I really think this is an idea whose time has come. Software is an excellent and proper technology to drive the "manufacturing revolution". Integration of viable and "workable" software will allow CAD, design engineering, lab testing, production of jigs and fixtures and eventual production to occur at a much faster pace with acceptable results. It also is one very good solution for document management and allowing a "paper trail" that can provide history for program management. The days of "engineering teams" throwing it over the wall must be gone forever. It's remarkably archaic but still done in some areas. Great post Charles.
Yes, Liz, this trend ends up touching industries in many different ways. One of the macroeconomic forces that I didn't mention was something called "servitization." In servitization, manufacturers do more than focus on maintaining and repairing their products. They sell the service that their products provide. For example, Rolls Royce no longer just sells airplane engines to its customers; it sells the hours that each engine is in service. None of this can happen, though, if the product you manufacture doesn't have the necessary electronic hardware and software. This calls on manufacturers to think in completely new ways.
Interesting report indeed, chuck. Software should definitely help bridge this gap and I think is already starting to with some tools that are coming out to help integrate features of both design and production. It can only get better are more manufacturers embrace software, which as we have seen historically has gone a long way to streamline other industries and businesses as well.
Charles, application of software and automation can make many of the things simpler and fruitful. T he investments required for revamping the existing manual system or modification in production like is the issue. But there is no doubt that within a couple of years we can have the break even (ROI)
I was amazed to hear how many companies are already chaging their manufacturing philosophies, naperlou. Oxford's study surveyed 300 of the world's biggest and most important manufacturers, and showed that 68% plan to undergo radical manufacturing transformations. So, yes, you're absolutely right. The transformation is already in full swing.
Well said, Lou. That's part of the fun of being a technical trade journalist: it's great when we can sniff out a major trend shift just as the wave is breaking, or even right before, and tell readers about it. And kudos to Chuck.
Chuck, as with all such revolutions, once you hear about it it is underway. Again, it is software that is driving the train. We have become masters of manipulating matter, and we are developing new techniques all the time (3D printing). Being flexible about it is a whole different problem. What we are talking about here is mass customization. In marketing they talk about three levels of product. Mass produced, mass customization and pure custom. Mass customization consists of modifications of a product for a particular customer.
The auto industry has done this for a long time, but it was more popular outside of the US. In Germany they will wait months for a new car with just the right combination of options. In the US we tend to buy off the lot. I think this trend will change, as it already has with the example you use of farm tractors.
Achieving a more complete connection between design and production, along with use of simulation to speed up and improve the process, is a strong trend that many think will revolutionize manufacturing. At the most recent Hannover Fair, one of the keynote speakers basically repeated the basics of the message here. Interesting report.
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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