Advanced Manufacturing

by

Industrial Revolution IT Integration Smart Manufacturing Innovat

FountainBlue’s October 5 VIP roundtable, on the topic of ‘Advanced Manufacturing Trends and Predictions’. Thank you also to our gracious hosts at Texas Instruments. Below are notes from the conversation.

We’ve heard the mantra for exceptional manufacturing decades: Faster, Better, Cheaper, but now it’s a bit different. The difference today is that it can’t just be ‘better’. For example, the quality must be exceptional enough, with LOW DFM (defects per million) to be safe for medical and automotive needs for example. And the results must be easily integrated into a host of other solutions, thereby raising the bar further.

Below is a synopsis of advice for companies leading advanced manufacturing initiatives for their organizations:

  • Change is necessary and will happen quickly, moving in the direction of digital. Sometimes that change will be dramatic, moving from paper processing to digitalization and automation. Sometimes the change has already taken place, but there’s a problem integrating with other solutions. But change is inevitable and needs to happen quickly for companies to maintain that edge.
  • The pressure to deliver faster, more integrated and better quality solutions is raising the bar for all stakeholders across the ecosystem. Companies and leaders who take that collaborative ecosystem view will set themselves apart and have that leadership edge, especially when change is happening so quickly.
  • The type of materials used in manufacturing will become important. For example, titanium and nickel and plastics might be more suitable for medical, aerospace and automotive manufacturing solutions, and might work well with 3D printing capabilities.
  • With the volume of data generated, we will need some standards for how data is accessed, managed and exchanged which would respect the privacy, access and security of all parties while also providing relevant actionable reports which would to help improve the product/service and also to better understand customer needs.

Below are some thoughts on some hot opportunities in advanced manufacturing:

  • 3D printing for prototyping
  • Manufacturing as a service
  • Leveraging software to enable redundancy and parallel processing  
  • Robotics and other automations
  • AI and ML, leveraging huge volumes of data real-time
  • Leveraging radio protocols rather than wifi
  • Sensors on the manufacturing floor and across the supply chain
  • Reports on power usage of individual units and components on the manufacturing floor
  • Fingerprinting and other ID methods to better understand where parts have been
  • Convergence of chemistry and materials to solve real-world problems

There was frequent mention of and many questions about the people and management challenges to get teams and companies innovating with advanced manufacturing solutions.

  • Will we be able to attract, recruit and trained employees to ensure that machines, processes and tools run well? Can we recruit that diverse workforce as well?
  • Will there be architects and designers who can define and automate processes so employees can efficiently maintain them?
  • Will people be able to work with systems in order to sift the signal from the noise, given the mind-boggling volume of data generated real-time?
  • Can we be intelligent and efficient enough to design and upgrade today’s systems for anticipated needs?
  • Will we have a diverse and trained enough talent pool that can integrate our own solutions into that of other suppliers, integrators, providers in the ecosystem, in order to meet the demands of the customer?

The challenge to all executives leading advanced manufacturing is clear: how do you think and act strategically and execute seamlessly in order to oversee and manage the product, people, and service side of the business, and serve the sophisticated advanced manufacturing needs of very demanding customers?

Resources:

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