As we approach the bicentenary of French poet Charles Baudelaire, the man credited with coining the term “modernity,” not to mention influencing modern French and English literature, this quote of his seems applicable to the state of manufacturing in today’s über-modern global marketplace:
“Nearly all our originality comes from the stamp that time impresses upon our sensibility.”
Or, to put it in terms of modern manufacturing: the faster the time-to-market, the greater the innovation. This thought occurred to me (not for the first time, admittedly) while watching television. The flat panel TV I was watching—a Panasonic Smart Viera 55” VT50 plasma display with eight built-in speakers for improved audio—is an example of the explosion of new televisions that has redefined the TV market. The content we see on television may not be very innovative, but the TVs we are watching it on are decidedly so.
A recent USA Today article noted that, the average price of flat-panel displays and the average price that consumers are paying for TVs are rising. As the author notes, “Retailers and TV makers like selling higher-priced models because they make more money off them. And shoppers are willing to pay for sets that are bigger and have more features.”
To meet this consumer demand, consistent innovation is a must. A recession typically isn’t the best time to splurge on new innovations, but players in the television manufacturing industry aren’t pulling back. A look at the television technology unveiled at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas gives us a sense of the pace of innovation:
- Samsung and LG showed televisions using organic light emitting diodes (OLED).
- Sony’s crystal display is called “a baseball scoreboard shrunk down into a 55” television.” There are 6 million LEDs inside the screen.
- Toshiba’s glasses-free 3D LCD will be the first glasses-free 3D television to hit the American market.
- Both Samsung and Panasonic introduced upgrades to their award-winning plasma displays.
This need for new products mandates effective innovation and rapid rollout to market across a range of manufacturing sectors. Consider this: revenue from new products in the manufacturing sector was 35 percent, up from 21 percent. In more than 70 percent of products sold will be obsolete.
Today’s manufacturing systems supports product innovation by helping to improve product quality. They do this by providing access to as-built and field-use performance data for root cause determination to learn from past successes and mistakes. Today’s manufacturing execution software systems also facilitates concurrent product and process development with structured process design modeling to provide research and development the foundation for real-time visibility and feedback of prototypes and pilot runs. This improves understanding of process feasibility for genuine design for manufacturability, and provides product performance intelligence to support quality by design.
These benefits should impress upon the sensibilities of those manufacturing in today’s global milieu.