Saturday, April 13, 2024

Going beyond ‘groupthink’ to embrace disruption

The pandemic has crept into every facet of our lives and has had a devastating effect on the economy. It has also made us rethink our priorities within manufacturing and supply chain.

Jim Wallace

By Balluff National Sales Manager Jim Wallace. 

Currently, we hear lots of rhetoric from politicians and business leaders about bringing manufacturing back to Australia and enforcing local supply chains to nullify the effects of external catastrophic events such as Covid-19.

My question to you is: are we embracing disruption to drive change, or is this just a mere example of the ‘groupthink’ phenomenon?

What is ‘groupthink’?

“To recognise groupthink, it’s useful to identify the situations in which it’s most likely to occur. When groups feel threatened…they may develop a strong ‘us versus them’ mentality. This can prompt members to accept group perspectives, even when those perspectives don’t necessarily align with their personal views.” (Psychology Today).

If handled correctly, this could be our turning point

Think to the future. When we come through this pandemic and start to recover, will we still be of this united opinion as a nation or will supply chains start to revert to the lowest cost product?

I strongly believe that this is a real turning point for Australian manufacturing; however, we have a collective responsibility to ensure that the thought process is a rational long-term strategy rather than a groupthink short-term reaction.

As a country we need to adapt our manufacturing processes so that we can compete internationally, offering the highest value proposition and in turn grow the manufacturing economy within the country.

Gains in manufacturing efficiencies can be achieved from factors that include operational requirements, such as identifying reasons for (and reducing) lost production time, and building more flexible production lines and processes with the ability to adapt to different products with a minimum of set-up time. In addition, tracking and traceability is playing a strong role in ensuring that the correct manufacturing process has been followed and implemented and that the product is delivered in its original condition. In this age data is key — not only creating and harvesting the data but using this to make informed decisions both dynamically in real time and retrospectively for process improvements.

Collaboration is key

I believe that as suppliers we must work together to develop high-level relationships, to collaborate and educate Australian manufacturing to understand and embrace the challenge of new technologies.

With support from government and industry organisations we should help manufacturing overcome real and perceived barriers to investing in new techniques. An example of a collaborative approach for the ‘greater good’ is the Open IIoT consortium of companies incorporating Balluff, SMC, Beckhoff Automation, Zi-Argus and Nord Drivesystems, whose mission is to demystify Industry 4.0, IIoT and other related topics — and to break down the jargon to address topics of real business value, security, data ownership and IT integration.

Through a collaborative effort we can offer a wider base of knowledge and expertise to help manufacturers understand and identify key areas of concern and take realistic steps to implement new techniques to gain competitiveness.

With all of this in mind, it is our collective responsibility to embrace disruption!


About Jim Wallace

Jim joined Balluff in 1997 as a product manager in the UK and made the move to Balluff Australia 16 years later. Today, Jim is the sales manager for Balluff Australia and is based in Melbourne. As an Industry 4.0 and digitisation advocate, Jim also forms part of Open IIoT. 

About Balluff

INnovating automation – with high standards and personal commitment.

Balluff is a leading supplier of networked IO-Link control system architectures that unlock the potential of the IIoT and Industry 4.0. Balluff offers a wide range of intelligent IO-Link and industrial ethernet sensors in a variety of technologies including inductive, photoelectric, capacitive, and magnetic as well as magnetostrictive linear position sensors, tape linear encoders, industrial RFID systems, and industrial vision systems.

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