The Industrial Revolution 4.0: The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things The fourth industrial revolution, The Internet of Things, is well underway. Some are calling it Manufacturing 4.0, although I think this is a limited view. Let’s briefly recap the major industrial milestones. Many consider the steam engine to be the first industrial revolution. The second industrial revolution started with the conveyor […]

Is Risk Tolerance Decreasing for US Businesses and Workers?

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal [1] may lead one to believe both American small businesses and American workers are becoming more risk-averse. My question: “Is risk tolerance decreasing for US businesses and workers or are individuals and businesses simply faced with more potential hazards, possessing more severe consequences, than ever before?” Perhaps […]

Transaction Cost

Every transaction has a cost. For a buyer and seller to consummate a transaction, both parties must expend the effort, energy and expense. From the buyer’s perspective, the transaction cost must be proportional to the value of the goods or services they are selling. From the seller’s perspective, the total costs of attracting the buyers […]

Managing Virtual Workflow

What do we mean by virtual workflow and how does it differ from physical workflow? Virtual workflow tends to be invisible which makes it difficult to manage.  Making the virtual workflow visible becomes our difficult challenge. Physical workflow, such as parts in an assembly process or old fashioned paperwork, tends to be somewhat visible just […]

Workflow Fundamentals

What is the essence of workflow? As the word implies, we want to keep work flowing. Value is threatened when workflow stops, is hindered, obstructed or slowed down. Lean manufacturing methods and tools are for making the work visible to keep it flowing. Workflow visibility allows management to manage workflow processes and gives each worker […]

Modularity – Options & Committing Capital

Automation projects and facility projects share a common trait: the commitment to large capital projects for long periods of time. The typical commitment is five to ten years in duration and options may extend the life of the commitment by another five to ten years. The company can either benefit or suffer for a long […]

Automation is the Key to Growth

Automation is the key to growth. Why is this? Because automation is one of few ways to improve efficiency, and only with efficiency do we obtain the additional retained earnings necessary to support spending on new revenue-generating capability. The equation is that simple. Cash for growth can only come from investments or from retained earnings. […]