Volume 20 Number 2 - February 1, 2022

My mission is simple. I am devoted to enabling people working in manufacturing to recognize and achieve their potential; through that each of you contributes to an improved quality of life for all you touch. Mission matters. That of your business, and yours personally.

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Disruptive Technologies in Manufacturing

I am the volunteer lead for the Disruptive Technologies track of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence 2022 International Conference to be held in Dallas in October. There are 11 sessions to fill with experienced tales by practitioners who have “been there, done that” for those technologies I believe to be disruptive to our industry.

Several are already committed, and more are in discussions as you read this. It makes no sense to finalize disruptive technology case studies a year before the conference, so I’m hard at work now.

Here is the definition of “disruptive technologies for manufacturing” that I am using:

  • No grand theories here; must be currently in use with verifiable results
  • I expect it to significantly impact manufacturing competitiveness within 3-5 years
  • It is viable in both greenfield and brownfield operations and businesses.

Identifying and selecting the technologies and business cases based on real experience is fun, exciting, and challenging. It’s my responsibility to ensure that every conference attendee can see for their businesses the potential, large or small, of each of the technologies discussed.

Yes, artificial intelligence that provides prescriptive analytics for batch and process industries may not be copy/paste for discrete businesses, but the concepts are there and on the way. And nothing is really copy/paste if you want it to work for you.

I may include a new business model as one of the presentations.  Several of these disruptive technologies enable new ways of creating and delivering value that are best leveraged by changing the way we do business, and numerous companies large and small are making that shift.

But will any attendees act?

Many manufacturers still haven’t optimized the use of ERP systems, nor the philosophy that is Lean (TPS), or any of the  other “transformations” that are described in business journals. “Disruptive” and “transformation” seem to be common words in use but rare in successful implementation in our manufacturing industries.


Transformation begins with the firm commitment to create a new future leaving behind much of the thinking and doing of the past. Giving birth to a new culture cannot retain prior unwanted behaviors and processes and requires changing many that were merely neutral. Creating new value profitably that propels your customers to the front of their industries is not a one-off.

It’s time to jump in the deep end. Or run from the shallow to the deep as quickly as is humanly possible. Possible, not comfortable. If you don’t know how to swim – lead significant change – you better find someone to help you right now. Waiting will only lull you to sleep while others leave you in their wake.

Those who cannot envision a new future cannot create it. But those who can, do. And a significant number are making digital transformations leveraging disruptive technologies right now. Do you know any that are truly transforming their operations and businesses? If not, it is time to find better contacts.

The 11 that will present as part of my track are not all that different from you. Except, perhaps, in one major way. They are not satisfied with current realities and know to the core of their beings that the future requires a vastly different value proposition based on very different competencies. Narrowing down the many stories to 11 is not easy.

Whether you breathe your own exhaust, or that of those creating new value for your markets, you won’t have enough fresh air.

As always, start now, and……

The Starting Pistol

"The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new."

The Tape

Rebecca Morgan:
"You are not leaving first base; you are running towards second."

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