How to evaluate intangibles?

Lean Manufacturing, Value, and the Wave Function Of Future Business  March 5, 2010 – 04:13 pm

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When it comes to the benefits of motion control, most of us can recite them in our sleep: faster changeover, easier maintenance, reduced downtime, smaller footprint, increased accuracy, cleaner operation. Motion control in the manufacturing environment: enables lean manufacturing that results in less capital tied up in inventory, less tied up in materials, less money spent for warehousing, etc. Integrating the industrial network with the corporate ERP system⎯the type of automation-to-ERP integration we discussed in Shopfloor, Meet Top Floor holds out the promise of allowing manufacturing to respond directly to customer orders. It’s a less common implementation and therefore more challenging to execute. So how do companies justify the capital outlay? I think we all understand intuitively that being able to respond to customer demand is good for business. That said, “I’m just sure it will pay off, ” isn’t exactly the kind of verbiage that makes a CFO’s heart sing.

The challenge is that it really comes down to quantifying potential and probability, which gives me the urge to start scribbling Schrödinger’s equation (what does the orbital of future business look like? ) How do we value a day or week of time on the market, for a company that gets bogged down in a production run for part A when their stock of part B runs out? A bigger question is what happens when being bogged down producing part A keeps a vendor from satisfying customer demand. Now we’re getting into an even more nebulous area: the value of responsivity (and no, that’s not one of the constants in the wave equation). “Better late than never” doesn’t cut it if late causes your customer to miss the delivery date on a contract. Yes, we can probably quantify that, but what about delivering their order a few days earlier so that they, in turn, can get to market quicker (can we write a wave function for customer loyalty? )

Source: Motion Control in Automation

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