations have experienced tremendous growth lately as product companies around the world are looking for any competitive edge they can gain to accelerate time to market and reduce costs associated with quality defects.
Having been in the manufacturing software industry now for nearly 30 years, I always observe with fascination how different companies make decisions to either embrace the inevitable change, procrastinate and make no decision, or outright reject the change as unnecessary for their business.
The Inevitability of Change
When I first started my career in the software world, it began at Computervision, one of the early pioneers of the CAD/CAM revolution. I shudder to say this, but at that time (1988), there were still a LOT of people creating drawings on a drafting board. Over the ensuring 10 years across my tenure at Computervision and then PTC, I watched some companies eagerly partner with technology vendors and relegate the drafting boards to a bonfire out behind the building. And then other companies just fought the change, tooth and nail to the bitter end. “It’s a fad”. “It’s not nearly as fast as my draftsman”. “I might lose the data, then what would I do?” “It’s too expensive!” “It’s not accurate enough”. It’s now 28 years later – anyone seen a drafting board around lately?? Inevitability, why fight it?
Many years and many companies after my initial experience at Computervision, I find myself in nearly the identical situation again. Here at aPriori, the incredibly brilliant people on our Product Team have developed an advanced software technology that enables companies to quickly and easily simulate the manufacturing process within software for the purpose of identifying the cost drivers that have the potential to inflate product cost. This technology has been embraced by more than 100 of the world’s most forward thinking manufacturers: Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Honeywell Aerospace, American Axle & Manufacturing, Ingersoll Rand, ThyssenKrupp Elevators. Their product designers, cost engineers, supply chain specialists and manufacturing engineers are identifying cost drivers and saving their companies quite literally millions of dollars every year. Nevertheless, it is amazing how many companies cling to their outdated methods of homegrown database solutions, infinitely complicated Microsoft Excel solutions, and obsolete expert systems that can only be used by a handful of experts within the company.
And it’s not just big companies. We are starting to witness a rise in the number of suppliers that are using aPriori to help revolutionize the process of generating detailed cost estimates that become part of the response to customer RFQs. These companies are winning new business and leaving their competitors in the rear view mirror – still clinging to their drafting boards (or in this case, beloved spreadsheets)!
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