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Manufacturing Infrastructure: Common Themes, Assessment, and Gaps

Six concurrent workshop sessions of the Second National Conference on Manufacturing Technology were organized to correspond to each of the six CCIT manufacturing infrastructure components. Chapter 2 contains a summary and the NRC committee's overall assessment of each session. This chapter discusses themes that cut across more than one of the infrastructure areas and considers whether any gaps occurred between the different areas. The sources of information were the workshops, the supporting white papers, and the summarizing presentations by the workshop chairs. The chapter also discusses the appropriateness of the current manufacturing infrastructure framework.

COMMON THEMES

The NRC committee identified several themes common to many of the infrastructure workshops:

  • Each workshop emphasized the importance of focusing on the entire manufacturing system (i.e., the chain of supplier–customer relationships from the material supplier to the original equipment manufacturer that assembles parts and components and ships to the equipment user).

  • Information feedback within the supplier–customer chain is vital to a healthy national manufacturing infrastructure. Deployment occurs when this information flow is accompanied by transfer of technology.



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Evaluation of the Second National Conference on Manufacturing Technology 3 Manufacturing Infrastructure: Common Themes, Assessment, and Gaps Six concurrent workshop sessions of the Second National Conference on Manufacturing Technology were organized to correspond to each of the six CCIT manufacturing infrastructure components. Chapter 2 contains a summary and the NRC committee's overall assessment of each session. This chapter discusses themes that cut across more than one of the infrastructure areas and considers whether any gaps occurred between the different areas. The sources of information were the workshops, the supporting white papers, and the summarizing presentations by the workshop chairs. The chapter also discusses the appropriateness of the current manufacturing infrastructure framework. COMMON THEMES The NRC committee identified several themes common to many of the infrastructure workshops: Each workshop emphasized the importance of focusing on the entire manufacturing system (i.e., the chain of supplier–customer relationships from the material supplier to the original equipment manufacturer that assembles parts and components and ships to the equipment user). Information feedback within the supplier–customer chain is vital to a healthy national manufacturing infrastructure. Deployment occurs when this information flow is accompanied by transfer of technology.

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Evaluation of the Second National Conference on Manufacturing Technology The need for manufacturing standards, especially standards for computer-integrated manufacturing, is a critical and pervasive issue. The appropriate role for universities in the national manufacturing infrastructure requires better definition. Attitudes in this regard run the gamut from restricting universities to basic research to involving them heavily in deployment activities. The relative role of federal and state governments in supporting the manufacturing infrastructure requires further debate and definition. The role for each will vary in different areas of the manufacturing infrastructure. ASSESSMENT OF MANUFACTURING INFRASTRUCTURE FRAMEWORK The ultimate test of any particular structured way of dealing with a subject is its usefulness. Does it add value? Does it lead to decisions and actions that contribute to achieving objectives? In this instance, a high-level conference objective was to assist in defining the major components of a common plan for the development of manufacturing technology infrastructure that integrates the efforts of government, industry, academia, and workforce organizations. The manufacturing infrastructure has been broken down into six categories, and a set of priorities has been developed for each category as shown in Table 3-1. These priorities, summarized by the NRC committee from the white papers, have evolved from the series of workshops involving industry, government, and academia representatives. The area of business practices is the sole exception to this pattern in that its first workshop occurred during the conference. The manufacturing infrastructure areas were intended to overlap (as described in Chapter 2), so that programs can be easily integrated across the categories. However, the white papers and the efforts in planning and prioritization have been developed separately, with little overt indication as to how they can be integrated. During the conference, representatives from seven industrial sectors described needs of their particular sector. These needs are summarized in Table 3-2 and are grouped by subject. From these interests, seven common industry themes emerged: global competitiveness, teaming and partnerships, lean and agile manufacturing, rapid product development, skilled workforce, product realization, and environmental issues.

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Evaluation of the Second National Conference on Manufacturing Technology TABLE 3-1 Manufacturing Infrastructure Priorities (from white papers) Advanced Manufacturing Systems Engineering Tools for Design and Manufacturing Advanced Manufacturing Processes and Equipment Common vision Business practice integration Environment consciousness Enabling science and technology Collaborative design methodologies Intelligent control systems Innovative systems concepts Conceptual-phase design tools New methods and equipment International cooperation Design for manufacturability Rapid prototyping Lifecycle product realization Hybrid prototyping Interoperable tools Modeling and simulation   Manufacturing Training and Education Technology Deployment Business Practices Access for entire population All tiers/levels of industrial base Not yet defined Coherent framework Government role should serve as catalyst for action   Consumer information system Leverage existing public and private resources   Financial support mechanisms Provide mechanism for deployment to small and medium enterprises   Improve quality for worker training and education     Leverage government funding     Measure results     In Table 3-3, common industry themes are matched with the six manufacturing infrastructure categories and an evaluation made of the strength of the linkages. In general, the linkages with industry needs do not appear to be strong and should be greatly strengthened if useful

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Evaluation of the Second National Conference on Manufacturing Technology action is to emerge from the manufacturing infrastructure categories. The NRC committee strongly suggests that each working group examine its linkages with these industry needs and create strong connections wherever appropriate. It is not clear that the three participants in the manufacturing agenda—industry, government, and academia—have strong roles to play in each of the six manufacturing infrastructure categories. Although industry has a strong role in every category, government and academia may not. An overall industry lead is important in partnership with government and academia. Existing programs sponsored by the industry and government, such as Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, Aerospace Industry Association, USFEAST or AMTEX, or an industry-sponsored program such as the National Electronic Manufacturing Initiative fall into the framework categories of advanced manufacturing systems and advanced manufacturing processes and equipment. There appear to be opportunities for fruitful collaboration in these two areas. The lack of collaborative programs in the other infrastructure categories may suggest that productive collaboration (1) is more difficult to define in these areas, (2) has not been attempted, or (3) exists, but instances were unknown to the workshop participants and white paper authors. The NRC committee recommends that each working group consider the question of the value-added government role in each manufacturing infrastructure category. A clear description should be given of that role and the value it adds. Wherever possible, these deliberations should be industry-led to provide the best possible chance for economically sound decisions. Government-sponsored or -funded programs that are created from the six manufacturing infrastructure categories must also have strong industry participation to keep them aimed at commercially important targets. Overall, the six categories appear to be a viable way of developing a national manufacturing agenda provided that certain conditions are met: Each category is more strongly linked to industry needs. Appropriate, value-added roles for industry, government, and academia are clearly defined for each category. Areas of overlap between categories are recognized and suitably dealt with. Actions created from the six categories have strong industry participation and leadership.

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Evaluation of the Second National Conference on Manufacturing Technology TABLE 3-2 Industry Needs and Interestsa Common Themes Aerospace Sector Food Sector Automotive Sector Global Competitiveness World leadership Nationalized competitors High-value products for exports Advanced systems—quality, cost, time to market Teaming and Partnerships Industry integrated through teams and alliances Industry safety standards Food and health Supplier/prime access to same technology Precompetitive research through consortia Lean and Agile Manufacturing Flexible manufacturing processes and equipment — — Rapid Product Development Integrated product and process development Design for manufacture and assembly Standard product definition Process simulation — Single data standard for product, tooling, and process Organized into platform teams Computer models and simulations Skilled Workforce — Attract young researchers Training and education Product Realization Affordability and profitability at low production rates Realistic market-risk appraisal — Expand capability and efficiency of process equipment Environmental Issues — Industrial ecology (solid waste reduction, reduce water use) — a Table entries have been identified based solely on the presentations by the Panel on Manufacturing Sector Needs and Issues.

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Evaluation of the Second National Conference on Manufacturing Technology Heavy Equipment Sector Apparel and Textile Sector Chemical Sector Electronics Sector Customer-driven technology Reduce delivery times Level global playing field Focus on customer needs and core business Effective use of U.S. strengths (basic science and information technology, largest market, semiconductor technology) Supplier involvement Partnerships with government, industry, and Industry/DOE partnership (AMTEX) Research, education,and technology-transfer organizations — Reduce risks of technology deployment Precompetitive research in manufacturing systems Cellular manufacturing lines, just-in-time inventory, statistical quality control — — — Concurrent product-process development Advanced simulation capability Reduce time to market Organize into strategic business units — Knowledgeable workers — High-performance work teams — Modernize facilities and processes Cost reduction with high quality Breakthroughs from modeling, simulation, and process measurement Focus on technology for near-term deployment — Reduce waste — —

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Evaluation of the Second National Conference on Manufacturing Technology TABLE 3-3 Evaluation of Linkages Between Industry Themes and Manufacturing Infrastructure Common Industry Sector Themesa Manufacturing Infrastructure Categories Lean/Agile Manufacturing Rapid Product Development Teaming and Partnerships Skilled Workforce Environmental Issues Global Competitiveness Product Realization Advanced Manufacturing Systems + 0 + 0 + + 0 Engineering Tools for Design/Manufacturing 0 + + − − 0 + Advanced Manufacturing Processes and Equipment + + + 0 − + 0 Manufacturing Training and Education − − 0 + − + − Technology Deployment − − + 0 − + − Business Practices ?? ?? NOT YET DEFINED ?? ?? + Strong link 0 Weak link − No link or very eak link a Industry themes are based soley on presentations by the Panel on Manufacturing Sector Needs and Issues.

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Evaluation of the Second National Conference on Manufacturing Technology GAPS The decomposition of the manufacturing infrastructure into separately developed categories has resulted in several key aspects being neglected when viewed from an overall system viewpoint: An effective workforce was described as critical by most of the speakers on the panel “Manufacturing Needs and Issues.” However, the manufacturing infrastructure workshop devoted to training and education came primarily from an academic perspective. Neither the workshop nor the white paper considered the range of activities required for an effectively trained workforce. Representation from organizations involved in workforce training, including trade organizations, unions, and the U.S. Department of Labor would have been particularly helpful. The workshop on manufacturing deployment and supporting white paper only addressed efforts related to small and medium-sized companies that produce discrete parts; large manufacturing companies were ignored even though the speakers on the panel “Manufacturing Needs and Issues ” summarized needs that included large manufacturing companies. Also, only one mechanism, the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Program, was addressed even though there are other relevant programs. The excellent invited presentation and the inclinations of many of the participants focused the advanced manufacturing processes and equipment workshop session generally on the discrete machined components industry, and specifically on the machine tool industry. Broader discussions of breakthrough, advanced manufacturing processes such as high-speed machining, adaptive feedback control, on-line sensors, or rapid sheet-metal forming were not included in the session but would be key to the success of next-generation manufacturing. Throughout the conference, the role of universities appeared to be an afterthought. Academic institutions were apparently not considered to be a true partner in the process. While it is necessary for manufacturing industries to take the lead in defining their needs and to identify the issues that need to be resolved, the solutions cannot be achieved without strong academic participation.

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Evaluation of the Second National Conference on Manufacturing Technology Little recognition was given in the workshops and white papers to the significant investments already made in many of the manufacturing infrastructure areas. Consequently little, if any, attention was given to methods and tools that could facilitate migrating to the new manufacturing technologies. There was very little discussion in the workshops or the white papers about environmental issues. SUMMARY The six manufacturing infrastructure white papers were developed individually, and thus it is not surprising to find substantial overlaps and some gaps. In translating these areas into future actions, it will be necessary to understand the overlaps to avoid duplication of activities and to address the omission of topics of major importance. An effective way to accomplish this is to integrate all the elements back together. The results of this integration can effectively be depicted schematically. That is, program activity can be graphically displayed on a timeline such that relations of activities to one another and to desired goals are explicitly identified.