Category: Manufacturing

Process improvement—useful does not mean used

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 5 months and 8 days ago

Lean production, high performance work systems, virtual communications, and collaboration applications are all examples of the latest tools, technology, and processes executives are encouraged to implement in efforts to improve productivity and efficiency. But why are there more useful tools and processes out there than there are organizations that use them?

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The need for supply chain flexibility

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 5 months and 22 days ago

According to David Simchi-Levi, Professor of Engineering Systems at MIT Sloan, “a growing number of U.S. executives are moving some production operations back from overseas.” While there are a great number of factors driving that trend, one is the need for supply chain flexibility. Today’s global supply chain presents a significant amount of risk, mostly due to the combination of geographically diverse supply chains and Just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing that results in low inventory levels. 

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Changing the role of human resources

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 7 months and 25 days ago

Google “HR” and “seat at the table” and you’ll find articles from nearly ten years ago lamenting why the human resources function does not have such a seat—in other words, it has little voice in the executive suite. Part of the reason may be how HR practitioners view themselves. The 2013 State of Talent Managers Report from New Talent Management Network found that “the modest and siloed career ambitions among those in HR suggests that we must either meaningfully shift how we grow HR talent or become comfortable having marginal impact…[as a result] talent leaders will likely develop more myopic and less strategic solutions.”

There is great potential if companies can change how they view HR—and how HR views itself. Commenting on President Obama’s plans to improve the economy by strengthening the manufacturing sector, Tom Kochan, Professor of Work and Employment Research and Engineering Systems at MIT Sloan, told HR Executive Online, “One of the most important factors in [the manufacturing industry’s] success is HR.”

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To automate or not: That is the manufacturing question

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 8 months and 1 day ago

When it comes to manufacturing in today’s economy, increased automation in manufacturing plants may seem like a given. Factories first opened their doors to modern industrial robots in 1961 when Unimate—a 4,000-pound (1,814-kilogram) arm attached to a giant steel drum—joined the General Motors workforce, and they have since become a mainstay of mass production. When a job is just right for a robot, productivity tends to increase dramatically.

However, not all companies are going the way of automation on the assembly line, especially when trading humans for machines goes against their brand.

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Does the return of manufacturing to the U.S. mean more jobs?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 11 months and 28 days ago

The return of manufacturing to the U.S., also referred to as the “repatriation” or “re-shoring” by American and non-American companies alike, on the surface sounds like good news for employment. However, this is not necessarily the case. Although manufacturing output over the last 60 years has grown roughly by 3.7% annually, employment has stayed mostly flat during this time. Why does this continue to be true, even as many companies have been moving manufacturing back to the U.S. since 2010?

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Yes, a robot may take your job

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 year and 18 days ago

Smart machines are everywhere we go. They’re on the plant floor manufacturing our cars, and they are in our grocery stores scanning our purchases. In the case of the iPhone and Siri, they are even in our pockets. And that means that smart machines and robots will be taking more and more jobs. As Erik Brynjolfsson, Professor of Information Technology at MIT Sloan School of Management said on CBS’ 60 Minutes, “There are lots of examples of routine, middle-skilled jobs that are being eliminated the fastest.

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Will risk result in reward for Boeing’s Dreamliner?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 year and 4 months and 9 days ago

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been making headlines since it was introduced to the public in 2003. Unfortunately, recent headlines have not been good. Boeing’s manufacturing decisions for their leading-edge airplane present a good case to examine when considering outsourcing versus vertical integration. As MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Donald B. Rosenfield asks in his class, Developing a Leading Edge Operations Strategy, “How much supply risk is too much?”

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