Training is a Cornerstone in GE's Quality Equation

Manufacturers may focus on software and hardware, but when you push for better than 99% reliability, improved human input must be encouraged too. This was just one of the messages during a Dec. 1-2 forum on "Empowered Productivity" staged by General Electric and Microsoft to stimulate thinking and take a global look at what encourages productivity.

01/01/1998


Manufacturers may focus on software and hardware, but when you push for better than 99% reliability, improved human input must be encouraged too. This was just one of the messages during a Dec. 1-2 forum on "Empowered Productivity" staged by General Electric and Microsoft to stimulate thinking and take a global look at what encourages productivity.

Held on the campus of the GE Management Institute (Ossining, N.Y.)—and coordinated by GE Fanuc Automation (Charlottesville, Va.)—the forum gathered more than 100 automation industry leaders from around the world to learn about management strategies and technical innovations from GE and Microsoft (Redmond, Wa.), as well as "Automation Explorer" customers.

"When we think of productivity, all too often we think of a manufacturing process, but that's only part of the productivity equation," says Bob Collins, GE Fanuc's president and ceo. "You must find a balance among management practices and human resources, information systems and data availability, and the most advanced technology to achieve maximum productivity.

"The difference between average companies and top companies is empowerment. Besides hardware and software, the 'human-ware' side is needed to make productivity work," adds Mr. Collins.

Main concepts presented during the forum included:

  • Vision powered management—a tool presented by Mr. Collins for giving staffers the desire and ability to unleash personal creativity.

  • Change acceleration pro-cess—a model for coping with rapidly changing organizations' dynamics by creating shared needs, shaping a common vision, mobilizing commitment, reinforcing desired changes, and monitoring progress. This continuous process is based on combining both technical and cultural strategies to produce effective change.

  • Six sigma quality—a program for systematically finding and controlling process variables, redesigning processes, and training staffers to eliminate defects from products and transactions. GE is currently working to reach six sigma level of quality in which its business and manufacturing processes would be done correctly 99.99966% of the time. This translates to just 3.4 defects/million production opportunities (all steps within a manufacturing process). The average for U.S. companies is about three sigma today.

  • Automation explorers—a program by groups of engineers who take the risks needed to develop cutting-edge control solutions that reduce costs, improve quality, and made their companies more competitive.

  • Technological innovations—a look at open systems that mesh seamlessly with Microsoft's software architectures, such as GE Fanuc's Cimplicity monitoring and control software.

Among ongoing technology innovations cited by Robert L. McDowell, Microsoft's vp of Enterprise Business Relationships, is voice recognition input coming to computers, potentially eliminating the keyboard. "Expect to see voice recognition in business applications within two years," he says.

For more information visit www.controleng. com/info .





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