Low Cost Technology - The Biggest Advantage

By Walter Curd, CIO & VP, Maxim Integrated Products

Walter Curd, CIO & VP, Maxim Integrated Products

Challenges in Technology in Manufacturing Sector and its Solutions

Maxim manufactures computer chips. The biggest challenge we face is that there are very few chip manufacturing facilities being built now so there is virtually no market for packaged software to run these. The major legacy players have products that are 20+ years old and these products are not supported by the most modern client technologies (Operating Systems, Browsers, Programming languages). Many of them don’t run on modern server technology. This means that while the rest of the enterprise is moving forward our factories are partially stuck in a technology time warp. Technology has created this problem and it should be able to be solved by technology.

Technologies that give competitive edge within the Manufacturing sector

There are two key technologies which will give Manufacturing a competitive edge. Both are on a path of rapidly declining costs.

1) Robotics – For around $35K you can get a functional programmable robot. He even has a name – Baxter. As the costs come down and the functionality improves this will mean that the cost of manufacturing in the US will become competitive with the rest of the world. The resurgence of Manufacturing in the United States will bring with it a lot of management and knowledge worker jobs to program, schedule, maintain, and manage the robotics.

2) 3D Printing – As this technology improves the ability to prototype and eventually print components onsite will give companies a competitive advantage. It will reduce cycle time and cost by eliminating transit time and shipping costs for those components.

Both of these technologies will be adopted earliest by regions with high cost labor because the payback is higher there. Hopefully we will see resurgence in local manufacturing.

Overcoming challenges to make job easier

The biggest gap that we see is software for factory automation. While there are many products for capturing manufacturing transactions the software that links machines, barcodes, and product movement together with real time factory scheduling is what needs to be improved.

Technologies giving competitive edge in the Manufacturing sector

The biggest trend for us is the “internet of things” because many of those “things” are manufacturing tools. Adding sensors to the machines that enable them to tell us much more data in real time about their status, condition, and utilization will insure higher availability and uptime and would be a big benefit.