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The Future of Manufacturing

This is one of two editorial reports about current events shaping the Manufacturing Industry. This event took place during the month of May, 2001. These article are about the current industrial revolution, but most of the innovations will soon be standards in the industry.

A visit to Chicago's Association for Facilities Engineering Chapter:

The month of May I visited Chicago's AFE Chapter. Attending their May 3rd Symposium, I met a lot of great people, but it was a special pleasure meeting Michael Doyle (Mikie) in person.   It was also great to meet  Joel Leonard (VP of National Membership) in person for the first time. Mikie, as Chicago's webmaster, has been instrumental in the creation of our great AFE-St. Louis web site. Mikie and Joel have been a great help the the rejuvenation of our St. Louis Chapter. 

The symposium was all day long, held at Lucent's new Lisle building. The architecture was amazing, sporting a giant sun roof constructed in the shape of a satellite dish. This location will house the Bell Research Labs, inventors of great toys like the Text-to-Speech Synthesis.

  You can use it on-line for free! Check it out, it's fun. I want to thank Lucent for being such a great host.

Being relatively new to AFE, I was able to learn a lot about how AFE functions are held. AFE symposiums are a great way to meet leaders in our industry and learn about new technology. You'll find not only local business attend these seminars, but leaders from a far. I met key members from our Indiana Chapter, even the Chief Editor from Plant Engineering Magazine. There was AFE members from 6 different chapters representing 4 regions, present.

So why add this meeting to our "Future of Manufacturing" series? At AFE seminars you are presented with classes on the latest technology, crucial to remaining competitive in today's industry. At AFE Chicago's symposium, we had speakers from many disciplines. Starting out, Lucent spoke about the kind of team work it took to construct such an impressive building, and keep it in budget. A big part of this accomplishment was a result of Ragner Benson Inc.'s. RBI started a Facility Improvement Team division this year and spoke at the Symposium. Wise words; "Facilitating good communication and achieving productive working relationship among all team members lie at the heart of RBI's requirements."

Check out SensorWatchONDEO Nalco empowered us with the information needed to improve our operations.
SensorWatch a New Technology from ONDEO Nalco was truly amazing. Their equipment will be the way of the future. These sensors are web based, wireless data monitoring. They operate on battery power, transmit to a base unit that is connected to the customer's LAN. From there, via the Internet, the information goes to a monitoring site. The site has several redundant servers and back up systems. Nalco personnel monitor incoming data 24/7, and user software allows remote monitoring with custom alarm settings. They say; "Sleep better knowing your process is being watched 24/7". This new technology addresses reliability, predictive maintenance, and all other areas of efficient equipment operation.

We learned about "Value Engineering" and how we use it to our benefit? Scott Calkins, Joel Leonard  (on right in picture) of Plumlee Associates where very informative. Scott gave us insight on the Reliability-Focused Asset Management process. Of particular interest to my business was his section on performance measurements and business intelligence. He reminded me of the importance of equipment criticality ranking, and how manufacturing must start there before they can obtain true control over process cost. Scott says" To focus asset management efforts on the most critical equipment, first we must rank all equipment according to the breakdown likelihood and consequence combination.

grainger banner (white)Even Grainger was there to teach us how to use their online Internet based total MRO solution software. There where a couple items that stand out from the vast Internet MRO search solutions, that need mentioned. One, their partnership with, that not only has many online databases, but if you can't find something, submit it to them, and they will find it for you. When asked what was the response time, "typically, less than 24 hours", was the reply. The other innovation was their local office working on integrating their online billing/history database with customer's CMMS software. Now that's the future, more power from information with less management interaction.


In the future, more and more of industry's management will realize the necessity to belong to AFE, to keep current on the latest technology. We learned in this one day seminar, new efficient management techniques, all vital equipment will have wireless battery powered sensors, and the internet will integrate most of the vast industrial information we need to remain competitive. Through AFE we don't have to wait until the technology is standard, we can be the leaders in our respective markets.

Would you like to know more? With AFE, you have direct contact!
Tushar Shah of Lucent Technologies 
Mike Williams of Avaya 
Richard Seiler of Ragnar Benson
Scott Calkins of Plumlee Associates
 Robert Hackeloer of Grainger.Com
Frank Sospenzi of ONDEO Nalco
Russ Bartmess of Nicor
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