SMT007 Magazine

SMT007-Mar2021

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22 SMT007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2021 not very well coor- dinated. It's meant to benef it indiv id- ual businesses. I'm sure there are some academic partnerships that are helping to drive automation, but it's piecemeal as opposed to what we see in China. Matties: I wonder what the motivation will ulti- mately be, because if you can still go to China and buy it cheap, why invest in a smart factory here? Rodgers: at's a good point. It's a significant investment, and it's also a significant change in the way these factories are being run. In some cases, the technology itself already exists. We don't have to invent anything new, but actually implementing it is still more expensive than just buying it off the shelf. We're always going to take the path of lowest resistance. Matties: Maybe, as we see, there's an acknowl- edged shortage of engineering labor for imple- menting a smart factory. Rodgers: Yes, there's a lot of emphasis on employment, which I think is important. I understand why people are worried, but these smart factories will require fewer people to run them. If our emphasis is on employment— keeping more people and just growing the size of the labor force or trying to save old 20th century jobs—we're going to miss the bus completely. SMT007 Look for the full interview with Tim Rodgers in an upcoming supply chain issue of SMT007 Magazine. Feature Interview Excerpt During a recent interview with Dr. Tim Rod- gers that focused on supply chain management, the conversation also touched on smart facto- ries. We've included Tim's insights on smart processes here. Dr. Tim Rodgers is a faculty instructor at the University of Colorado Boulder, Leeds School of Business. Before joining the faculty at Leeds, Dr. Rodgers worked in a variety of senior posi- tions in operations and supply chain manage- ment at both multinational corporations and mid-sized companies. Barry Matties: Do you see automation as the big equalizer here in America? ere's got to be a push for this as we're seeing smart factories, and such. Tim Rodgers: Certainly, the companies that are investing in smart factories, smart tech- nology, and more automation are going to come out ahead. I'm seeing a lot more of this in China than in the U.S. Part of that is because it's become a national imperative; the national government is supporting that push toward smart factories, whereas in the U.S., it tends to be more of an individual com- pany initiative. I'm a little bit worried. I us ed to believe that we didn't have a lot to fear because American ingenuity and engineering would figure out the next best way to man- ufacture and those new technologies would derive from the U.S. I'm a little less optimistic now, just because we're only seeing some smart factory islands and some innovations around the Internet of ings. All of that is wonderful, but it's Coming Out Ahead With Smart Processes Tim Rodgers

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