One of the driving forces behind the Industrial Revolution was to equip factories with the machinery and infrastructure necessary to mass produce new commodities. Vehicles were becoming to exponentially gain demand, and they needed to be created quicker than the manufacturing industry was prepared for.
In today's world, on the contrary, is deviating from the purposes the assembly line and mass production were created for, and is beginning to focus on a new manufacturing model.
We are moving into an era where consumers want their products/services customized to their specifications and they influence demand on a personal & unique way. Business leaders now look to digital manufacturing to answer these desires.
Digital Manufacturing can be defined as an integrated approach to manufacturing that is centered around a computer system, combines conventional physical manufacturing with software.
The greatest three benefits of this that has been observed by pilot companies are: enhanced customization, real-time reactions/adaptations to market shifts, and reduced lead time.
As stated previously, the driving force behind digital manufacturing is consumers demanding mass-customization and supply to cater to their personal demand; thus the benefits seem to fall suit.
How exactly does digital manufacturing provide greater customization?
Lets face it, from a business's perspective, customization is neither time or cost efficient. Producing standardized products is always ideal, but is no longer effective in gaining consumers' buy in.
For example, lets say that a certain piece of hardware is used for separate industries or uses and require different software/systems for operation. This would require multiple short runs of production, which is typically very inefficient. With digital manufacturing, utilizing complex algorithms from computer software, companies can respond to market fluctuations and changes in real-time demand. This makes low-volume and high variance production runs more economical.
Additionally, companies implementing digital manufacturing have stated that it makes ordering parts and equipment much more efficient by automating purchase orders based on production runs.
Enterprises have also noted that implementing digital manufacturing assists in front-end engineering through automation; allowing them to reduce design and trial times, speeding up time-to-market. This has helped these companies gain an edge over their competitors by being the first movers in a market.
As we look towards the future, we see the manufacturing world is constantly evolving. We must adopt new methods to keep up with trends, or our business models will parish. Check out our article Adopting a Culture of Adaptation for more information on this ideology.