Five Questions With: Daniel Dwight

Daniel Dwight, CEO and president of Pawtucket’s Cooley Group, is now on the Manufacturing Leadership Council’s board of governors. It’s a network of industry leaders that gather to share experiences in order to improve not only member businesses but manufacturing overall.

PBN: It appears as if you are the only Rhode Island representative on the council. Why is it important that Rhode Island be part of the group?

DWIGHT: I represent the views of middle-market manufacturers in setting MLC’s strategy and vision. Cooley is conscientious of how our vision can better the state of Rhode Island, where we have our headquarters and two production facilities; however, we are one of several Rhode Island manufacturers that are active members of the council. Considering how instrumental MLC has been to Cooley’s growth, I’m always encouraging more Rhode Island businesses to join.

 

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PBN: What do you hope to help accomplish in this role?

DWIGHT: As both a council and board member, I seek to share insights with other businesses about Cooley Group’s transformation under Manufacturing 4.0 – the industry term that encompasses the technology, organizational and leadership transition underway. Cooley executives have spoken at the MLC Annual Summit, hosted webinars and written articles for the MLC’s bimonthly Manufacturing Leadership Journal.

Cooley also tours other council members’ manufacturing facilities and attends other MLC events to learn from fellow executives and their respective companies’ development and implementation of M4.0. It’s a genuine sharing of best practices.

PBN: Are there industry issues unique to Rhode Island or New England compared to manufacturing in other areas of the nation or globe? 

DWIGHT: The manufacturing industry is at a pivotal point in its history. On the one hand, we are driven by an intense competitive pressure to become more agile, innovative and cost effective, but on the other, we are newly enabled by advanced digital and analytical technologies that help us to rapidly develop our end products into more-effective and intelligent solutions.

Manufacturing companies of all sizes – from small Rhode Island manufacturers to global corporations – are now pursuing a future vision for their businesses that will transform the rules of competition, how work is effectively performed, how companies are organized, and how leaders take responsibility for their workforce. I imagine when you check in on the industry in about five years’ time, you’ll be seeing a very different manufacturing landscape.

PBN: What are some of the council’s agenda items?

DWIGHT: The recently agreed-upon 2020 agenda includes: building factories of the future; establishing M4.0 cultures: collaborative, innovative, integrated and connected; implementing transformative technologies in manufacturing; developing next-generation manufacturing leadership and a changing workforce; and integrating Manufacturing 4.0 sustainability.

I’d encourage readers to learn more about the council’s agenda (and become a member!) at www.manufacturingleadershipcouncil.com.

PBN: How do you feel your council participation will benefit you in your current role?

DWIGHT: Cooley shares with other council members a lofty vision for Manufacturing 4.0 in which production and supply networks are increasingly data-driven, predictive, sustainable, secure and rapidly reconfigurable to meet changing market demands and competition. Products can be smart, customized, autonomous and intelligent. Each of these advances has a massive potential to change our revenue streams. Supply chains are responsive, risk-resilient, traceable, socially responsible and constantly analyzed in real time to support faster and more-accurate decisions.

Like our council peers, Cooley is striving to become more cross-functional, collaborative, inclusive and highly integrated. Our efforts are supported by the digitization of our entire workflow from design, to deployment, to the reclamation of used product into recycled raw material. Leaders and employees at all levels are now digitally savvy, customer-centric and perpetually innovative, engaged and ready to adapt to new challenges. When I collaborate with my fellow council members and when Cooley collaborates with MLC member manufacturers, we grow further faster, progressing toward an advanced digital future for the benefit of our customers and shareholders.

Susan Shalhoub is a PBN contributing writer.

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