Collaboration = Innovation
The Advanced Remanufacturing & Technology Center (ARTC) here in Singapore is the perfect example of the ideal collaboration environment where industry problem statements are presented to a host of innovative solutions providers and researchers to be tackled. By working in unison to drive innovation instead of re-inventing the wheel, the ARTC leverages and enhances this "wheel" with technology, knowhow and expertise from a variety of different industries to deliver amazing and rapid results to shop floors globally.
Instead of monopolizing research and solutioning, or attempting to monetize and hoard technology that we see elsewhere, the ARTC fosters open collaboration and transparency to enable solutions to shine by integrating best-in-class toolsets, instead of opting for a jack-of-all-trades provider. This philosophy has made the ARTC the envy and a shining star of advanced manufacturing research and is sought after for emulation and replication.
Bring the ARTC Concept Into Your Shop Floor
This concept of collaboration can be and should be applied to your own shop floors. There is no such thing anymore of a "one-stop solutions provider to solve all problems." The simple reason for this is that technology and solutions are being introduced and perfected at a lightning pace globally. It's simply impossible for one provider to be the best at all areas ranging from warehousing, scheduling, quality control, inspections, etc. all at the same time.
What is required is a collaborative engagement that allows best-in-class solutions to rise to the top. Be skeptical if solutions providers approach you to say they can do it all and have trouble working with others. A huge red flag is to hear a supplier say they're hesitant to integrate with others and insist on doing it themselves. Don't let procurement or paperwork be a hinderance to settling with a "one-size-fits-all solution." Select the best-in-class solution for the particular use case/pain point, and test and validate through forcing integration between the vendors/providers to really see how flexible their toolsets are.
It doesn't mean you'll always find the best-in-class solutions right away, but what you should focus on is enabling those solutions to come in and replace legacy systems ASAP. In order to do this, you'll need a flexible and modular solution that's focused on integration.
Futureproofing = Modular Replacement through Integration
Nothing lasts forever. That includes the latest and greatest digital and automation tools you may have purchased. As technology continues to evolve and innovate at breakneck speeds, holding on to one solution forever is not only sub-optimal, but will be a hinderance to optimization and growth.
Ensuring all your solutions are modular, from software to hardware, and are easily integrated through APIs and open communication standards that are secure and well-documented, will ensure you'll have the capability to rip old things out and plug new things in quickly and efficiently. Getting the mindset of everyone within the organization to look at toolsets and solutions as transitory and always ready for the next upgrade ensures a mentality of continuous upgrades and improvements.
This is the only true futureproof way to remain competitive, efficient, environmentally sustainable and profitable in the long run.
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