One thing I found that was interesting (it will be in an upcoming story) is that cost competition among automation and motion control hardware vendors is driving down costs. So not all of the emerging efficiencies are coming at a premium price. Plus, automation vendors are well aware their products and systems have to deliver a clear return on investment if they're going to get the order.
Yes, you're right, Rob, I think a lot has to do with the technology. I think sometimes maybe there is a cultural resistance to implementing some of the technology that will makes things more efficient because initially it seems more expensive. But in the long run, I think it will benefit manufacturers.
My one run-in with lean manufacturing and the culture that it begets was a few years back, at the Nissan plant in Arkansas. I shipped some machine parts there in preparation for installation on a machine I would be working on in another day. MY shipping instructions included a request to deliver the package of custome cables to the post coordinates of the machine that I would be working on, so that I would not need to get them from the shipping department area.
When I arrived the next day and attempted to locate the cable assemblies I found out that they had already been scrapped because they were not needed at that moment, or in the next few hours. which was a big waste of time and very expensive connectors.
I am still not impressed by that aspect of japanese lean manufacturing. It comes across as a stupid obsession with neatness and a refusal to think.
Well put Battar. However, it seems the public has voted to raise the minimum wage irregardless of the impact on the cost of doing business. So once again the "Kiazan" events will start "to reduce waste". However, this time I think it will actually mean a few of the lowered skilled people will go.
My philosophy is to expand my skill base so I am never veiwed as waste!