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Meshing Education and Industrial Needs: Two Views A View From Industry EDWARD A. STEIGERWALD WlIAT IS THE PROBLEM? The clearly declining competitiveness of the United States in the world marketplace has prompted increased concern about the health of U.S. manufacturing. Considerably shaken by foreign competition, the U.S. long-standing market dominance in manufactured goods is now threatened and, in some industries, lost. No longer is the future of American industrial development a clear extension of the past. In a great many cases, this problem derives from an earlier attitude of complacency, which resulted in a less than adequate job of evaluating and implementing new procedures and techniques that would enable U.S. industry to cope better with changing market conditions and competitive pressures. Another basis of this problem is that insufficient resources have been devoted to the manufacturing function. Thus it has not progressed at the required rate and major changes are needed to create a manufacturing base able to compete successfully. Several trends within both individual firms and industry sectors have contributed to the loss of manufacturing dominance: · The shift away from manufacturing and industrial engineering as the driving function in manufacturing operations; · A separation of production and manufacturing from other corporate functions, such as research and finance; and · The decline of investment in manufacturing resources. Edward A. Steigerwald is vice-president of productivity, TRW Inc., Cleveland, Ohio. 48
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MESHING EDUCATION AND INDUSTRIAL NEEDS The Shift Away From Manufacturing and Industrial Engineering 49 During the early fifties, there was a strong emphasis on the role of the manufacturing and industrial engineer in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of manufacturing operations. Companies encouraged these professionals to establish engineered material and labor stand- ards, methods studies, attention to plant layout, toutings, and sched- uling. This concerted effort led to strong manufacturing operations. Since then, however, the number of students studying the industrial engineering disciplines has declined. Simultaneously, engineering schools have shifted from an educational emphasis on the basic manufacturing industries toward the more glamorous applications of engineering that have not yet been fully applied to the manufacturing floor. Although there is a growing understanding of the importance of manufacturing as an engineering discipline, most students, counselors, and teachers are still deluged with statements dealing with the decline of the traditional manufacturing-oriented industries and a transformation into an information society. Separation of Production and Manufacturing The second trend has been a strong tendency to divide functionally and conquer. The engineering perspective has broken down manufac- turing operations into small segments, which has tended to maximize the performance of each segment often at the expense of optimum integration of the whole manufacturing operation. This problem be- comes even more severe when the interface of manufacturing with the other company functions is considered for example, more effective coupling of both the manufacturing and market strategies into a cohesive competitive strategy. Decline of Investments The third trend has been a tendency to minimize financial investment in manufacturing resources. Classic accounting principles have stressed short-term cost reduction or short-term return on investment, resulting in an improper job of anticipating and managing the change process. Progress requires making investments in new equipment, new proc- esses, and human resources. Only recently has the importance of continued broad investment in manufacturing to take advantage of innovations been reemphasized (see Figure 1~. Most processes involve an incubation period, followed by a steady, relatively rapid increase in the output parameter. At some
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so STEIGERWALD I CANNON IMPACT OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES o /EW TECHNOLOGY / /OLD TECHNOLOGY / TIME _ J FIGURE 1 Characteristics of rapid productivity development. point, the process reaches maturity and process productivity slows considerably. To maintain a steady, high rate of progress, continual moves must be made to new processes (a new technology curve) so that an average performance characteristic of the rapid growth portion occurs continuously. Indeed, outstanding manufacturing operations clearly operate and invest on this basis. WHAT ARE THE NEEDS? The needs for manufacturers and educators can be simply stated as attaining "excellence in manufacturing." Satisfaction of this need can take many forms and many paths, but it requires five elements: 1. Competent people 2. Elimination of waste 3. Functional integration 4. Implementation of advanced methods 5. A manufacturing strategy The need for competent people may appear obvious, but neither manufacturers nor educators have done a good job of giving high
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MESHING EDUCATION AND INDUSTRIAL NEEDS 51 priority to attracting the best to the manufacturing discipline, or rewarding and retaining the outstanding people who are there. From a manufacturing management standpoint, the key way to obtain and retain good people is to provide clear, attractive career opportunities and interesting and personally rewarding tasks at every stage of career development. Excellence in any field of endeavor will be achieved by people who thoroughly enjoy and thrive on their work. In industry, "career opportunities" are often interpreted as the opportunity to move out of manufacturing to administration and management, but this is a narrow view. Equally important are the opportunities for working within manufacturing to make strong con- tributions, to learn new skills and grow in maturity and judgment, and to be rewarded for this expertise. Employers must move to recognize and encourage the good work of those in the manufacturing function by applying the same key rewards that are so useful in other divisions of the company. Both short- and long-term effects are needed to increase the number of competent people in manufacturing. On a short-term basis, outstand- ing qualified individuals must shift from product engineering or research and development (R&D) to manufacturing. On a longer term basis, a steady influx of properly trained graduates with new ideas and tech- nologies should enter manufacturing and regard it as a challenging and rewarding career. A comparison of the traditional and progressive characteristics of the work force is summarized in Table 1. Future manufacturing environments will depend on utilizing the entire work force to operate successfully, and manufacturing managers of the future must be able to tap this resource fully. TABLE 1 A Comparison of Traditional and Progressive Characteristics of Work Force Management Traditional Characteristics Progressive Characteristics Control Management of effort Coordination of information First-order control Process stability Worker-independent Learning Management of alternatives Problem-solving information Second- and third-order control (Systems procedures vs. standards and norms) Process involvement Worker-dependent SOURCE: From an address by Professor Steven C. Wheelwright, Stanford University Graduate School of Business, to a TRW Inc. manufacturing conference, Chicago, 1984.
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52 STEIGERWALD I CANNON The selection of competent hourly workers as well as managers must receive the necessary time and effort to support these future needs. Many current manufacturing operations select prospective workers after two to three interviews with fellow workers, supervisors, and the plant manager. At the TRW plant in Douglas, Georgia, for example, a preselection/training process spends up to 80 hours on training and performing job tasks in a separate facility. A potential worker is evaluated in this work atmosphere prior to final job selection. This effort is worth it, considering that a new production employee earning $15,000 per year plus 30 percent in fringe benefits will cost the company more than $400,000 over 20 years. The time spent on selection of a $400,000 piece of equipment can serve as a comparison. People selection has been underemphasized compared to the effort expended on equipment selection. The second requirement for achieving excellence in manufacturing is to eliminate waste: reduce scrap, control inventory closely, use human and capital resources effectively, and pay attention to the many small factors that contribute to an efficient operation. The best operations emphasize these principles and apply high-quality systems, "just-in-time" scheduling, manufacturing resource planning, personnel flexibility, and "flat" management structures. Manufacturing managers and technologists must learn how to make use of these emerging techniques and to develop them further. But how can this best be accomplished? The third requirement for achieving manufacturing excellence is to integrate functions within manufacturing organizations. In each oper- ation at TRW, a strong partnership is built of equals R&D, design, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and all the supporting functions working as a closely knit team to execute the unit plan. Although each of these functions has different core responsibilities, there should be no isolation. It is not sufficient to get together just for the checkpoints- the design reviews and production release meetings. All functions must be continuous partners with a deep mutual interest in each other's success. Dramatic changes can emerge, for example, from a strong, continuing partnership between design and manufacturing engineers such as a change in a minor feature of the design, selection of an alternate process, or a better specification of tolerances. Suddenly the product is better, more readily manufactured, and far more reliable. Implementation of advanced methods is another of the five discrete actions necessary to achieve excellence in manufacturing. Many manufacturing personnel are so overwhelmed by short-term production
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MESHING EDUCATION AND INDUSTRIAL NEEDS 53 pressures that they become isolated and lose sight of developments in the field. Perhaps the most urgently required initiative to improve manufacturing is the identification of obsolete facilities, equipment, and processing technologies, followed by the appropriate corrective action. Encouraging excellence, professionalism, and investment in both equipment and people must be kept constantly at the forefront to improve competitiveness. Developing and applying a proper manufacturing strategy is the final item on the list of requirements to achieve excellence. Manufacturing units must have a clear vision and sense of purpose. Manufacturing managers need to think about and to participate more fully in developing production strategies that are totally consistent with the firm's business plan. What is the competitive strategy? What is the understanding of the manufacturing tasks? How do quality, delivery, price, and focus fit into these plans? Is the manager's perception of purpose and priorities consistent with those of the worker and first-line supervisor? These questions should be clearly answered to achieve the goal of manufacturing excellence. FUTURE ACTION industry usually looks to the academic community as a resource that can contribute and develop: · Educated people, · Basic and applied research from which the products and manu- facturing processes of tomorrow will evolve, and · Expert, independent advice with specific knowledge not normally found in manufacturing operations. These three activities are often combined. For example, the areas of expertise sought in potential faculty members are often dictated by the basic or applied research being funded. Outstanding students are then attracted to the disciplines taught by these capable, interesting faculty. Industry must therefore provide funding for manufacturing- related research and development to generate the interested faculty base. The availability of faculty with the empathy and skills to motivate and to educate students to meet the requirements for a manufacturing career is limited. Thus attention must turn to developing faculty competence. Many remedies, ranging from increased funding for equipment to sabbatical leaves into industry to part-time teachers from industry, have been attempted. These are acceptable solutions provided
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54 STEIGERWALD I CANNON that they form part of an integrated solution that creates a strong manufacturing program rather than piecemeal or stop-gap measures. Since many of the changes occurring also involve the challenges facing major industrial organizations, the same condition applies to business faculty and business students. Manufacturing will compete with many other disciplines for the attention of good technical students. In attracting competent people, industry must develop visible, well-paid, exciting career paths so that manufacturing is not a poor second cousin to corporate research and development, design, and marketing. Exposure early in a student's career, as an intern or a participant in a summer program, may effectively attract good people because manufacturing is exciting and often "gets into the blood." A properly designed assignment in the manufacturing function can get people "hooked" on the potential opportunities and contributions, leading them to decide to apply their talents there. The working environment on the factory Hoor is changing dramati- cally with the advent of the computer and with renewed emphasis on productivity and quality as crucial factors of competitiveness. Use of the computer as a tool is becoming more pervasive in product design, machine control, production scheduling, and inventory control. Greater investments are being made in automation, robotics, continuous ma- terial handling, and flexible manufacturing, and this will continue and expand across American industry. A basic issue involves the actions needed to create an awareness of these rapid changes in technology. How can one develop the ability to utilize and cope with them, while still making a specific contribution in the manufacturing environment? From an educational standpoint, a slight controversy exists between two overall options. Should the primary emphasis be on creating generalists with a broad knowledge of manufacturing or on developing a student with more detailed expertise in a particular manufacturing specialty? Although successful examples supporting either approach are available, knowledge of a specialty improves the acceptance of a beginner in the manufacturing function. The fact that a newcomer can contribute quickly in an area of expertise provides a useful base for developing confidence and integration into broader manufacturing needs. Industry often has difficulty placing "generalists" into the organization, the extreme case being the liberal arts graduate. Whatever the proper mix in creating generalists versus specialists, one must not lose sight of the need for good engineering studies. Superior execution of the manufacturing process requires careful attention to the fundamentals that undergird new technologies and
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MESHING EDUCATION AND INDUSTRIAL NEEDS 55 organizational concepts. Building advanced manufacturing technology systems on top of poor engineering can never achieve the required results. The proper curriculum for useful preparation in manufacturing is a key discussion item of this symposium. Recently, IBM launched a program to fund graduate curriculum development in manufacturing systems engineering. The many schools responding to the initiative defined core knowledge as elements of the proposed curriculum. These elements are: · Manufacturing systems, · Product and process design for manufacturing, · New manufacturing and engineering technologies, · Manufacturing processes and materials, · Control of manufacturing processes, · Production planning and control, · Management of industrial systems, · Modeling and simulation, and · Business and economics. In principle, these nine areas encompass the basic content of a manufacturing education. Execution of the program using the proper faculty, adequate facilities, participative teaching methods, workshops, exposure to real manufacturing problems, and the proper response by industry in defining career opportunities is absolutely essential to obtain sustainable results. For the United States to retake its position as a world leader in manufacturing technology, industry and academia must jointly move the best people into manufacturing; provide adequate faculty, facilities, and curricula to educate them; and keep them. This is the challenge for the remainder of the 1980s. A Response From Academia ROBERT H. CANNON, JR. What is the best way to get universities and industry on the same team to make headway on the national productivity problem? Mr. Robert H. Cannon, Jr., is chairman, Stanford Institute for Manufacturing and Automation, Stanford University, Stanford, California.
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56 STEIGERWALD I CANNON Steigerwald aptly stated the problem: U.S. industries are suffering a declining ability to compete in the world marketplace as a result of falling productivity. This has happened, he added, because insufficient resources have been focused on the manufacturing function. He then developed the theme that the most important resource is the human one: top students have simply lost interest in manufacturing. He is right. BUILDING EXCITEMENT Addressing this point from the educator's perspective requires the first of five precepts presented here: Precept 1: Students, faculty, and professionals will be attracted to university research and to careers where there is the excitement of newness and of doing something for the first time, where they can have mainstream leverage, and where there are resources to support them. To excite students about manufacturing, one must first excite the faculty about the prospects in manufacturing. Top engineers will move into factories if this appears an exciting thing to do. Top professionals are the way they were when they were students: they want to move; they want to do new things. Historically, one national focus after another has rallied resources and bright, motivated technical people to its cause in large numbers. These national crusades have included national defense (World War II and the "missile gap"), the journey to the moon, environmental protection, the energy crisis, and the productivity gap, and possibly include the computer gap, and the bioengineering gap. Top students are not motivated to go into manufacturing careers by hearing, "Everybody who is going to be a manufacturing engineer, line up and take the following courses." A more effective method is to say, for instance, "Here are some exciting problems and some ways that new applications of basic physics can contribute to solving them." For example, top-notch students are attracted to the Stanford laboratory in large numbers to work on robots unlike any seen before. These robots are flimsy, with very flexible manipulator elements not the big, clumsy devices seen in factories today. Clearly, the next generation of robots will be light, graceful, precise, and intelligent and will know what they are doing and how to do it deftly. These characteristics will require not only applying but also advancing the basic theory of automatic control. Theoreticians send students to the
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MESHING EDUCATION AND INDUSTRIAL NEEDS 57 Stanford laboratory to find out what theories they should investigate to support the new applications. This challenge excites and attracts good students and academic researchers because it generates basic advances in a fundamental disciplinary area, which, of course, allow the advancement of applications as well. Mr. Steigerwald also made a strong point about enterprise integration: The engineering perspective has broken down manufacturing operations into small segments, which has tended to maximize the performance of each segment, often at the expense of optimum integration.... Dramatic changes can emerge, for example, from a strong, continuing partnership between design and manufacturing engineers.... Suddenly the product is better, more readily manufactured, and far more reliable. One must look at the whole enterprise and design, balance, tune, and operate it as a system. Reconfiguring the engine of production to take advantage of new and fast-changing technology is a research oppor- tunity that generates excitement in a university atmosphere. It is also the kind of bait that will attract some top engineers, given that there are the resources to support them. ATTRACTING STUDENTS The remaining question is how best to use that bait to develop effective partnerships between universities and industry with the clear goal of getting good people and good new technical ideas into manu- facturing. This requires three steps: 1. Attracting students to manufacturing-related courses of study and research and keeping them interested 2. Attracting graduates to the manufacturing arena 3. Attracting professionals to move to manufacturing as part of their career progression Mr. Steigerwald addressed steps 2 and 3 in saying, "The key way to obtain and retain good people is to provide clear, attractive career opportunities . . . for working within manufacturing to make strong contributions, to learn new skills and grow in maturity and judgment, and to be rewarded for this expertise." He added that excellence is achieved by people who thoroughly enjoy and thrive on their work, and concluded that the number of competent people in manufacturing must be increased. The shift, however, must go in both directions. A bright individual with substantial manufacturing experience can raise a lot of interest
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58 STEIGERWALD I CANNON and influence the direction of product R&D in very cogent ways. The way to move ideas is to move the people who have them. Could this kind of movement for stronger motivation be a prerequisite to promotion in some areas? Experience in design and manufacturing should be one central requirement for future leadership at higher levels. In addressing step 1 attracting students into manufacturing-related studies-one must note Mr. Steigerwald's perceptive observation that outstanding students are attracted to the disciplines taught by faculty undertaking exciting research. Thus industry must provide funding for active manufacturing-related research and development-to generate the interested faculty base. Professors are successful because they have good students, not the other way around. How does one generate the interested faculty base? In this regard, Mr. Steigerwald suggested some mechanisms, which are examined rather specifically from the university viewpoint in the following section. BUILDING THE INDUSTRY-UNIVERSITY PARTNERSHIP This section introduces two motivational issues related to research. The first will probably not appear immediately relevant to manufac- turing, whereas the second will seem obvious. Precept 2: Universities people and teams-do what they are good at: advancing knowledge and teaching basic disciplines. At first glance, this statement may make the game look hopeless. Nevertheless, engineers, even those in universities, like to work in a real world context, and this can ensure the movement of some university resources to manufacturing. This is, of course, related to Precept 1. Some basic research areas relevant to manufacturing are: Computer science, Computer-aided mechanical design, Computer-aided very large systems integration (VLSI), Automatic control, · Robotics, · Behavior of materials, · Expert systems, · Chemical processes, and · Operations research. These currently exciting basic research areas relate to the five "man- ufacturing excellence" issues listed by Mr. Steigerwald. In academia, there are several dozen basic discipline areas that concern manufac
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MESHING EDUCATION AND INDUSTRIAL NEEDS 59 luring. Thus this subject can be researched and taught without, for example, deciding to set up a new school of manufacturing. The next issue is obvious: Precept 3: Basic research and therefore student and faculty interest and much of the teaching context-will focus on applications where there is fiscal support. Money is a great facilitator, especially money to support students. Engineering schools are seeing larger numbers of excellent-quality applicants than ever before, but the competition among schools for these students is fierce. Students can therefore choose where they will go, and they will obtain fellowships. They will subsequently apprentice themselves to professors who have research support. If some of the fellowships and the research support are in manufacturing-related areas, these students will point their careers in that direction. GEIlING THE BEST RESULTS What then are the mechanical details of industry-university inter- actions? The effective mechanisms were mentioned by Mr. Steigerwald: sponsorship agreements, summer jobs, internships, and, one could add, reverse internships-making it enjoyable and possible for industry personnel to spend substantial time on campus. Precept 4 concerns interactions between industrial sponsors and university principal investigators (not university administrators). The initial connections are, of course, facilitated by the university admin- istrative structure, and a number of universities now have manufac- turing institutes just for this purpose. The following precept addresses the companies directly: Precept 4: The second most important thing companies obtain when sponsoring a university researcher is his or her insight into what new research might contribute to new opportunities for the company. As bright students and faculty members become familiar with real manufacturing problems and opportunities, they will identify ways in which their research and teaching can contribute to the solution-new ways often not considered by those in the industrial community. The IBM grants program to encourage graduate-level engineering programs in manufacturing systems (see Brummett, in this volume) has very much operated from this precept, and it has expressed the tone and effectiveness desired by both sides.
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60 STEIGERWALD I CANNON Precept 5 concerns curricula: Precept 5: Truly strong academic programs strong curricula derive from strong research programs; not the other way around. Related to this precept is the idea of developing a Ph.D.-level research program that creates a new component for the M.S.-level management teaching program. For example, a Ph.D.-level research student could simulate a manufacturing enterprise on a computer. This kind of effort requires an individual who has been in manufacturing for a good while, who has hands-on experience, and who has come back to the university for an advanced degree that is, someone who is quite knowledgeable about the cause and effect and the dynamics of what goes on in a factory. He or she might ask, for example, what effects will occur on the time constants of other things throughout the system if the inventory period is shortened? The computer simulation would probably be simpler than real life in terms of number of products, number of machines, and so forth. It would contain, however, the cogent dynamic characteristics of the real enterprise, enabling one to learn something about what is important to the performance of the enterprise. This approach is similar to that used by engineers in simulating an aircraft to find its sensitivities. For example, a change in one aerodynamic coefficient makes no difference, but if another is changed, the aircraft becomes unstable. The second coefficient must be controlled carefully. The factory computer simu- lation research project could make the same kind of sensitivity analysis of manufacturing. The important educational link in the proposed idea is that the simulation is made part of the M.S.-level program curriculum. Each master' e-level student would operate the simulation to respond in real time, as a manager, to crises such as, "The widgets will not arrive on time, what should be done?" Or, "The paper broke on the printing press and you have a deadline to meet, what is the back-up position?" Students could then see how their actions reflect back through the system. This simulation appears to be a good training tool for aspiring managers of manufacturing enterprises, but the important point is: research serves as a beginning. In this same vein, and to respond to Mr. Steigerwald's view about specialists or generalists, one does not want to educate specialists or generalists. The goal of a curriculum is to train people who have a deep grounding in fundamentals. This grounding can be learned in any number of contexts, one of which might as well be manufacturing. Pursuing a curriculum of basic technology in the manufacturing context
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MESHING EDUCATION AND INDUSTRIAL NEEDS 61 will work, whereas pursuing a curriculum of procedures and details will not work. Finally, if an industry and a university wish to design a program in manufacturing productivity that will work to their mutual benefit, it must be custom-made. That is, it should build on the university's basic disciplinary and interdisciplinary strengths in computer science, ma- terials formability, mechanical design, chemical processing, automatic control, expert systems, and so on. Such a program should be exciting to faculty and students alike. This requires that it contain a heavy component supporting basic research which will generate new direc- tions for technology, and that it develop many mechanisms enabling faculty and students to become deeply acquainted with what is important to their industrial partner. These are the goals around which the mechanical details of structure, funding, interaction, and fair participation should be built.
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