Top Ten Manufacturing Stories of 2012

It's been an exciting year for manufacturing with a host of trends and technologies reaffirming it as not only the world's most important industry, but reigniting people's passion for creating things. Manufacturing Digital considers the advent of cloud computing, the rise of mobility, the proliferation of social media and the mainstream debut of 3D Printing to count down its top ten features of the past year
 2013 looks set to be an even better year for industry

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10. GraphExeter could transform the electronics industry: A research team from the Center for Graphene Science Graphene.jpgat the University of Exeter announced the development of GraphExeter in spring, hailed as “the most lightweight, flexible, transparent material ever for conducting electricity.” GraphExeter could change the way many electronic devices are manufactured, including new flexible touchscreens for existing gadgets, as well as new ‘smart’ products such as fabrics, windows and mirrors.

9. Why does Kaizen endure in the modern manufacturing environment?A guest contribution from manufacturing consultant, author and all-round expert, Patricia Moody ignited plenty of discussion earlier this year, as she suggested how Kaizen’s philosophy of continuous improvement has been constantly evolving to remain relevant, not only now but for many years to come.

8. Adding mobility and collaboration to the product lifecycle through Industrial Intelligence:In August, Kevin Davenport and Peter GraFloor collaboration.jpgnger explored how investing in Industrial Intelligence best places manufacturers to respond to the trends and challenges of today’s modern competitive environment. The duo put forward the argument that those organisations which have already adopted Industrial Intelligence are already gaining a sustainable business advantage and redefining what it takes to win in a globalised, just-in-time world.

7. Does every Cloud have a silver lining for manufacturers? Ahead of the phenomenal rise of cloud computing and associated services, IT expert Stuart James explained that though cloud computing can be a profitable solution for many manufacturers, there a number of aspects which need to be considered first to avoid confusion and costly mistakes.  

6. Everything you need to know about 5S: Manufacturing Digital’s useful guide to 5S continues to prove extr5S_Tools_drawer 1.jpgemely popular since first being published in June. A simple yet effective way to stimulate efficiency, work flow and production rates, the easy-to-follow guide breaks 5S down into its component parts – Sorting, Systemising, Sanitising, Standardising and Sustaining.

5. Growing supply chain disruption encourages re-shoring: In the summer, Manufacturing Digital brought you the story that increased disruptions to supply chains, arising from uncertain global economics or devastating natural disasters, is causing a rising number of companies to bring production back in-house and search for more locally-based procurement opportunities

4. Manufacturers and social media: Back in March, Paul Devlin predicted a steadily growing trend, putting forward the case that social media was an essential communication channel for manufacturers; though a study by Green Roots Marketing the following month revealed that many manufacturers were still unsure of the opportunities the internet made available. However as the year draws to a close, 2012 will be known as the year manufacturers really began to embrace social media, realising that the possibilities go far beyond solely being simply an advert for a brand or company.

3. 3D Printing3D Printing.jpg leading the world into the new age of industrial design: Back when the days were a lot lighter and brighter, Clément Moreau, CEO and co-Founder of pioneering online 3D Printing company Sculpteo, described how 3D Printing is radically changing the way bespoke are designed and manufactured for both businesses and consumers alike.  

2. How can we propel the re-shoring of manufacturing? ERP Analyst Derek Singleton discussed how North America could more efficiently coax domestic manufacturers back to its shores; reflecting on the benefits of creating a more educated workforce, a greater utilisation of automated assembly processes and the need for companies to evaluate their true Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

1. Environmental Waste Solutions aims to banish landfills to the scrapheap: I had the pleasureLandfill.jpg of speaking with one of the men behind EWS Holdings, retired Royal Engineer Richard Wardrop back in May; and the things we discussed have stayed with me ever since. Pioneering a cutting-edge approach to the disposal of municipal waste in Sub-Saharan Africa, EWS utilise a novel non-incineration technology originally employed to deal with low and intermediate-level radioactive waste.

As Wardrop himself says: “We not only maintain, but create local jobs and businesses, and use a totally sustainable process. We eliminate landfill, we save the land destined for the landfills of tomorrow, we reduce the rodent and disease problem, we exceed every major emission regulation, we remove the need to stockpile recycled materials, we solve the tyre situation and we create millions of tonnes worth of carbon credits every year. The important question is why is this not on every government’s agenda around the world.”

                Why, indeed.

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