1660338838380 Article 189 Craig

Maintaining a competitive edge

June 29, 2007
WBF gives a leg up to manufacturers looking to take advantage of the automation/information nexus.

By Lynn Craig

Is manufacturing dead or dying in the United States? Well, it depends on how the manufacturing is done. The old-fashioned kind, where thousands of hours of backbreaking labor went into making most any product sure is mostly overseas now. On the other hand, a lot of modern manufacturing—the kind done with excellent, well-thought-out automation and information integration—is doing pretty well, thank you.

The key difference is the growing excellence in automation and information integration. This integration provides the tools that allow manufacturing enterprises to run leaner, smarter, predictably and with precision and flexibility. Manufacturing at that level of excellence is hard to do, but in today’s world it’s necessary to compete and prosper. It isn’t easy to reach that level—that is why there are so few engineers and manufacturing professionals who have learned to use the technologies that make it possible.

If you manage a manufacturing operation, are your engineers and manufacturing professionals learning the new technologies? If they are not, they inevitably are losing value year by year. They are probably working hard and trying to keep up with new things when they can, but the new technologies are more challenging than those of the past and require a planned approach to succeed. Technologies learned in school are already dated and are not enough. Trade literature helps, but only through interaction with experts in the field and peers who are trying to learn the same things can your employees really break through.

WBF is a unique tool to help your engineers and manufacturing professionals become acquainted with and eventually expert in the new manufacturing technologies that can carry a manufacturing company through 2020 and beyond. It is a nonprofit organization that for the last 15 years has been providing a way for professionals who want to use the new manufacturing technologies and methods to learn from each other; to find out what works and what doesn’t; to gain insights about the application of these technologies and ways to control cost and risk. The bottom line is that, if your engineers and professionals in manufacturing are not members of WBF and have not been participating in WBF conferences and training opportunities, they are likely falling further and further behind.

WBF is not expensive. An individual WBF membership is only $50. An individual can attend a conference with its associated tutorial courses for less than $1,000. A $5,000 operating company sponsorship will cover the cost for several people to attend conferences and tutorials and most web training seminar opportunities. It is a no-lose proposition. A professional is an expensive resource. Keeping that resource up to date in current technologies should cost more than this—but it doesn’t—and one good idea brought home will pay back the cost.

  About the Author
Lynn Craig is well known for his work on batch control standards and for the WBF. Lynn first joined the SP88 Committee in 1989 and eventually became its chairman. He lead the efforts in generating parts 3, 4 and 5 of the batch control standard and is now pursuing an initiative to get the ANSI/ISA-88 and 95 standards together. He was made a member of the Control Hall of Fame in 2003.

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