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Has the Factory of the Future Arrived?

By Dr. Robert L. Gordon | 01/06/2016 | 7:37 AM | Categories: Current Affairs

97430340According to Warren Bennis, “The factory of the future will only have two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog, and the dog will be there to keep the many from touching the equipment.”

Years ago, when Warren Bennis came out with this statement, it seemed that he was speaking about the far future, because it seemed to be so farfetched. With the technology today, this kind of factory is closer than we think.

Cloud DMM has built a factory in the UPS hub in Louisville, Ky., that will run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They plan to staff the factory with only three employees, one for each eight-hour shift. One might ask how this is possible. What is the catch?

Cloud DMM is a rapid-prototyping company that will use one hundred high-tech 3D printers. Customers transmit prototype specifications electronically and printed prototypes ship out via UPS. UPS then handles the logistics so that materials arrive overnight to any location.

Several other companies are offering 3D printing services to other companies. However, these other startups have not integrated their logistics as tightly as Cloud DMM.

There is no doubt that startups like this are signaling a new generation of organization that will limit human intervention to maximize efficiency. It is clear that we are a lot closer to Bennis’s vision than we thought.

Of course, we will all have to watch how Cloud DMM fares, as they still might need to hire a dog to keep their lone employee from tinkering with the technology.



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About Dr. Robert Lee Gordon

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon is program director of the Reverse Logistics department at American Public University. Dr. Gordon has over twenty-five years of professional experience in supply chain management and human resources. He holds a Doctorate of Management and Organizational Leadership and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, as well earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from UCLA. Dr. Gordon has spent more than 14 years teaching reverse logistics, transportation, project management, and human resources. He has published articles on reverse logistics; supply chain management; project management; human resources; education, and complexity. He has also published four books on Reverse Logistics Management; Complexity and Project Management; Virtual Project Management Organizations, and Successful Program Management..

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