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Next Generation Manufacturing: Are You Ready for the Future?

About the Author

Buckley Brinkman

Executive Director
Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership

  • 25+ years of transformational manufacturing leadership, helping companies drive growth, world-class competitiveness and performance excellence
  • Executive leadership for companies ranging from $5 million to $4 billion+ in sales
  • Credited with reviving the North American operations of the world's largest playing card company, leading the turnaround of a prominent trade bindery and catalyzing the profit turnaround of a recycled paperboard mill
  • Formerly President and COO of Illinois-based U.S. Music Corporation; COO of Minneapolis-based Manchester Companies and President of Minneapolis-based Vallon, LLC
  • Founder and Moderator, Forge Alliance
  • MBA, Harvard Business School; Bachelor's, University of Wisconsin

Next Generation Manufacturing:
Are You Ready for the Future?

by Buckley Brinkman
Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership

It's a critical time for manufacturing in this country. Manufacturing plays a major part in value creation and drives a substantial part of the economy. Here in Wisconsin, our manufacturers impact nearly half of our economic activity, and manufacturing led the recovery from the Great Recession. We can solidify the gains made over the past few years and continue the momentum.

Manufacturing is more demanding than ever. It used to be that creating a better mousetrap or developing a unique approach to the market guaranteed success. Incremental improvements were enough to hold an advantage and solidify the future for any leading company. Any advantage or improvement was enough to make success a reality. Now, manufacturers must master all six Next Generation Manufacturing (NGM) elements in order to survive in the future.

Success across the NGM6 requires constant benchmarking and improvement. Ubiquitous, worldwide competition makes it critical for manufacturing organizations to constantly seek honest, relevant data to determine market position. The best manufacturers understand where the highest standards are and constantly push those standards higher and higher.

Are you at risk?

If your company is making only marginal improvements, this could be you. The companies in the top 15% have improved key metrics by more than 40% over the past five years. Have you? Are you satisfied with minimal growth and/or shrinking margins? Do you rely on your own expertise and have competence in only one or two elements of the NGM6? If these observations apply to you, you're falling behind the market. Get engaged! We can't afford to leave anyone behind.

Our future depends on manufacturers' mastering the NGM6. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) system can help. Contact a manufacturing consulting firm, such as WMEP, to ensure your company is positioned for success!

The Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) enhances the success of Wisconsin's small to midsize manufacturers by providing expert and accessible services in the areas of growth and innovation, continuous improvement, training, export assistance, supply chain management and profitable sustainability. WMEP is a strong advocate for manufacturers in Wisconsin and supports Wisconsin manufacturing at a national level. For more information, visit or call Steve Harrell at 608-354-4472.

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