Is open source the way back for U.S. manufacturing?

Is open source the way back for U.S. manufacturing?

Summary: What we're moving toward is a world where everyone works together on everything, with the leaders being those who implement best. That's a world where U.S. manufacturers can compete.

TOPICS: Open Source

The assumption that the U.S. leads because of Intellectual Property, and thus that the developing world mainly benefits from open source, may need some re-evaluating.

There are a growing number of areas where the U.S. is falling behind. Manufacturing, for one. And this week I took two interviews about how open source may help us come back.

OpenMFG has launched a Drupal site to accelerate work on its ERP Suite and report writer. "We’re trying to open up the issue tracking system, which a lot of people don’t do," said CEO Ned Lilly.

This is an important point because there are as many levels of open as there are folks to interpret the word. There's open as in free, open as in licensing, and open as in transparent. Each is a little more open than the other. Transparent development is about as open as it gets.

Then Kurt Sand, senior manager at Telelogic Solutions, reported in to tell me about that company's commitment to the Eclipse Process Framework.

Here the word commitment is meant literally -- the company has "commiters" working actively on code for Requirements-Driven Development, Model Driven Architecture, Enterprise Change Management, and Systems and Software Development.

Sand said the resulting tools will be "minimal, complete and extensible," a system that works not just for software development but all "enterprise processes."

What we're moving toward is a world where everyone works together on everything, with the leaders being those who implement best. That's a world where U.S. manufacturers can compete.

Topic: Open Source

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  • Relationship to manufacturing...??

    So how does this relate to manufacturing...??

    As for IT the solution is to accelerate the process. We seem to forget that there is fairly small number of countries that comapnies can outsource processes or other IT functions too. As countries like India and China grow so does the cost of labor and thus inflation. We are already beginning to see the companies moving from China to India and so forth.
  • benefits to outsource.

    It benefits the US to outsource more manufacturing to Mexico.
    No point in paying $60 for manufacturing job in the US (isnt that what it costs GM). If GM did more manufacturing in Mexico, they would have been more competitive and probably would have had larger market share in the US and abroad.
    • Open source, not outsource

      Aren't these comments getting off-topic?

      The article is about bringing the benefits of open source software development to manufacturing processes.
      • it depends on one's point of view

        Its not that big a deal if low certain manufacturing jobs are outsourced.

        Second, its not proven that open source software development will help manufacturing. Just writing an article doesnt make it a FACT. Infact if you look at history, proprietary software has done more in a lot more industries than open source.

        Open source however have open mouths who cant seem to keep them shut though. For even a minute contribution, they got to yell from the top of the world that they have achieved something.
  • Manufactuering's problems have nothing to do with IT...

    ... let alone whether or not open source software. To state that anything having to do with IT will "save" US manufacturing is technical bigotry (the idea that technology cures all) at best. The US manufacturing industry's problems have nothing to do with technology, they have to do with cost of current labor, the cost of retired labor (GM has something like 3 retireees that they support for every current employee, which adds thousands of dollars to the cost of every vehecle they make), and poor business level decisions. I know that this is ZDNet, where the answer to everything is IT IT IT. But guess what? The manufacturing sector has declined while the IT revolution has occured. If IT could "save" manufacturing, wouldn't it follow that the tech boom of the 80's, 90's, and 00's would have helped the manufacturing sector instead of allowing it to continue the free fall that started in the 70's?

    Justin James
    • Reply: Manufactuering's problems have nothing to do with IT...

      Having worked in the Manufacturing Industry your
      points are well taken in concern with Labor
      Costs, Retirement Package Costs, and down right
      poor decision making on the part of Management
      and Marketing. Never mind limited or no vision
      for the future!

      While I.T. and M.I.S. is not a panacea by any
      stretch of the imagination, there are ways I.T.
      and Open Source can help the Manufacturing
      Industry rethink it's state and rebuild.

      Since Labor will not be paid less for what they
      do, let them do it some place else and bring in
      Open Source Automation. Open Source as most
      people know costs nothing or only requires a
      donation of an unspecified amount. You decide
      what it will cost. Since there is little or no
      acquisition costs, Open Source is far more cost
      effective to implement than say Microsoft
      Windows. Just watch a milling machine or lathe
      crash tooling on a "Fatal Exception Error"!

      The Manufacturing Industry needs people who are
      decisive and will stick by their decisions and
      people. These people as a collective need to be
      visionaries of the future for what their
      respective corporation will look like 5 years
      from now and beyond.

      The Manufacturing Industry needs too, to set it's
      people up for success and stop the petty-ante
      finger pointing when things go wrong. Address
      negative issues as a team not a an accuser
      seeking to elevate themselves on the faults of

      So while I agree with some things you have said,
      I think that more is at issue than just the
      things you cite.
      The Rifleman
  • Manufacturing belongs to MS I'm afraid

    I'm an mechanical engineer working in industrial control systems. I hate to say it, but as group we're not much more proficient than clerical workers when it comes to computers. We've bit the Microsoft hook and swallowed it down to our stomachs. We're not going to spit this hook without a lot of pain. The control systems industry is built around MS proprietary protocols such as COM,DCOM,OLE,ActiveX, etc. Based on these technologies, the protocol used in the control systems industry is called OPC (OLE for Process control). Companies, such as the one I work for, have been told by vendors that OPC is an "open" protocol. You'd think engineers would be smart enough to see the deception. But, I'm ashamed to say, we not only bought into what the salesmen had to say, we requested it. Even worse, we converted our Unix based programs to run in this environment. There's no compatible substitute for COM in the Linux/Unix world. And making Linux talk COM is like forcing a square peg into a round hole. I doubt anyone in the open source world is ever gonna create software that emulates COM. There is what appears to be an attempt to create an analogous, but incompatible, protocol by the Object Management Group ( It's based on truly open protocols such as CORBA. But it's so far behind OPC that you can hardly find it. Because of OPC I'm sad to say that Linux faces an extreme barrier in the world of industrial controls. Practically all vendor products are based on OPC. Neither the control systems vendors or users have any interest in switching from OPC. Certainly not in the US. OPC is ingrained in everything. I think this is another area in which non-US companies will again pull ahead in technology. Non-US companies are not as enamored with MS as we are here in the US. It's a sad situation because the OPC technology is not even very powerful, like a lot of other MS stuff. Excuse, I'm think I'm going to cry.