Vision of Manufacturing in 2020

The committee developed an information gathering process based on two primary mechanisms:

  • A workshop was held for participants (primarily from the United States) representing a broad range of manufacturing expertise. The workshop included presentations and discussions on future trends in economics, business practices, environmental concerns, and manufacturing issues. A summary of the workshop presentations and discussions is included in the report as Appendix A.
  • An international Delphi survey of manufacturing experts (more than 40 percent outside the United States) was conducted. Summaries of the survey methodology and results are included in this report as Appendices B and C.

The committee found that the experts who participated in the workshop and survey had a very positive collective vision for manufacturing in 20 years. The most important technical, political, and economic forces for the development of manufacturing are listed below:

  • The competitive climate, enhanced by communication and knowledge sharing, will require rapid responses to market forces.
  • Sophisticated customers, many in newly developed countries, will demand products that are customized to meet their needs.
  • The basis of competition will be creativity and innovation in all aspects of the manufacturing enterprise.
  • The development of innovative process technologies will change both the scope and scale of manufacturing.
  • Environmental protection will be essential as the global ecosystem is strained by growing populations and the emergence of new high-technology economies.
  • Information and knowledge on all aspects of manufacturing enterprises and the marketplace will be instantly available in a form that can be effectively assimilated and used for decision making.
  • The global distribution of highly competitive production resources, including skilled workforces, will be a critical factor in the organization of manufacturing enterprises.

Manufacturing enterprises in 2020 will bring new ideas and innovations to the marketplace rapidly and effectively. Individuals and teams will learn new skills rapidly because of advanced network-based learning, computer-based communication across extended enterprises, enhanced communications between people and machines, and improvements in the transaction and alliance infrastructure. Collaborative partnerships will be developed quickly by assembling the necessary resources from a highly distributed manufacturing capability in



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