Kevin Parker: A quick look at the varieties of intelligence needed for goods making

What do former Michigan Governor John Engler, today president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and SAS, the provider of analytic tools, have in common? At the recent SAS manufacturing executive conference, where Engler was featured speaker, both wanted the same things. SAS provides both “summary and predictive” analytic tools packaged as applications for ...


What do former Michigan Governor John Engler, today president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and SAS, the provider of analytic tools, have in common?

At the recent SAS manufacturing executive conference, where Engler was featured speaker, both wanted the same things.

SAS provides both “summary and predictive” analytic tools packaged as applications for things like demand forecasting, warranty analysis, and services optimization. At this stage in the downturn, Engler says, manufacturers have benefited, in comparison with other industries, from their “tightly controlled inventories and supply chain.”

Focus on productivity, however, brings with it other big issues, including education and globalization.

SAS, with revenues in 2007 of $2.15 billion, is the largest privately owned software company in the world. In an annual survey, about 80 percent of employees say private ownership is the one thing they don't want to change. It's easy to see why. At headquarters campus in the Raleigh-Durham area, SAS has two on-site childcare centers, a healthcare center, and a 50,000 square-foot recreation and fitness center.

In his pleasantly laconic manner, Jim Goodnight, SAS CEO and co-founder, talked about struggles companies have finding good employees. “The number of kids graduating high school hasn't gone up, and the U.S. is ranked only 18th in the world,” says Goodnight. “Kids drop out because they're bored. The world changed, but education remains based on paper and pencil. Students should have tablet PCs for doing mathematics and classrooms with 'smart' blackboards that download notes.”

SAS says it gave laptops to teachers and students at Hunt High School, Wilson County, N.C. In less than one year, discipline incidents decreased more than 12 percent and suspensions are down about 17 percent. Teachers and administrators say student engagement increased significantly.

“No-child-left-behind brings everyone down to the lowest common denominator,” said Goodnight. A true believer in the power of statistical methods, he added, “We need growth models that forecast where each child should be at the end of the year and seek to understand any shortfalls.”

Engler noted that $550 billion is spent each year on public education, “sufficient funding, but underperforming. The manufacturing workforce still includes 14 million people, and 80 percent of NAM members say they'd immediately hire those with the right skills. The K-12 system is broken. You ought to be able to go to college without remediation, or graduate from high school with a marketable skill, including simple skills, like communication.”

With consolidation in business intelligence software markets and world economic turmoil can SAS continue its generous employee and outreach programs?

Goodnight says SAS does much more than just BI, which it sees as a limited set of query tools. While Henning Kagermann, SAP CEO, has said it's inevitable that transactional and decision-support capabilities merge, Goodnight said, “SAP has convinced a lot of people it does everything. SAP bought Business Objects because its former strategy was a failure. Business Objects is just query-and-reporting in a friendly environment.”

Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2017 Top Plant.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
February 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
March 2018
SCCR, 2018 Maintenance study, and VFDs in a washdown environment.
Jan/Feb 2018
Welding ergonomics, 2017 Salary Survey, and surge protection
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
February 2018
Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
December 2017
Product of the Year winners, Pattern recognition, Engineering analytics, Revitalize older pump installations
April 2018
Implementing a DCS, stepper motors, intelligent motion control, remote monitoring of irrigation systems
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards
December 2017
PID controllers, Solar-powered SCADA, Using 80 GHz radar sensors

Annual Salary Survey

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

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Maintenance & Safety
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Industrial Analytics
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
IIoT: Operations & IT
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me