1. Plastic my boy! The famous line from the movie The Graduate. It proves to be even more relevant today. The material sciences are advancing quickly and I am continuously looking for ways we can leverage these outcomes in automation. Jeanette Garcia shared with us her discovery of a new thermal set plastic. According to Garcia, thermal sets are the strongest materials on earth. In fact they can “self-heal”. She has also discovered a method for completely recycling this material back to a powder format. The possibilities of on-site production with additive manufacturing techniques is mind blowing. Plastics will be some of the “greenest” materials in the future. Jeanette truly believes that plastics are the next sustainable revolution. When it comes to automation and linear motion we usually have the mindset of trying to achieve the longest life and duty cycles possible. But are there areas of usage where a short lived fully recyclable system would have value?

  2. Business Intelligence on super steroids. That is what is possible according to Jerry M. Chow as quantum processes and computing becomes mainstream. We will crunch data like never before. With IoT and all the sensor data we will soon be capturing in manufacturing this opens up brand new frontiers to explore and exploit. We will soon all be talking about qubits. What will quantum computing make possible in the world of automation? The ideas and possibilities are truly endless and a bit mind stretching. Having “Smart” and “Intelligent” systems will be so much more than the way we define today.

  3. Embrace Millennials now. Jared Kleinert shared the power and the positives of the millennial generation and as a workforce. I am very excited to see the impacts and changes that millennials will make in the manufacturing sector. Is your company ready to tap into this generation? Kleinart truly believes this is a generation that will change the world. It is a generation that only knows the internet as a reality, as a whole they embrace entrepreneurialism, and they have the ability to collaborate on a mass scale. This is a generation that is comfortable partnering globally, especially around a cause. They believe that entrepreneurship is a mindset, not the need to run a company. This is a generation that is fighting the vicious cycle of normalcy. That restlessness will be pervasive very soon within all of our company cultures. I’m excited to see the impact this will make to how we do product development; as well as how we interact with our supply chain partners.

  4. Revolutionary Innovation. When you look at innovation it tends to be viewed as a process that is evolutionary. Shoel Perelman advocates that the best innovation can occur when rebels get involved. He calls it revolutionary innovation. Revolutionary innovation usually is acquired from the outside. It is not how most companies look at this process today, however with the Cloud this is changing more and more. Shoel advocates partnering with “rebels” within your company to fuel this type of innovative process. Frustrated rebels leave, but 90% of startups fail. Rebels can be tapped to help reinvent companies from the inside out. Rebels are an asset that Shoel advocates should be embraced. Give your rebels a cause to solve and create innovation around.

Think!

The take away in the end from all of this is that how we think about, as well as how we currently run our business model, is going to drastically change; especially in the manufacturing sector. Material science advancement, quantum computing, technology and the changing demographics of our workforce promise exciting and exponential changes for us in the near future. I can’t wait!