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Introduction and Overview

THE NEW SHAPE OF MANUFACTURING IN THE INFORMATION AGE

Manufacturing has provided the basis for the high standards of living enjoyed by the industrialized nations of the world. In its ability to produce high-quality jobs, provide a competitive edge in global markets, and foster and sustain growth in national economies, manufacturing is unparalleled. Notwithstanding the increasing role of services, manufacturing will continue to be the cornerstone of the nation’s economy into the 21st century.

Yet the 19th century vision of manufacturing that was realized in past decades can no longer sustain us for the next century (Box 1.1). The efficiencies of scale made possible by mass production of uniform products brought a revolutionary increase in the quality-to-cost ratio. However, the rigidity of mass production is ill-suited to an era of ever more rapid changes in both technology and consumer demand. The emphasis on uniformity of products and high-volume in production runs is giving way to a high degree of customization, short product cycles, and economies of scope rather than scale. We are at the threshold of a long-awaited shift to a flexible manufacturing paradigm, a shift no less important than the one that shaped the industrialized world of the 20th century.

The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century was made possible by major advances in physical processing technologies. The industrial revolution of the 21 st century will depend equally critically on advances in information technologies. Computing and communications technologies provide means for managing the increasing complexity that is characterizing manufacturing processes, products,1 and enterprises (often multiregional, multinational, and multicultural). Indeed, manufacturing is the most complex peacetime activity in which people engage.

The objectives of flexible manufacturing require actions that are decentralized, modular, and distributed in both space and time, but brought together to advance a single overall goal coherently. The ability to achieve this end will depend critically on being able to collect and manage adequate amounts of information, to communicate these in a timely way, to maintain total consistency in the information that is shared, and to translate information into decision and thence to action. These functions constitute precisely the domain of information technology.

The United States is unrivaled in its dominance in technologies for handling information. Any national strategy to achieve supremacy in manufacturing in the 21 st century will necessarily include superiority in information technology. However, this technology alone is not enough—competitive strength is needed in all allied physical technologies. The United States needs to develop the infrastructure, both physical and human, that will support



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Information Technology and Manufacturing: A Preliminary Report on Research Needs 1 Introduction and Overview THE NEW SHAPE OF MANUFACTURING IN THE INFORMATION AGE Manufacturing has provided the basis for the high standards of living enjoyed by the industrialized nations of the world. In its ability to produce high-quality jobs, provide a competitive edge in global markets, and foster and sustain growth in national economies, manufacturing is unparalleled. Notwithstanding the increasing role of services, manufacturing will continue to be the cornerstone of the nation’s economy into the 21st century. Yet the 19th century vision of manufacturing that was realized in past decades can no longer sustain us for the next century (Box 1.1). The efficiencies of scale made possible by mass production of uniform products brought a revolutionary increase in the quality-to-cost ratio. However, the rigidity of mass production is ill-suited to an era of ever more rapid changes in both technology and consumer demand. The emphasis on uniformity of products and high-volume in production runs is giving way to a high degree of customization, short product cycles, and economies of scope rather than scale. We are at the threshold of a long-awaited shift to a flexible manufacturing paradigm, a shift no less important than the one that shaped the industrialized world of the 20th century. The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century was made possible by major advances in physical processing technologies. The industrial revolution of the 21 st century will depend equally critically on advances in information technologies. Computing and communications technologies provide means for managing the increasing complexity that is characterizing manufacturing processes, products,1 and enterprises (often multiregional, multinational, and multicultural). Indeed, manufacturing is the most complex peacetime activity in which people engage. The objectives of flexible manufacturing require actions that are decentralized, modular, and distributed in both space and time, but brought together to advance a single overall goal coherently. The ability to achieve this end will depend critically on being able to collect and manage adequate amounts of information, to communicate these in a timely way, to maintain total consistency in the information that is shared, and to translate information into decision and thence to action. These functions constitute precisely the domain of information technology. The United States is unrivaled in its dominance in technologies for handling information. Any national strategy to achieve supremacy in manufacturing in the 21 st century will necessarily include superiority in information technology. However, this technology alone is not enough—competitive strength is needed in all allied physical technologies. The United States needs to develop the infrastructure, both physical and human, that will support

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Information Technology and Manufacturing: A Preliminary Report on Research Needs BOX 1.1 MANUFACTURING ERAS There have been several eras in the history of modern manufacturing during which fundamental changes occurred in the way manufacturing was performed, the processes used, the products made, and the economic power of the locale in which manufacturing was taking place.* In the earliest paradigm, the transformation from raw material or subassemblies into a more valuable final product was carried out by skilled artisans and craftspersons, people who practiced under expert supervision until they achieved proficiency. These experts performed the entire task of transformation, from raw material to final assembly and test, mostly by hand. An area’s economic wealth depended on the skills of local artisans and craftspersons, and world fame accrued to specific areas that manufactured specific goods. London, Imari, Leeds, Birmingham, and other artisan centers achieved world renown. During the Industrial Revolution, when steam power became readily available, economic wealth shifted to locations that had inexpensive access to power sources such as coal, oil, and hydroelectric power; to raw materials such as iron, aluminum, and copper; or to low-cost transportation via rivers or seaports. Economic wealth was determined largely by the capital equipment available to transform raw materials into finished goods. Pittsburgh, Gary, the Ruhr Valley, and other smokestack areas became centers of the new manufacturing capabilities. The latter part of the Industrial Revolution introduced mass production methodology, changing the nature of work from a “do it all” process to a specialization process. Specialists now performed repetitive tasks in one specific activity, substantially decreasing the cost of the finished product. Interchangeability of parts became critical, but knowledge about how the entire product came together decreased. Detroit, Wolfsberg, Osaka, and others became centers of mass production. The next major paradigm shift, leading up to the 21st century vision discussed in this report, occurred after capital and access to raw materials became widely available and were no longer competitive advantages; U.S. manufacturers faced greater, worldwide competition. Various approaches to reduce costs and improve delivery were undertaken, with significant attention being paid to industrial engineering. Knowledge became important, as did quality control, time studies of manufacturing processes, flexible organization, skilled workers, and so on. The availability of an educated work force became a driver of economic wealth. Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Seattle, Tokyo, Route 128, and others became the new centers of excellence. *   A more comprehensive, engineering-oriented examination of manufacturing epochs can be found in a table on the evolution of manufacturing in the following: Jaikumar, Ramchandran. 1988. “From Filing and Fitting to Flexible Manufacturing,” Harvard Business School working paper No. 88–045. Boston, Mass. Reproduced in R.Jaikumar, “200 Years to CIM,” IEEE Spectrum 30(9):26–27. appropriate technology development and deployment. It needs to make the investment required to apply relevant technologies in building effective production facilities. Information technology is only one of many areas in which the nation must continue to invest, but it is the differentiator that will give the United States a competitive edge. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF MANUFACTURING Manufacturing involves the processes of designing products, planning and executing their transformation from raw materials into finished goods with high quality and low cost,

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Information Technology and Manufacturing: A Preliminary Report on Research Needs and delivering them on time to a customer. Information age manufacturing is fundamentally different from materials age manufacturing because the value of tangible items is diminishing in relation to the value of information. Increasingly, knowledge workers and industries produce, transform, and distribute information rather than, or in addition to, materials. The information may reside in the finished products themselves or in the processes required to design them, make them, verify them before sale, market and distribute them, and store and retrieve the information that describes them. Computer-based products such as personal computers, disk drives, and telecommunications switches are obvious examples of information-intensive products, but information is becoming more important even to the simplest products as manufacturers increase their ability to collect, analyze, and use information to decide what to produce, how, when, in what quantity, and where. Modeling and prototyping, real-time control, and enterprise integration are three classes of applications that epitomize the challenges and opportunities for enhancing manufacturing with information technology (Box 1.2). Each of these classes of application is aimed at achieving better understanding and more effective management of the complexity inherent in manufacturing. Solving technical and implementation problems in these areas is critical to achieving such benefits as higher product quality, faster time to production, faster time to market, lower inventory, and better equipment utilization. These applications are fundamental to the 21st century vision of manufacturing. Our understanding of information and its implications in the manufacturing context is limited, and information technology today contains only some of the needed capabilities. For example, some new products are already so complex that current data access methods and design techniques are unable to explore the design space or predict either desired operating characteristics or major failure modes. Enterprises cannot yet implement information systems efficiently: it is not uncommon for the time required to design, install, and test the information system for a new factory to exceed, sometimes by a factor of two, the time required to build the physical facility and install the material processing equipment. (See Appendix A for one individual’s vision of 21st century manufacturing.) In addition to such technical barriers, financial issues also inhibit the achievement of information age manufacturing. Although the committee believes that information technology has huge value, current accounting principles still attach all the value to the materials used in a product and cannot accurately value embedded knowledge; software is typically treated as an expense by companies that depend on it even though it has the character of an asset to its users. BOX 1.2 INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES Modeling and prototyping: The achievement of more flexible manufacturing requires accurate modeling of the enormously complex physical realities of products, processes, and production. Modeling is a means for understanding what does and does not work in a design or a process; prototyping extends that analysis into a physical context. Real-time control: Real-time control of the overall process is needed in order to achieve self-correction and self-improvement of systems, both essential for true flexibility, as well as enhanced visibility of manufacturing operations (e.g., are we performing to plan?) for better coordination and management. Enterprise integration: Faster time to production, broadening geographic reach, and a shift toward more customized products imply a need to integrate the entire enterprise of manufacturing, which is complex, disparate, decentralized, and distributed in both time and space.

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Information Technology and Manufacturing: A Preliminary Report on Research Needs The capture and use of information to design products and processes gives us for the first time an accurate view of how complex manufacturing really is. A number of basic challenges become apparent: Planners and designers, as well as production and repair personnel, will require timely access to information from disparate sources in a variety of media and formats. Such access will require mechanisms to coordinate the use and sharing of distributed information. Combining ideas from diverse and possibly unverified sources will pose new challenges for incoming quality control of information analogous to traditional product supplier quality control. Information-intensive design and manufacturing processes, including test and verification, will be fundamentally different in scale and scope from traditional design and manufacturing, in order to accommodate, exploit, and manage the anticipated complexity and such new product properties as reconfigurability and customizability. Both manufacturers and users of such novel products will need help. In an environment of complexity, it will be critically important to have effective processes for handling information-rich activities such as sorting, decision making, and conflict resolution, which occur daily in manufacturing. Individuals and software processes will access information by using a variety of devices and communication schemes, from a variety of sources that typically will not be a static set. Thus managing access to information in a transparent manner, regardless of its source, will be as important as negotiating and sorting the information accessed. In summary, information technology holds both promise and challenge, opportunity and risk. Given the novelty of information technology and the fact that its technical and financial properties are not understood, it is not clear how to structure new information-intensive manufacturing enterprises and information-related investments or how to determine priorities for the supporting research. The challenge is thus to identify where information technology can help create efficient post-mass-production manufacturing as well as to identify gaps in its ability to do so. This report seeks to do just that. A MATRIX OF MANUFACTURING NEEDS A number of needs must be met before the United States can fully achieve the vision of information age manufacturing. Those needs can be grouped broadly into three areas of opportunity: Integrated product and process design—methods and equipment used to design products and production processes, generally done once or a few times per product life cycle; Shop floor and production systems—methods and equipment used to schedule, fabricate, and assemble products, generally done on a recurring basis in response to product orders; and Infrastructure—methods and equipment used to support enterprise-wide activities and amortized over many products for the lifetime of the factory. These three areas relate generally to the three thrusts outlined by the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology (FCCSET) in its Advanced

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Information Technology and Manufacturing: A Preliminary Report on Research Needs Manufacturing Technology Initiative—integrated tools for product, process, and enterprise design; “intelligent” manufacturing equipment and systems; and advanced manufacturing technology infrastructure—while conforming better to the committee’s sense of how activities ought to be grouped. Of course, these areas are interdependent. For example, the product and process design must be done in such a way that the shop floor production is attainable—products must be designed in such a way that the required tolerances match those of the design processes available. In order to yield a quality product, the product must be designed to be robustly producible and testable. Both the committee and the FCCSET taxonomies illustrate that although there are many focused information technology applications for manufacturing, a growing number of applications are cross-cutting and in the nature of infrastructure. The federal government can promote progress in the three areas by sponsoring activities in three categories: Research that directly supports manufacturing applications of information technology. Research that is not specific to manufacturing but that generally supports the vision of intelligent manufacturing. Nonresearch leverage points that relate to the social, organizational, economic, or other conditions that affect the rate, nature, and success of applications of information technology in manufacturing. ORGANIZATION OF THIS REPORT This report presents the committee’s preliminary recommendations for action to support information technology for advanced manufacturing. The recommendations were developed in a framework defined by the three areas and the three types of government action listed above. Figure 1.1 summarizes the recommendations in a matrix that includes a mapping between the committee’s and FCCSET’s taxonomies. Because the nonresearch leverage points relate to all three areas, they are presented as a block. The research recommendations focus on information-technology-related areas, reflecting the committee’s charge and focus. Although the committee discussed, revised, and consolidated its list of recommendations, the limited time available for preparing this preliminary report did not allow the committee to derive clear priorities or to assess how such priorities might vary by industry. For example, although both involve production of discrete products, electronic and mechanical manufacturing are significantly different. Hence the goal of producing one unit economically may be more meaningful for a mechanical product (e.g., a car) than for an electronic one (e.g., a very large scale integration (VLSI) circuit chip). On the other hand, tight integration of design and manufacturing is important for both kinds of product. The committee hopes that feedback from the circulation of this preliminary report will help it to further refine and focus its recommendations in its final report. The remaining chapters of the report outline research needs related to integrated product and process design (Chapter 2), shop floor and production systems (Chapter 3), and infrastructure (Chapter 4) and describe nonresearch leverage points (Chapter 5). The final report of the committee will consider these research needs in greater depth. In addition to the sharper focusing anticipated above, the final report is also expected to address how research needs associated with the pursuit of incremental changes in manufacturing differ from research needs related to the introduction of more radical or generational changes.

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Information Technology and Manufacturing: A Preliminary Report on Research Needs FIGURE 1.1 RESEARCH AND LEVERAGE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTION TO SUPPORT INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY FOR ADVANCED MANUFACTURING   Integrated Product and Process Design Shop Floor and Production Systems Infrastructure Research That Directly Supports Manufacturing Applications of Information Technology • Design by functiona • Product-process data modela • Capture of nominal and variant behaviora • Design methods and tools for groups of parts and systemsa • Process descriptiona • Novel design considerationsa Equipment controlsb • Sensorsb • Dynamic schedulingb • Intelligent routing systemsb • Smart partsb • Modeling of manufacturing systemsb • Rapidly reconfigurable production systemsb • Resource description modelsb • Knowledge bases for new process methodsb • Architectures and standardsc • Data communications networksc • Database systemsc • Architectures for autonomy and distributed intelligencec • Enterprise and inter-enterprise integrationa Research That Is Not Specific to Manufacturing • Decision aidsa • Geometric reasoninga • Knowledge and information managementa • Complex systems theoryb • Software engineeringc • Dependable computing systemsb • Collaboration technology/computer-supported cooperative workc Nonresearch Leverage Points • Technology transfer/academic-industrial interaction • Implementation issues • Education, training, and retraining aResearch area that falls under the FCCSET thrust “integrated tools for product, process, and enterprise design.” bResearch area that falls under the FCCSET thrust “‘intelligent’ manufacturing equipment and systems.” cResearch area that falls under the FCCSET thrust “advanced manufacturing technology infrastructure.”

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Information Technology and Manufacturing: A Preliminary Report on Research Needs CAVEATS Although the research needs discussed in Chapters 2 through 4 are appealing and potentially valuable, the difficulty of implementing them is not discussed in this report. Some of them may in fact be unattainable in the manner described here or by methods currently available. Some of them have been suggested previously (see the bibliography) but have not yet yielded to research efforts. It is essential to monitor progress in each of these areas and to be ready to halt unproductive approaches and begin anew if necessary. At the same time, it is important to identify those research problems that are critical, that is, those that may be so integral and pervasive that failure to make progress in them would endanger an entire research effort. In such critical areas, we should be prepared to seek nearer-term results to at least approach, if not necessarily solve, the problems. Thus we can ensure that some results will actually be achieved and can guard against the mindset that the solution is always just a few years away, if only more time and money are spent. A series of increasingly successful near-term solutions would keep us ahead in a pragmatic, if perhaps not elegant, way. Because the ultimate concern is practical results and not knowledge for its own sake, this economizing of effort and continual focusing on useful results must be made part of the administration of the research effort. An effective research strategy calls for the incorporation of metrics and methods for validation of implicit or explicit hypotheses. Why is a proposed new technology better than conventional technologies? How much better is it? Effective analysis and convincing demonstration of benefits are important for achieving timely dissemination of process improvements and better technology transfer, as well as in the assessment of appropriate next steps. Finally, research funding levels should take into account the costs of necessary research infrastructure. A $100,000 grant, for example, may cover the mathematical elements of a software system for manufacturing, but it will not cover the physical elements necessary to test a system. In manufacturing, the algorithms and the immediate technical implementations are only half of the picture. NOTE 1.   Common products such as automobiles can have thousands of parts, and modern aircraft and integrated circuits include millions of parts or active elements. Each of these examples takes years to design, requiring the design effort of hundreds or thousands of people located in diverse areas around the world. Complex new products based on information content and their accompanying information-dominated design and manufacturing methods already require us to deal with entirely new scales of complexity. Some products require such levels of precision, delicacy, or cleanliness that people can no longer make or assemble the parts; in some cases, they cannot even see them.