Monday, April 5, 2010

AMT/NCMS Manufacturing Technology Forum and "China Time"

On Monday March 29th to Wednesday March 31st, AMT and NCMS hosted a great technology forum for their members in Nashville on the 59 acre Gaylord Opryland.   As stated on the NCMS events website, "The 2010 AMT/NCMS Manufacturing Technology Forum will highlight new initiatives addressing “Green in Manufacturing.” Guest speakers will discuss what is going on, what is needed and what you can expect in meeting new manufacturing requirements."

Paul Warndorf was the host along with Richard Garmin of NCMS.  

There  were a number of great speakers and below is a listing of some of the highlights that stuck with me:

  • Richard Garmin of NCMS got everyone's attention by starting off with the statement that there are some people who incorrectly view manufacturing as "dead, dumb and disappearing".    Rick set the stage for a very engaging and interactive three days.
  • Rick Garmin said by 2020 that 50% of all autos manufactured will have non combustion power trains.
  • Dr. Dave Dornfeld of UCB and Director of LMAS, discussed that technology evolutions will come in terms of wedges for machine tools and manufacturing that will increase efficiency and production.
  • Jeffrey Walker of DOE's Industrial Technologies Program discussed ISO 50001, the "Save Energy Now Toolbox" and a number of software tools such as MotorMaster+ for analyzing motor efficiency.
  • Jim Reeb of Caterpillar asked a very thought provoking question,"how do you hibernate a machine tool while maintaining thermal stability?"
  •  Dr. Christian Brecher, Professor Dr.-Ing. WZL RWTH Aachen, Germany, gave a very interesting talk and made the statement, "MTConnect is the perfect system."  Dr. Brecher also discussed the concept of the total digital factory.  I pointed out that until the machine tool vendors totally open up their systems, this will never be truly possible to achieve.
  • Dr. Tom Kurfess of CU-ICAR stated that "80% of the cars BMW makes in the US are exported." This was a very impressive statistic.  Dr. Kurfess also pointed out that when we see machine tools spitting out gigabytes of data per hour, the ability to store and analyze this data will be critical.  He also pointed out that it takes 3x the energy to build a car in the US versus Europe, but our power cost is 1/3 the price of Europe.   Imagine if we had Europe's efficiencies?
  • Dr. Kurfess also pointed out that a BMW diesel that is running in LA will have cleaner air coming out of the tail pipe than what went into the air box at the front of the car.  Amazing....  
If there was one presentation that really got my attention it was on China's progress in R&D and manufacturing.  Here are some fascinating statistics:

  • The United States graduated 77,000 engineers in 2009.
    • China graduated 1.6 MILLION engineers in 2009.
  • In a five year time period, China went from having to import bullet trains from France, to designing, manufacturing and exporting their own bullet trains to other countries.  This absolutely blew me away.
    • The next day I heard on NPR the term the describes the above phenomenon as "China Time".   When and not if, "China Time" becomes the new Innovate-to-Product standard, then other countries will have to totally rethink how they compete in the global market place.
The question for every company, not just machine tool vendors, will be, "how do you compete in "China Time"?

In addition to the Technology Forum, we had multiple conference and committee meetings as well which were very productive.

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