Great Lakes Manufacturing Council

Innovation is the New Currency of Supply Chains

Products are undergoing change at an ever-faster pace, and suppliers need to be part of the development process.  They also need to look to opportunities beyond their sectors; there is an opportunity for innovation with every component or assembly.  It takes vision, courage, and a devotion to science, and these are lubricated by financing and technology.

Patient money is important, is growing, but needs to grow more.  Visualization and simulation technologies and software are more widely available to support continuous rapid prototyping, and there are matrices to help with the development of composites and alternative materials.  Breakthroughs can result in huge reductions in cycle time.

The panel showed several product innovations, including a flexible wing for Gulfstrream jets and a minivan wiper reduced from 14 to 4 parts, by 50% in weight and 30% in cost.

There are several key ingredients for the supply chains of the future:

  • Strong science, technology and math curricula
  • Longer-term oriented second stage investment capital
  • Greater university focus on commercialization
  • Government investment in advanced manufacturing technologies
  • A healthy regard for profits throughout the manufacturing supply chain

54 Supply Chain Panelists:










The Council's Supply Chain Panel Discussion featured the following panelists listed as they appear from left to right:
Sandy Munro, Design Prophet & CEO, Munro Associates
Matt Roush, Director of Communications and Public Relations, The Engineering Society of Detroit
Fary Lownsdale, Chief Technology Officer, Plasan Carbon composites
Sridhar Kota, Herrick Professor of Engineering, University of Michigan