Collaboration creates new advantages for manufacturing

Manufacturing companies have increased their productivity and efficiency over time by implementing new strategies, business processes and IT solutions. Strategies range from total quality management to lean manufacturing and Six Sigma to customer-centricity. Improved business processes and supporting software solutions brought more accuracy, visibility, consistency and efficiency to manufacturi...


Manufacturing companies have increased their productivity and efficiency over time by implementing new strategies, business processes and IT solutions.

Strategies range from total quality management to lean manufacturing and Six Sigma to customer-centricity. Improved business processes and supporting software solutions brought more accuracy, visibility, consistency and efficiency to manufacturing companies.

However, there is an increasing recognition that companies are competing as supply chains, not individual entities. For today’s manufacturers, business processes such as produce-to-pay and concept-to-delivery involve different organizations %%MDASSML%% within the company and across companies in a supply chain or value network.

To maintain a competitive edge, manufacturers must make a major strategy shift to effectively synchronize activities among functionally and geographically dispersed groups. Those with whom they need to collaborate include:

  • Customers and, in some cases, their customers’ customers

  • Distributors and channel partners

  • Material and sub-product suppliers

  • Outsourced/contract manufacturers

  • Logistics partners for distribution, warehousing and transportation

  • Providers of services such as legal and regulatory advice

  • Multiple departments and divisions within their own company and with any of those entities described above.

    • MESA’s definition of collaborative manufacturing is: a strategy by which all appropriate individuals and organizations %%MDASSML%% both internal and external to the legal enterprise %%MDASSML%% work together.

      The objectives of such a strategy are to streamline end-to-end business and supply chain processes and provide a more comprehensive and accurate information base from which to make decisions.

      Collaborative manufacturing strategies will play a crucial role in helping world-class companies increase business value in the emerging global economy.

      To successfully meet marketplace requirements, manufacturers must create business processes that leverage shared information. Fortunately, the Internet provides a relatively low-cost and widely available communication infrastructure to support such processes.

      Collaborative manufacturing is a strategy by which supply chains can effectively compete. It is a way for a company to become more efficient and agile both internally and in the way it works with its suppliers, partners and customers.

      It’s a way to improve the performance of existing company metrics and to enable measurement of new ones that cover the effectiveness of many functional entities together. Collaborative manufacturing improves decision-making processes and increases the speed by which adjustments and appropriate corrective actions are made. These processes tie together demand, design, sourcing, production and service in ways that reflect their inter-relationships and financial impacts.

      Collaborative manufacturing %%MDASSML%% people and the systems they use working together to support critical business processes %%MDASSML%% is essential to the level of agility, flexibility, low cost, customer responsiveness and financial success required in today’s markets. Collaborative manufacturing supports the extended enterprise’s ability to innovate, execute and operate profitably.

      A wide range of information system solutions must come together to support collaborative manufacturing. They must integrate the data and information between the various individuals, departments and trading partners that affect the performance of critical business processes.

      Manufacturing businesses are constantly looking for ways to improve efficiency and productivity %%MDASSML%% it’s the manufacturer’s best way to positively impact margin and market flexibility. Collaborative manufacturing is the next step in the progression of manufacturers looking to positively impact their business success.

      Implementing a collaborative manufacturing strategy is a question of when. Will it be a proactive initiative to achieve competitive advantage or a reactive response to market pressure?

      Contributors to this article include Paul Ashmore, Teradyne; Julie Fraser, Industry Directions; Charlie Gifford, ASECO Integrated Systems; Jonathan Kall, Interwave Technology; Michael McClellan, Collaboration Synergies; Ram Prabhakar, EDS; and Rob Rudder, Camstar. The full white paper can be found at the MESA Website, .

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Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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