MFGX.com, the first open global community for manufacturers, which came out of beta three short months ago, is poised to take the manufacturing world by storm. It already has 12 active communities with over 80 discussions, 40 documents, and 30 blog posts — which is quite a lot considering how traditionally silent the manufacturing and procurement communities are with respect to the on-line world.
MFGX.com, which was originally conceived as a companion site to MFG.com, is important because it’s the first offering in the space that’s open to all manufacturers, regardless of the marketplaces they belong to or the products they offer. This allows producers, distributors, and retailers to find the best manufacturer to fill their needs and manufacturers to find the producers, distributors, and retailers that they can have the best relationships with – creating a win-win for everyone.
Furthermore, it’s simple — composed primarily of plain old forums (discussions), wikis (documents), and blogs, it eschews all of the new social networking nonsense that plagues many other sites. Considering that most social networking sites are, at least in the doctor‘s view, a big waste of time, I believe that this is a good thing. The internet is one of the best tools for knowledge sharing that we have, and the best sites are those that promote the sharing of knowledge, not your latest anti-ephiphany. (After all, does it really matter that you think Britney should be boycotting her current fashion line because of sweat-shop utilization? And do you really want the world to know you read BritneyZone daily? [Hat Tip: Google Search] So next time you use Twitter, remember the definition of the word.)
However, the real beauty of the concept, is the fact that it serves as the foundation for Open Source Manufacturing, which, as Jason Busch also points out over on Spend Matters, is quite cool and forward looking. After all, some of the best innovations in IT have come from open source, and some of the best successes in R&D have come from open innovation networks like NineSigma, InnoCentive, and YourEncore, and crowd-sourcing has been used to successfully streamline process. Just think what open source could do for manufacturing. It could improve processes and products. Even more importantly, it could open manufacturing design up so that, if you’re an engineer, inventor, or just a tinkerer, you could build your own products and not have to worry about a manufacturer going out of business if there’s a product you really want to keep using. For example, imagine an open source car that anyone could build parts for and that anyone could maintain. You wouldn’t have to worry about manufacturer bankruptcies, or, better yet, unnecessarily high prices or poor quality. And this could be just the beginning.