More about Manufacturing
Discover our customer stories, videos and articles
Consumers demand personalized experiences with which they can feel an emotional connection. The market, crowded by makers, hackers, DIYers and individualists, is begging for more than just products. But much more is in play. Not only must the right experiences be delivered to the right person for the right price – the process of how products are designed and delivered must also change. New technologies are scaling up personalized manufacturing strategies to a completely new level.
When consumers are used to “now” and “the way I want it,” products are no longer enough.
Experiences are the name of the game. Every successful experience requires an efficient way to produce the underlying product. Models, supply chains and production process all must become faster, more integrated and much more agile. The question, naturally, is HOW to reach this goal?
Defining production processes
When a product has been designed and engineered fully in 3D, the manufacturing processes can also be modeled virtually. Digital continuity, also called the digital thread, leverages 3D design data all the way through to 3D manufacturing process models, including ergonomics, flow simulations, machining, process planning, manufacturing management, robotics, and more. Product and process models must integrate feedback from the shop floor, the supply chain, the distribution network, and even from consumers.
The shop floor, the influx of data, and big decisions
Orchestrating what happens on a day-to-day basis during production is Manufacturing Operations Management. It connects all the people and machines on the shop floor and assigns them tasks, ensuring the necessary parts or materials are in place. It communicates “material requirements” back up the supply chain. But the explosion of data being generated by smart, sensor-connected machines and processes is creating major challenges. With the shop floor highly interconnected via these new systems, manufacturers worldwide can measure and control their processes like never before. But the question is: how do to make sense of this rapid influx of data and exploit it? It is not about big data, it is about big decisions.
Solving bottlenecks across the entire value chain
AManufacturers are struggling to evolve the traditional definition of a supply chain to include not only suppliers’ production materials, but also the products once they’ve been made. Where do the products go? To a company warehouse? A ship bound for some far away market? Or into a customer’s hands? Information about post-production product location, status and usage must be integrated into an operations plan for optimization. Maintenance or servicing should also be part of the equation. Increasingly, the concept of a supply chain will extend all the way from raw materials to how a product is being used by a customer.
The economic gains are dramatic. The changes to design are even more significant.
Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, allows entirely new types of parts and products to be created. Designers will have blank drawing boards, so to speak, that allow them to ask, “In an ideal world, what should this part look like?” Designers are finding that organic shapes found in Nature are sometimes better and more streamlined than the clunky industrial-style shapes that have prevailed in the past. This type of “generative, functional design” fuels the Experience Economy and will revolutionize manufacturing, requiring manufacturers to redesign production and process planning and the way material engineering is conducted. It calls for a completely new way of thinking, free of traditional manufacturability constraints. It relies on rapid computer simulation and processing speeds to generatively find the right design to meet functional requirements.