Manufacturing Value Chain

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Rethinking Advanced Technology for Maintenance

By Sheila Brennan

Technologies for data acquisition, data communication and analytics have become increasingly viable, affordable, and scalable providing organizations with the opportunity to reexamine their asset maintenance strategies to not only deliver customers better service, but also to enable more predictable and profitable service revenue streams.

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One of most common phrases one hears in PLM discussions – usually during a product demonstration by a PLM software vendor – is "a single version of the truth." The notion is that manufacturing organizations have to manage vast amounts of information generated from a variety of sources, both manual and instrument generated, that is managed by any number of bespoke applications and spreadsheets. The idea of offering a single point to organize and access the different data sources and points of view appears to make sense. But a close examination reveals some serious challenges.

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The U.S. Manufacturing picture got a boost of confidence from Apple Inc. last week, as the company announced plans to bring manufacturing of one of its Mac computer lines back to the U.S. in 2013. Apple is prepared to invest $100 million in the endeavor, and will rely on partnerships with local suppliers to produce the Macs. Recently, Apple has moved some of the assembly of products like iMacs back to the U.S., and there are a number of Apple components already made in this country, including the A5 processor that powers all iPhones and iPads, and the glass from Corning that covers the iPhone and iPad. Additionally, several of Apple's global suppliers, including well-known Foxconn, operate plants in the U.S. This announcement represents a signal from Apple that the time is right for the manufacturing industry to reinvest in the U.S. as a location for producing goods.

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Earlier this week, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has recognized Siemens’ JT data format as an international standard for viewing and sharing lightweight 3D product information. ISO IS14306 provides a detailed description of the JT data format, enabling corporations and software vendors to leverage JT in their PLM workflow and software applications. ISO now has the rights to publish and distribute the JT File Format Reference to the general marketplace.

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With 75% of all manufacturers in the United States in the process of adopting or seriously researching cloud computing, manufacturers are changing the way they buy and use IT resources. IDC Manufacturing Insights research reveals that many manufacturers don't yet have a realistic strategy or road map for adopting cloud. We've researched manufacturers' current assumptions and identified a set of critical questions that manufacturers should address before they select deployment models and the vendors that will support them.

Photo of Heather AshtonOffline

At IDC Manufacturing Insights, we've begun to see a shift in manufacturing -the next wave of productivity, supported by the four pillars (big data, cloud, mobile, and social). Social business is an important component in this new "house of productivity" that manufacturers need to create. Manufacturers are bringing Twitter-like and Facebook-like and Linked-in-like capabilities into the business culture, their processes, and their existing applications as well as upgrading their existing collaboration tools. What exactly is social business, then? I like to use the distinction that social business is conversation-based and people-centric, rather than task-based and file-centered.

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