Personalities in Manufacturing: Building A Better Future with Innovation

Updated: Jan 12

If you missed it, check out the IMTS spark interview with Siemens USA President and CEO Barbara Humpton. She touched upon a number of subjects, but here are a few key takeaways.

Barbara shared her thoughts on the role that manufacturing is playing during the pandemic and ways that the industry has been strengthened by its many challenges. People she has talked to in the industry say the pace of change has quickened and the pandemic has been a catalyst. New technologies and ways of providing services have been accelerated, such as virtual commissioning, augmented reality, and, of course, videoconferencing.

Barbara talked about the concept anti-fragility, which goes beyond resilience. Anti-fragility makes you stronger from disruption, similar to building muscle when you work out. A resilient company resists shocks and stays the same; an antifragile company gets better and stronger. This is what she believes is happening in the manufacturing industry right now.

She also discussed the use of the digital twin during the pandemic to help increase national resilience. Some companies created digital twins of equipment such as ventilators, and others, such as Medtronic, created a digital twin of its supply chain to make faster and more strategic supply chain decisions. She wondered at the possibility of using the digital twin to build a national stockpile of equipment and supplies for future emergencies – a strategic national digital twin stockpile. Manufacturers have comprehensive digital information on their products now, so this is feasible.

Barbara ended the interview with some ideas for how and where smaller shops could get started with digital manufacturing and the digital twin. Some universities are becoming hubs for digital manufacturing and housing software for companies in a region or across a market segment. Another good way to get started is by contacting the USA Manufacturing Institute in Chicago and their Manufacturing times Digital (MxD) program (https://www.manufacturingusa.com/institutes/mxd), which brings together partners from universities, industry, startups, and government to solve challenges of technology advancement through a shared R&D testbed, a digital factory of the future, and a Digital Capability Center.

Barbara has a podcast called #OptimisticOutlook, where you can stay connected to her thoughts on industry news and trends. Follow it here: https://bit.ly/2LcMRVz.