Quality Conversations: AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology (2 of 2)

We’re back with Tim Shinbara Jr., VP of Technology for  AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology. Last month, ARMATURE became a member of AMT, and we jumped at the chance to interview Tim for our Quality Conversations series. In the second part of our series (read Part #1 here), Tim shares his perspective on the past, present, and future of manufacturing technology. Enjoy!

Hi again, Tim. What are some of the ways in which manufacturing technology has evolved in the past decade or so, and what are some of the big things on the horizon?

If you had to choose one word, it’s “digitization.” That’s two-fold for me. The first part is, we take an analog technology and migrate it to a digital nature, so that we can scale the information and quicken the transport, or we can exponentially increase storage. That’s what digitization does for folks. The second part is, we’ve seen new technologies come to market that are almost solely based in the digital world. Additive is a perfect example, because it’s one of the purest discrete technologies that never had a 2D element to it. It’s always been in the 3D world, computerized and digitized. For me, “digitization” is the first word that comes to mind to describe the evolution we’ve seen in the past decade, and “connectivity” is the second. Those two things led to gains in visibility, which is of tremendous value for a production factory owner. To see and visualize your data allows you as a human to better ascertain what’s going on, whether it’s troubleshooting or optimization. So that’s the last 10 years.

The next couple years, I think, take those as enablers to really move toward interfaces of things-to-things and of things-to-business-processes. The idea is, let’s not just stop at collecting and visualizing data; let’s utilize it. So looping that data back so it can be instant to manufacturing, pulling that data into your CFO’s office in real-time or near-real-time to increase visibility on costs, real-time pricing, impact-to-cost when you change your process, things like that.

A QMS like yours can easily tell you when you extend the bandwidth of a profitable part, or not-so-profitable part, or process. So looking forward, I see one enabling technology: AI. Whether you’re talking about training the data, or being able to discern things without having to know everything about every data point, there are huge benefits in the process world to know those things. AI can show me the trends, peaks, and troughs, and I can take from that and add a little bit of human ingenuity and the experience to know what the peak and trough actually mean to me. There are tremendous gains just in time alone in having AI help out in a lot of that. Going forward, I think we’re going to see a lot more gains in the manufacturing technology space in interfacing with other pieces of equipment and other business processes, and then I think we’re going to see AI become a tremendous enabling feature for people to make intelligent decisions based on all that high-volume data.

Absolutely—that combination of computer power and human ingenuity is full of potential. As you were considering ARMATURE for membership, what were some of the things that drew you to us, and what value do you see in having a QMS vendor as an AMT member?

You guys are representative of so many things that we see positively impacting our industry. First and foremost, the QMS is crucial. The more we go back to the enablers of the past decade—connectivity and digitization—the more we see the value in platforms like ARMATURE Fabric. You’re enabling folks to make better decisions quicker than we have in the past. Those things are absolutely key, and I think it increases the visibility on the process, and we are still very much in a process-driven and process-sensitive world. The closer to real-time, the higher fidelity on the process impact, all these things that allow me to know what I’m getting to an upper or lower limit, and to know it closer to real-time than not. Those are the types of products that I see, but you guys are doing that out-of-the-box.

Another thing that drew us to your quality management software is that the type of tool you’re providing increases collaboration—not just within a factory but amongst cost centers and suppliers. Your software makes it easy for suppliers to check in to see where things stand, just like when you buy something on Amazon today, you can see when it’s going to be delivered, or that it was delivered, or that it was dropped off…just that feature alone makes you a very attractive member for us. Because it shows us that the market understands the challenges coming down the pike, and how to remove the friction. You’re removing so much friction by approaching QMS in the way you’re doing it. It’s an absolute no-brainer. We’re happy to have you guys.

Thank you for that answer. Collaboration is very near and dear to our hearts, so it’s good that you picked up on it. One final question for you, Tim: Do you see more and more companies adopting manufacturing technologies over the next three years?

Yes, for two reasons. The first is that we’re seeing an increase in demand by having a favorable economic environment, and the second is that we’re seeing high backlog and people are now calling for things like MTConnect, interoperability, and open API in their requirements. The language is changing in the requirement document, and for me, especially coming from the aerospace and defense world, the requirements documents tell you what people want next, in future products. Those two things right there are highly encouraging to me. This is a great time to be in manufacturing in general, and a terrific time to start talking about manufacturing technology and solutions for the factory. It’s a good place to be right now.

Wonderful. That seems like a great way to end our discussion. Thanks so much for your time, Tim!

Thanks for having me, and welcome to AMT.

We hope you enjoyed this Quality Conversation with Tim Shinbara, Jr. To learn more about AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology, visit AMTOnline. To learn more about ARMATURE Fabric, an intuitive QMS platform that features next-gen audit management, workflow management, and standards management tools, contact us. We’d love to have a quality conversation with you.