A FRESH LOOK AT MANUFACTURING

Section I: Current State of Manufacturing in the USA

In this section, I describe the widespread misconceptions about manufacturing that negatively influence decisions to pursue a career in the field. Government policies, especially at the federal level, exacerbate the perception that manufacturing is a dying occupation, causing many people to avoid recommending or pursuing careers in the industry. In contrast to the prevailing beliefs, I then describe how modern manufacturing incorporates cutting-edge technologies in clean, safe, and sophisticated facilities.

Section II: Two Reasons Manufacturing is Important.

In this section, I explore the national interest issues regarding domestic manufacturing, specifically its importance for wealth creation and national defense. These concerns are beyond that of just simple commerce and profit considerations of the private sector. It is my belief that these issues will accelerate manufacturing investments and will drive a new wave of employment and business opportunities.

Section III: About Manufacturing and Business

In this section, I list the main types of manufacturing industries according to the government classification system. There is a wide variety of products described that require varying production methods depending upon what is being made. Smart Manufacturing is a new term that communicates the modern approach to all production methods. I organize what can be confusing terminology in a way that you will find clear and concise. Smart Manufacturing means producing things in a smart manner but also creating smart devices. These smart devices are blurring the lines between what is a product and what is a service. In doing so, new business opportunities are being created for those who understand what customers truly want when buying a product or service.

Section IV: Enabling Technologies: The Hardware Gadgets and Gizmos

In this section, I introduce the physical devices that provide the automation capability of a modern manufacturing plant to run efficiently. The topics I discuss are all key parts of the modern factory. Industrial Networking and Cybersecurity involve securing data transfers within the enterprise and to customers and suppliers. Robotics involve automated “muscle-power” that reduce the need for human workers to perform highly repetitive physical tasks. Additive Manufacturing, sometime referred to as 3D printing, is advancing so rapidly that changes will occur before you even finish reading this book. The technology that enables the designer to create a part with only a computer file and some raw material is revolutionizing entire manufacturing and service industries.

Section V: Enabling Technologies: Stodgy Software and Cool Apps

In this section, I explore the advances in software that are just as important as the hardware in powering Smart Manufacturing operations. Big Data drive important decisions on the plant floor on a real-time basis and at the “Top Floor” where business and investment decisions are made at the executive level. I discuss Augmented and Virtual Reality as they are incorporated into both smart products and Smart Manufacturing factories. Artificial Intelligence provides automated “Brain Power” to reduce the need for human workers to perform highly repetitive mental tasks and, instead, to concentrate on more creative aspects. Digital Twins, the capture of a physical item or process into a computer simulation, is an important emerging technology. So is Blockchain, the ability to provide traceability and ensure authenticity of manufactured items. I finish out this section with Software Rules by listing many types of software platforms that rule the manufacturing facility.

Section VI: Final Thoughts on the Human Element

In this concluding section, I discuss the people part of Smart Manufacturing. While the technologies are impressive and “sci-fi-like” in their sophistication, people play the most important role in manufacturing. The chapter on Soft Skills highlights the importance of human creativity and the ability to form and function in highly effective teams. The final chapter provides tips on how to get started in a Smart Manufacturing career.

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