Keeping Pace With the Change

The late 20th and 21st centuries witnessed a dramatic increase in high end technology used in manufacturing and this gave rise to the term advanced manufacturing. As for the perfect definition of the term there are several conflicting views on it. However, one thing is common in all the definitions – the integration of the latest and cutting edge technology in both products and processes.

Recently the White House released a statement regarding its definition which states “A concise definition of advanced manufacturing offered by some is manufacturing that entails rapid transfer of science and technology (S&T) into manufacturing products and processes.” It can be seen from this definition that any manufacturing process involving the utilization of innovative technology and science falls under this category. From cell phones to space research, the development of science and technology has affected everything and this has directly translated into the development of newer and better products available at reasonable prices. Several process technologies are used when it comes to this type of manufacturing, they include:

  • Use of computer technology like CAM, CAD and CAE
  • Use of high precision technology
  • Use of advanced robotics and AI based systems
  • Using high precision computing for simulation and analysis
  • Use of sustainable green technologies
  • Using latest control systems to monitor different processes
  • Automation
  • Scalability in manufacturing and
  • The ability to custom manufacture

Several organizations are of the view that management methodologies should also be included to better define this type of latest manufacturing process. This belief led to the addition of several management techniques such as lean production techniques, integration of enhanced supply chain to the manufacturing process, and technology assimilation and added a new dimension to this idea. Management philosophies and methodologies that were added include:

  • Quality controls
  • Lean production technologies
  • Integration of advanced Supply chain techniques and
  • Advanced Planning and Scheduling

Although a fixed definition of advanced manufacturing has yet to be established the fact is that governments of different countries are supporting this idea. In June, 2011 US President Barack Obama launched Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), a national drive to bring together manufacturing industries, research organizations and the federal government to invest in the development latest, new-age technology. A lot of investment and research is going on behind this new type of manufacturing leading to the development of new technologies and processes.