In 1985 I read the book Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut. While it was not one of Vonnegut’s most popular or critically acclaimed books one facet of it is noteworthy. The book features a handheld electronic device called Mandarax that understands 1,000 languages and contains all of the knowledge of the human race. In the book this device is in the possession of a handful of survivors from a cataclysmic event that wipes out the rest of world’s population. These survivors are trapped on a remote island with few resources and quickly find this device to be less useful than one would imagine and they eventually throw it in the ocean.

Fast forward 30 years and unlike the hovercraft from Back to the Future that device pretty much exists, and is called the smartphone. And very few of them are being thrown in the ocean. The expansion of the Internet and broadband is literally changing the world at an accelerating pace. Manufacturing and commerce is increasingly interconnected.

With these technical and communicative advances, the rate of innovation is accelerating exponentially. This is both exciting and scary. Exciting, because the impossible is increasingly probable, which opens the door to new products and markets, and better ways to meet existing customers needs using few resources. Scary because the race is on, and the development cycle is truncated.

The WMEP can help make it so these advances are more exciting than scary. Through our partners at RTI and the national Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) network, we have proven solutions such as Tech Scouting that make it easy to find and adopt technologies that move your operations forward.

We can also help with services such as Lean Product Development that can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your development program and significantly reduce the time from idea to market. Our Profitable Sustainability offering can help identify your highest potential opportunities to enhance your operations and cut costs and time out of your production cycle.

All in all this is an exciting time to be a manufacturer, and the future is full of possibilities waiting to be realized.