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Communication Tools Enhance Manufacturing Success

03 Oct 2011

By Mike Weber
President and CEO
Powerbrace, Inc.
Kenosha, Wisconsin

Communication is like cocaine.  It’s one of those attention-getting metaphors I’ve developed over the years as a multi-site manager.  Communication is to an organization what cocaine is to the drug user.  No matter how much they get, it never seems to be enough.  Unlike cocaine, communication is healthy: it’s the fuel that gives our organizational engines the horsepower to succeed.

We manufacture and market products, just as you probably do.  But we compete on speed.  Before factories became lean, information waited in the queue behind sluggish manufacturing process.  Moving forward, while the manufacturing guys were removing impediments to continuous flow, the tech guys were figuring out how to move information at “the speed of now”.

The manufacturing breakthroughs were vital to the bottom line, but supply-chain management, manufacturing facility coordination and product distribution are all executed through advances in information technology.

In the early days of our Mexico manufacturing expansion, enhanced communication meant lots of travel.  Travel comes with a financial burden, but transit time is another form of process waste (applied to people and time, instead of inventories and cash).  Today, we find ourselves using tools like Skype™: the free video-conferencing internet application that enables us to hold face-to-face meetings with our Manufacturing in Mexico plant and suppliers around the world.

I had Skype open on my laptop last week when Steve Colantuoni from The Offshore Group popped up.  He was in Tucson and I was in Wisconsin, but there he was on my screen – just as if he appeared in my doorway from the office down the hall.   We traded observations about technology when I mentioned our use of Skype to hold regular meetings with our manufacturing team in Mexico.  I commented that “Technology makes the border transparent”.  Companies that wish to obtain and maintain the competitive age are will advised to learn about and use what is out there.

“The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.” – Damon Runyon