Grand Challenges for Manufacturing
The vision for 2020 and beyond described in Chapter 1 suggests considerable changes in the manufacturing enterprise. The social and political environment, the needs of the marketplace, and opportunities created by technological breakthroughs will drive these changes. Moving from the current status of manufacturing to manufacturing in 2020 will present major challenges, which the committee defines as "grand challenges" or fundamental goals, that would make realization of the vision possible. The six grand challenges are listed below:
- achieve concurrency in all operations
- integrate human and technical resources to enhance workforce performance and satisfaction
- instantaneously transform information gathered from a vast array of sources into useful knowledge for making effective decisions
- reduce production waste and product environmental impact to "near zero"
- reconfigure manufacturing enterprises rapidly in response to changing needs and opportunities
- develop innovative manufacturing processes and products with a focus on decreasing dimensional scale
In this chapter, the grand challenges are discussed and enabling technologies for each challenge are identified.
Grand Challenge 1: Concurrent Manufacturing
Grand Challenge number 1 is to achieve concurrency in all operations . In the context of this report, "concurrency" means that planning, development, and
implementation will be done in parallel, rather than sequentially. The goal is for the conceptualization, design, and production of products and services to be as concurrent as possible to reduce time-to-market, encourage innovation, and improve quality. Concurrent manufacturing enterprises will consider product support, including delivery, servicing, and end-of-life disposition (recycling, reuse, or disposal), during the design and production phases. All aspects of manufacturing will be networked so that informed decisions concerning one activity can be made based on knowledge and experience from all aspects of the enterprise. Feedback during the lifetime of products and services will be continuous.
Concurrent manufacturing will revolutionize the ways people interact at all levels of an organization. "Teamwork" is the word used to describe these interactions, but it may not accurately describe the relationships of the future. Interactive computer networks will link workers in all aspects of the business. New social relationships and communication skills will be necessary, as well as a new corporate culture in which success will require not only expertise and experience, but also the ability to use knowledge quickly and effectively.
Concurrency will drastically shorten the time between the conception of a product and its realization. For example:
- Consumer products that now take six to nine months to reach the market will be delivered to customers within weeks of conceptualization.
- Large products that are combinations of mechanical structures and electronics that now take years to develop will be put into service within months.
- Microprocessor design will be reduced to a two-month cycle supported by flexible fabrication facilities that can produce new designs in a month.
- Composite and synthetic materials will be available almost immediately after their properties have been specified for product applications.
Many competitive pressures will force the reduction of time-to-market:
- Market opportunities will arise and disappear quickly.
- Lot sizes or batch sizes will be small as customers demand products and services tailored to meet their individual needs.
- Rapid changes in available technologies will cause rapid changes in products and reductions in production costs.
- Competitors from all parts of the world will enter and exit markets rapidly as opportunities emerge and fade.
Concurrency is a natural response to the corporate enterprises envisioned in Chapter 1, in which core competencies and knowledge of different segments of the extended enterprise will be dynamically combined to meet specific, narrowly defined market opportunities. Accurate estimates, optimization, and tracking of product costs and revenues will greatly reduce financial risks.
Concurrent manufacturing is a grand challenge that will require not only
significant new technologies in communication and processes by which products are conceived and produced, but also a new definition of the social and cultural environment of manufacturing organizations. This will be particularly important for global, multidisciplinary, multicultural, and highly transient organizations.
The recent introduction of methodologies for integrated product and process designs and of integrated product teams has reduced time-to-market significantly (e.g., for recent automobile models1 and microprocessors). But even the most advanced collaborative design software cannot incorporate tacit knowledge, respond to changing markets or organizational structures, or accommodate multilingual or multicultural projects.
Manufacturing enterprises today are struggling just to exchange design data. Exchange standards for product data, such as STEP (Standard for the Exchange of Product-Model Data [www.nist.gov/sc4/www/stepdocs/htm]), are just beginning to be accepted. Products that have been completely specified in digital form include the Boeing 777 (Computing Canada, 1997; CAD/CAM Update, 1997). However, exchanges of design data have been limited by the lack of interoperable systems-level applications software. The development of exchange standards for process data has been hampered by difficulties in characterizing and integrating processes. Enterprise resource planning is being implemented to manage resources more effectively, but large companies have encountered significant difficulties in the integration of enterprise resource planning with their design functions.
The development of designs that treat the entire life cycle of products is now a subject for academic research, but little has been done to integrate processes and life cycle costs and management into overall designs. Although high performance computers may eventually have sufficient computational capacity for comprehensive integrated designs (if models and simulations could be expressed and presented adequately), the optimization of product and process life cycles is still a distant possibility.
Technological advances promise to reduce time-to-market, although barriers to implementing them must still be overcome. Rapid prototyping technologies have shortened product development times and improved the integration of product and process design; experimental facilities for near-net-shape processes are beginning to build small quantities of parts and products. More flexible machine tools and manufacturing cells have reduced some set-up times from hours to minutes, although most manufacturing is still done by inflexible machine tools in
fixed cells with inflexible controllers. Major product lines, such as automobiles, often require weeks of down time and large capital investments in new machines and retooling when new models are introduced.
The technologies, processes, and systems that support the small, tentative steps toward concurrency being taken today are primitive compared to the requirements for the future. New technologies will have to support new organizational concepts that can enable geographically distributed work units, with multicultural and multidisciplinary participation, to work concurrently and to adapt and change rapidly.
The level of concurrency envisioned by the committee will require technological advances in four key areas: systems modeling capability; modular, adaptable design methodologies; adaptable manufacturing processes and equipment; and materials and processes.
Systems Modeling Capability
Systems models that can synthesize all aspects of a manufacturing enterprise will ensure that operational decisions contribute to a feasible, even optimal, solution. Modeling and simulation of an entire manufacturing enterprise will be used in concurrent, enterprise-wide planning and for making real-time operational decisions. Future systems models must incorporate all aspects of manufacturing, including equipment, processes, and the ways people interact with them in manufacturing systems (e.g., human-machine interfaces and processes and subsystems that enhance human performance and promote intelligent input). The issues are more complex than simple ergonomics and include considerations of human cognition and learning.
Modular and Adaptable Design Methodologies
To support concurrency, designs will have to be readily adaptable to a broad range of products, processes, and process parameters. Design methodologies will draw on libraries of reusable design modules that consider waste generation, raw material and resource utilization, manufacturing costs, maintenance time, and other parameters.
Adaptable Processes and Equipment
Concurrent manufacturing will require processes that can be rapidly adapted to manufacture new products to meet dynamic market demands. Producing several customized products on the same process line will require adaptable
manufacturing processes and systems that can be quickly reconfigured. Digital representations of product designs will have to be developed quickly and transformed into finished products with minimal set-up time or human intervention. Process designs will have to flow seamlessly into machine or process set-up and product fabrication based on programmable, net-shape, flexible forming processes that do not require hard tooling. Modular equipment will be used whenever possible, with integratable, "plug-and-play" hardware and software components.
Materials and Processes
The rapid realization of new products will require processes that can produce totally new materials and shapes. These processes are likely to make use of new materials with new properties and structures. For example, large production-quality components with varying material properties and high dimensional precision can be produced using free-form fabrication. Materials for one-of-a-kind products may have to be created just for one use. Customizing new materials and shapes will require that processes be controllable at the atomic level to produce synthetic materials to meet specific, perhaps novel, performance objectives. This will necessitate the development of modeling capabilities that can derive the properties of the bulk materials from representations of atomic structures.
Most biotechnological manufacturing will involve systems that use biological processes to produce materials defined at the molecular level and then use these materials to produce finished products. Biotechnological manufacturing will also involve complex organic subprocesses, similar in some cases to processes used in the chemical industry; in other cases, biotechnology will involve organic growth.
Grand Challenge 2: Integration of Human and Technical Resources
Manufacturing technologies will continue to be planned, operated, maintained, coordinated, and enhanced by people in the year 2020. A global, competitive, fast-changing environment will make technology increasingly dependent on people. Technologies will have to be capable of adapting to the changing needs of the market, and people will have to know how to optimize and enhance them. Grand Challenge number 2 is to integrate human and technical resources to enhance workforce performance and satisfaction.
Manufacturers will be under tremendous competitive pressures to customize their products. Individuals and teams will have to be agile to maintain control over time and technology and capitalize on both. Successful organizations will have to educate their workers to consider time and technology as challenges to productivity, and workers at all levels will have to be knowledgeable about their products, the markets and customers that buy them, the processes used to make them, and the way their businesses operate. Whether manufacturing enterprises
are part of a corporation or part of a network, they will have to be small, flexible, and highly competitive. Manufacturing enterprises will require integrated systems, automated routine functions, and people dedicated to finding solutions to address customer's needs.
Analysis of Chapter 1 shows that five principal factors will compel the integration of human and technical resources:
- To meet market demands, all members of the workforce will have to react quickly to customers, who will have high expectations and many choices.
- The rapid response environment will require effective communications at all levels of an organization, especially with customers, suppliers, and partners.
- The rapid assimilation of new technologies will require rapid learning throughout the enterprise.
- Frequent reconfigurations will require that enterprises adopt a systems approach.
- Successful enterprises will require that workers be self-motivated and have a sense of ownership of manufacturing and business processes.
Enterprises that can teach workers new skills quickly will have a competitive edge. Technologies that facilitate continuous learning will be essential. These technologies will be capable of making quick simulations of the likely consequences of future events and will allow people to acquire and use the results of the simulation quickly.
Manufacturing centers will operate within networks. Although the networks might be regional or community-based, they are likely to include other manufacturing centers around the world. The network will also include suppliers, partners, and customers. Highly skilled, knowledgeable workers will have to be able to communicate effectively within the enterprise, and direct communications between workers and customers will be commonplace. Workers will be able to communicate directly with customers based on their comprehensive understanding of the organization. Decisions to transfer critical work to a supplier or partner will be made by workers, who will be directly responsible for producing the product. In other words, those who are closest to the manufacturing process will be the ones who make promises to customers about product features, delivery, and price.
Because enterprises will have to be reconfigured frequently to meet production demands and new processes and products will be introduced continuously, job requirements will be constantly changing. To cope with these demands, each employee or employee group will have to become a business unit manager or a member of a business unit management team. Individual workers will continue to have specialized technical skills, but they will share their knowledge much more freely than they do today. Workers will have to make judgments that affect, and are affected by, the entire supply chain. In this environment, the business unit manager's responsibility will extend not just from ''stock to dock," but also to
strategic planning, market research, community outreach, product/process design, and recycling.
As increasingly complex technologies are developed, new ways will have to be developed to analyze and implement them in ways that workers can readily understand and use. Workers will have to be able to integrate technology into their daily work in ways that take advantage of the benefits of new technologies. Technologies will have to be configurable to the needs of individual workers. In addition, workers will have to be both skilled and experienced in many functions and disciplines of manufacturing to appreciate the enterprise as a whole.
Factory configurations will have to be less structured than they are today so that, in most situations, workers will be able to reorganize equipment and processes to meet customer demands. Detailed process design and planning will have to be accomplished by working teams, with minimal involvement from management. The workers will determine when and if automation will contribute to the speed and quality of production.
Maintaining worker enthusiasm and acceptance will be crucial in a world of highly mobile workers. Worker and employer loyalties will have to be replaced by new values and rules that will benefit both. Worker performance will have to be measured by a worker's ability to synthesize knowledge to make effective decisions in the face of uncertainty and the ability to motivate others. Outcome will be of paramount importance in this reward system. A worker's knowledge of technology and manufacturing and business processes may be the basis for judging their ability to contribute to the overall system. As a result, workers will have to strive to become more knowledgeable to enhance their decision-making capabilities and sense of ownership, which in turn will enhance their enthusiasm and motivation.
A worker's level of knowledge, enthusiasm, and motivation will make them valuable in the marketplace. Workers in this climate will need a wide range of skills, including strategic planning, market analysis, engineering design, supply chain management, finance, production planning, and order fulfillment. Although not everyone in the manufacturing enterprise will be expert in all skills, the more skills an individual has, the more valuable they will be to the organization. Workers will need a supportive work climate and technologies that support this continuous learning process. The fear associated with changing jobs, companies, or even moving to another region or country must be mitigated by the transferability of a "dossier of knowledge and experience."
New manufacturing technologies must be implemented by people. Some isolated technologies today depend on the integration of human and technical resources, but they are few and far between. Moreover, new technologies can be difficult to implement and maintain, which can slow the rate of innovation.
The manufacturing technologies of today were not intended to support just-in-time user learning, knowledge creation, and flexible use. Most current user interfaces for manufacturing technologies are based on the concept that a profile of what a user needs to know now and in the future can be created. As a result, fixed-formatted interfaces focused on reducing user errors have been developed instead of flexible-formatted interfaces that would encourage the user's creativity. Object-oriented programming, which makes more flexibility feasible, is not yet widely used.
Most manufacturing organizations today have independent databases and tracking systems focused on specific functions or different stages in the supply chain. Although flexible manufacturing systems and computer-integrated manufacturing have been developed, enterprise integration is still a dream rather than a reality for most organizations.
Most effective collaboration today still takes place among a few partners in similar disciplines (e.g., engineers) across a narrow slice of the supply chain using a standardized software package for the interface (e.g., the use of CATIA by Boeing for the 777 [CAD/CAM Update, 1997]). Anyone not comfortable using the standard software package (e.g., small suppliers) may have difficulty adjusting to the collaboration technology. No collaborative tools are available today that would make it possible, for example, for operators and engineers to collaborate virtually unless both are working with the same standard engineering design package. Tools will have to be developed (e.g., CASE tools) to identify inconsistencies in language and create dictionaries that can be used by people in different disciplines.
Efforts to include operational personnel in planning and design activities have been largely unsuccessful so far. Difficulties in the transition to the skilled and empowered workforce envisioned for 2020 include the education and training of a more sophisticated and skilled workforce and the development of human-machine interfaces and enterprise configurations that can account for all skills and interests.
Current production process simulations are primitive and require that operators have specialized knowledge of process models and software tools to run them. Moreover, models of manufacturing operations are usually oversimplified. For example, models of factory processes, integrated with scheduling systems, are of limited use because they do not include human factors like variable skills, discretion, or motivation.
The manufacturing technology of today, including discrete-parts, batch, and continuous manufacturing, can only be reconfigured in very limited ways and only with significant human intervention. By the time data have been input, non-integrated systems have been coordinated, and error-filled programs have been fixed, the market may already have shifted.
Finally, manufacturing process technologies today often relegate people to unimportant or routine work. Tasks are allocated to automated processes first,
and humans are assigned the leftover tasks. This means that (1) routine activities are assigned to workers if machines that can perform these tasks are too expensive and (2) workers who are assigned to perform the more intellectual, non-routine tasks may be too distant from the production process to make effective decisions.
The challenge for 2020 is to develop technologies that enhance people's intellectual contributions to their work, provide people with information and coordination capabilities for the total supply chain, and help people make informed decisions in the face of uncertainties. Manufacturing technologies of the future must perform the following functions:
- ensure that people are always learning when they perform a task
- provide people with real-time information on the status of each step in the supply chain, from market surveys through production to customer use
- enable people to collaborate seamlessly at any stage in the supply chain
- enable people to simulate alternative operational decisions in the face of uncertainties
- enable people to reconfigure processes and products rapidly to adjust to changing market needs without human involvement in routine operations
- provide people with the skills and knowledge to use their time for non-routine tasks, and leave routine labor to machines
- provide systems that effectively operate multicultural networks of people and machines
Substantial technological and sociological advances will be necessary for the development of optimal human/technical systems. The committee has identified the technical areas described below as the most important for developing manufacturing systems that can integrate human and technical resources.
Systems Models for All Manufacturing Operations
Systems models for all manufacturing operations will be required to facilitate operational decisions and dynamically allocate tasks to workers and machines. No single model to describe an entire manufacturing enterprise is available today, although models of various processes or operations of a manufacturing enterprise are available. Systems models for manufacturing operations will be needed to allow the user to apply any model in making decisions, test hypotheses with more than one model, and add knowledge and data to models to improve their utility. Most current models are missing significant information, such as information about worker motivation, competing organizations, and community interests and needs.
Technologies for Converting Information into Knowledge
Information and the ability of people to convert information into useful knowledge are core capabilities for integrating human and technical resources. Information technologies that enhance the synthesis of information and provide multiple views of process information, alternative interpretations, and guidelines for selecting among those views will be needed. An individual's ability to choose among uncertain alternatives will be facilitated by technology that can search for possible alternatives, present that information in a form suited to the individual's learning style, and help test alternative hypotheses in real time.
Unified Methods and Protocols for Exchanging Information
Standards for the exchange of information between people, between organizations, between people and machines, and between machines is fundamental to the integration of human and technical resources. Unified methods and standards of communication will be required to allow people to move from one process to another and modify that process easily as new information becomes available. Protocols for communications will provide significantly more capability, but also greater flexibility, than they do today to allow for intelligent human-machine interactions.
Processes for the Development, Transfer, and Utilization of Technology
Processes and incentives will have to be developed to keep people abreast of rapidly changing technologies, the information needed to apply their knowledge, and the means to disseminate the new information to others. New technologies that will allow people to assess the applicability of a new idea immediately, route it directly to those who need it most, and provide simulation capabilities to experiment with the idea are needed.
New Educational Methods
People will have to learn while they perform a task. Technologies that enable learning will provide people with models of causes and effects, ways to aggregate information to make optimal use of their strengths, and ways to experiment in a safe but realistic environment. Finally, educational technologies could help avoid "cognitive rigidity" by critically assessing stereotypical responses.
Design Methodologies that Include a Broad Range of Product Requirements
Future design methodologies must include a broader range of people in the design process to integrate human and technical resources effectively. Products can be flexibly produced only if the key stakeholders in the entire product life
cycle are involved in their development. Although some companies now include suppliers and after-market customers as stakeholders, the list of stakeholders in the future will be much longer and will include process operators, process maintenance organizations, and product maintenance personnel. Including all of these stakeholders in product design will require resolving the enormous difficulties associated with variations in disciplines, knowledge, and languages. Thus, manufacturing enterprises will need technologies that enable them to design products graphically rather than digitally or to replace abstract performance criteria with functional and virtual prototyping.
Design Methods and Manufacturing Processes for Reconfiguring Products
Reconfiguration processes that require little or no human intervention would free people to become business unit managers. Future technologies should allow workers simply to set the new parameters for a product and inform them graphically of the characteristics, functional uses, limitations, and marketability of the product. A worker would then just "press a button" to have the product made.
New Software Design Methods
Software will no longer be designed by the waterfall method. Methods of participative design and contextual inquiry for designing software and information systems will be widely used. Technologies that support participative design and contextual inquiries, especially computer-based technologies, are required to accelerate the design process and enable the cross-site sharing of knowledge acquired during the design process.
Adaptable, Reconfigurable Manufacturing Processes and Systems
Adaptable, reconfigurable manufacturing processes will respond to the needs of individual workers. For example, a technology might be able to sense the condition of a worker and dynamically reallocate work. Technologies that can sense the condition of the customer, inform the worker, and suggest alternative ways to allocate work are examples of adaptable processes.
Human-machine interfaces must be optimized for people to perform dynamic, real-time scheduling, planning, maintenance, operation, and process improvements. Technologies that enable people to input and retrieve information verbally, graphically, and dynamically could significantly enhance their ability to use computers efficiently. An optimal system will help operators choose what information is used. The technology must enable rapid adjustment to changing
situations and offer the user different kinds of information depending on the situation. The effect of an individual's naturalistic, ecological, and situational cognition on his or her ability to interpret information accurately and quickly will be critical, especially as businesses move toward more decentralized organizations. Finally, the format for presenting information will be a critical aspect of the interface. Technologies to sort through a voluminous amount of information, tailor the information to the user's changing needs, and determine the most readily understandable way to present the information will be required. Thus, the technology will not only customize formats for different users, but will also customize those formats for the urgency of the situation, the user's decision-making style in a given situation, and the nature and type of information being conveyed.
Grand Challenge 3: Conversion of Information to Knowledge
Manufacturers are already fundamentally dependent on information technology, and the dependency will increase in the future. Grand Challenge 3 is to "instantaneously" transform information from a vast array of diverse sources into useful knowledge and effective decisions.
The final report of the next-generation manufacturing study (NGM, 1997) suggests that manufacturers will have to be distributed worldwide to meet customer demands economically. This globalization implies the decentralization of the workforce, which will increase the need for fast, accurate, high quality communications. Because globalization also entails crossing national boundaries, communications will have to be transparent to language and cultural differences. Workers will have to be trained quickly, often at a great distance from the sources of knowledge and expertise. Networks of companies and alliances will have to be created and dissolved in response to rapid changes in business conditions.
Manufacturing enterprises are fundamentally and inescapably dependent on information technology, including the collection, storage, analysis, distribution, and application of information. If the exponential growth of computer and communication technologies (hardware and software) continues at its present rate, businesses of 2020 should be up to the task. The two main challenges will be (1) to capture and store data and information "instantaneously" and transform them into useful knowledge and (2) to make this knowledge available to users (human and machine) "instantaneously" wherever and whenever it is needed in a familiar language and form.
One of the challenges for future manufacturing will be to reduce the lead time for new products. Concurrent design and manufacturing will require the real-time transfer of information between designers and manufacturers. The global distribution of manufacturing resources and expanded supply networks will challenge information systems to maintain operating control. The logistics
of physically moving materiel and inventories will also require real-time transaction-based information systems.
Perhaps the biggest challenge will be in education. Well trained, educated people will make better and faster decisions based on an unprecedented flow of data, information, and knowledge. Only trained and educated people will be able to separate useful information from useless information.
A significant portion of U.S. manufacturing is done by companies with fewer than 100 employees. These small companies, which make up a large portion of the supply chains for large public companies, are often undercapitalized and are not usually on the cutting edge of technology. Small companies have limited access to inexpensive, easy to use information systems linked to the information systems of large companies.
Information technology is often adapted for manufacturing operations by people who are knowledgeable in information technology but not business operations. Consequently, investments in information technology in manufacturing environments have not resulted in the anticipated increases in productivity. It has been estimated that 50 percent of all new business information systems projects fail to attain their economic or operational objectives. The economic effects of information technology on sales, the cost of goods, capital returns, and other economic metrics are not well understood.
Many manufacturers feel that the current system of education—including primary and secondary education, vocational training, and undergraduate education—does not prepare employees for high-technology jobs. For example, universities have been increasingly challenged to train students in the use of advanced information technology to address business basics, including financial analysis and human factors. A truly interdisciplinary curriculum that considers information technology in a global context would make information systems much more useful to manufacturing enterprises.
The technologies used for education and training will have to change to meet the needs of the workforce as more and more enterprises become global, required job skills dramatically change, new technology and manufacturing processes are introduced, and the mobility of the workforce increases. Computer-based training will become the norm. The dynamics of teaching people quickly and remotely will impose significant challenges on instructors, students, and information and communications technologies. A major task will be to create tools independent of
language and culture that can be instantly used by anyone, regardless of location or national origin.
Collaboration Technology, Teleconferencing, Telecontrol, Telepresence
As jobs and factories are distributed around the globe, real-time information technology will be the most effective means of collaboration. Tools will have to be developed that allow for effective remote interaction. Collaboration technologies will require models of the dynamics of human interactions that can simulate behaviors, characteristics, and appearances to simulate physical presence. Behavioral and social scientists who can ease the transition to virtual space will be essential members of development teams.
Natural Language Processing
Advances in education and collaboration technology will require communication tools with instantaneous translation capabilities that can go from language to language, even dialect to dialect, in written and oral communications. In some ways this technology could be considered an extrapolation of current trends, but implementation on a global scale will be difficult and complex and will require major technological advances.
Data and Information Filters and Agents
The sheer volume of information—including disinformation, garbage information, redundant information, wrong information, and useless information—will make data searching, filtering, and archiving indispensable. Intelligent agents, active knowledge filters tailored to individuals, and knowledge structuring tools will be needed to prevent "information overload."
Manufacturing enterprises of the future will be dependent on complete and accurate information. They will need efficient and foolproof security systems to protect data, information, and knowledge, which will be the lifeblood of the industrial enterprise, from theft, acts of malevolence, accidents, misuse, and ignorance. A loss of security could have catastrophic consequences. The greater the volume of information and data, the greater the challenge will be to protect it.
Artificial Intelligence and Decision-Making Systems
Artificial intelligence and decision support systems will manage the selection of data and information, as well as system security. Artificial intelligence,
including expert systems, object oriented technology, intelligent agents, multimedia systems, voice recognition systems, and neural nets, has already made significant inroads into manufacturing technology and has the potential to make continued advances in the very near term. But the challenges of the future will make these real successes seem insignificant. Future systems will have to handle huge image bases in a variety of languages where small nuances could make big differences and where even small differences could become catastrophic.
Automatic Sensors and Actuators for Process and Equipment Control
As manufacturing enterprises become more and more automated, processes and equipment will have to be tightly controlled to ensure high quality, low cost output with minimum waste. Manufacturing enterprises will rely more and more on automatic and multifunctional sensors and intelligent controls on the process and enterprise levels (NRC, 1998). The design, manufacture, optimization, and effective deployment of these systems will be critical to process industries in the next century.
Integrated Modeling and Simulation
Validated and integrated enterprise models based on up-to-date information from distributed databases will enable people at all levels of an enterprise to make better and faster decisions. Models applicable to all levels of the manufacturing hierarchy, including equipment and process design, operations, distribution, service, and logistics, will be dynamically linked so the ripple effects of decisions will be available to other decision makers.
Intelligent models will mean significant savings of time and resources for manufacturing enterprises. These models will require improvements in computer and communication technologies, including visualization technology, computational speed, communications speed, and user interfaces.
Grand Challenge 4: Environmental Compatibility
Grand Challenge 4 is to reduce production waste and product environmental impact to "near zero." The goal of manufacturing enterprises will be to develop cost-effective, competitive products and processes that do not harm the environment, use as much recycled material for feedstock as possible, and create no significant waste, in terms of energy, material, or human resources. Access to, and a working knowledge of, the global database on environmentally harmful materials will be a key element in meeting this challenge.
The world population has been projected to grow from 5.6 billion today to 8 billion in 2020 (NRC, 1996). The global ecosystem will be severely strained by this growth in population and the continued development of regions that currently
have relatively low-technology economies, threatening the availability of resources and increasing waste.
The changes in environmental technology and environmental goals listed below were identified in a recent report by the National Research Council (NRC, 1996):
- the prevalence of incentive-based approaches to environmental regulation (instead of the command-and-control approaches used today)
- improvements in the measurement and monitoring of environmental quality to increase the understanding of ecological systems
- the reduction of adverse effects from chemicals in the environment
- the development of options for, and an assessment of the environmental impacts of, alternative energy sources
- the utilization of systems engineering and ecological approaches to reduce resource use
- a better understanding of the relationship between population and consumption as a means of reducing the environmental impact of population growth
- the establishment of environmental goals based on rates and direction of change rather than on specific targets
Future manufacturing industries will have a competitive advantage if they participate proactively in the assessment of environmental impacts, the establishment of environmental goals, and the development of technology to meet environmental goals.
National, regional, and local governments are establishing standards that approach ''near zero" pollutants in the environment. Manufacturing enterprises currently take one of three principal approaches to environmental management: remediation, compliance, or industrial ecology (Sheng and Allenby, 1997). Remediation is a command-and-control approach that involves treating wastes already in the environmental to lessen their adverse effects. Compliance is also a command-and-control approach that involves government agencies establishing environmental standards for industry. Once industry has complied with a standard, the government often "raises the bar." Industrial ecology, or designing for the environment, is a strategic approach that involves preventing and minimizing environmental impacts over the entire product life cycle, from resource extraction to disposal (including recycling and reuse). More and more manufacturing industries are choosing industrial ecology as their approach of choice.
Current thinking about environmental compatibility is being driven by several trends, including emerging standards for managing product life cycles (e.g., ISO 14000), growing customer demand for "green" products, product take-back
initiatives, and the internalization of all of the costs of waste disposal and abatement (Sheng and Allenby, 1997).
Consumers are becoming more aware of the environmental effects of the products they buy. In some cases, governments provide incentives for making environmentally conscious choices. Responsible environmental stewardship is becoming an increasingly astute business decision. Manufacturing enterprises with an environmentally friendly attitude have a competitive advantage in the more efficient use of resources through the recovery and reuse of process waste, increased use of recycled feedstocks, and more efficient processes that minimize waste generation.
Manufacturers can identify and develop process technologies that will dramatically improve their use of energy, human resources, and materials. Manufacturing enterprises will face two principal environmental challenges. The first challenge is closing the gap between the current understanding of environmental impacts and technologies intended to reduce waste and control pollution and the understanding needed to meet future environmental goals. The second challenge is changing the spirit of the manufacturing enterprise to incorporate cooperation, proactivity, teamwork, and global partnering with governments, academia, allied and competitive manufacturing enterprises, and communities to reach environmental goals.
Modeling and Risk Assessment
A key challenge to manufacturing firms and to environmental regulators will be to provide a reliable base of environmental knowledge. The knowledge base will include accurate models of the effects of processes and materials on long-term environmental quality, quantification and comparisons of risks to the environment, and cost/benefit analyses that evaluate environmental choices or regulatory actions. The goal will be to create an inventory of environmental design criteria that includes assessments of impact that are universally accepted. The technology and credibility of environmental assessments will have to be greatly improved in terms of accuracy and credibility before regulators and manufacturers can establish common environmental goals.
Manufacturing Processes with Near-Zero Waste
Waste-free manufacturing will require design methods that consider the total life cycle of a product. Environmentally conscious manufacturers will evaluate waste production and recycling in each step of the conversion process, considering all process waste and by-products as "raw material" for other processes.
Environmental management will take advantage of advances in distributed information technologies. Innovative process technologies, such as net-shape processing, bioprocessing, and molecular self-assembly, could produce products with unique properties and characteristics and generate very little waste.
Reduced Energy Consumption
Processes optimized for near-zero waste often also require less energy. Ideally, the efficiency of mechanical energy and process heat will be maximized and the lost energy recycled, converted, or transferred to supplement the energy requirement. Particular attention should be directed toward recovering the immense amount of heat energy lost from metal processing furnaces, welding processes, coolants, transformers, compressors, condensers, and distillation columns.
Environmentally Aware Manufacturing Enterprises
A proactive approach to environmental compatibility will require changes in the "ethical spirit" of manufacturing enterprises. Industry regulators today tend to mistrust industry, particularly large enterprises. For the past 30 years, enterprises have been faced with a myriad of proposed, and enacted, regulatory environmental standards that directly affect people, materials, energy usage, and manufacturing processes. As a result, many enterprises now operate in a reactive and confrontational mode. Industry's perception that regulations are not based on compelling scientific analysis has made many enterprises reluctant to cooperate. Because of broadening responsibility of manufacturing enterprises for the global environmental impact of the products they produce, competitive enterprises in 2020 will have to cooperate closely with international environmental policy makers. Environmental goals and new process technologies that minimize deleterious environmental effects over the entire product life cycle must be developed with the consensus of all stakeholders and based on robust materials models and databases, assessments of environmental impact, and comprehensive risk assessments and cost/benefit analyses. A cooperative, collaborative atmosphere would encourage proactive industrial participation and the development of environmentally compatible processes.
Grand Challenge 5: Reconfigurable Enterprises
A significant challenge in the year 2020 will be the ability of an organization to form complex alliances with other organizations very rapidly. Grand Challenge 5 is to reconfigure manufacturing enterprises rapidly in response to changing needs and opportunities. Reconfiguration could involve multiple organizations, a single organization, or the production/process floor of a single organization. The driving factors for reconfigurable enterprises are rapidly
changing customer needs; rapidly changing market opportunities; and developments in process, product, and electronic communications technology.
The ability of individuals and organizations to form complex collaborative alliances with other organizations will be a significant challenge. These relationships will have to be established and dissolved quickly to meet the challenges of increased access to (and demands of) less developed economies, rapidly changing markets, and expected advances in electronic communications. The challenge will be intensified by organizations having to cooperate and compete, simultaneously, with their "alliance" partners. Organizations will not be able to change their core competencies fast enough to take advantage of meaningful opportunities, so they will have to form alliances. Even multinational corporations will have to enter into alliances to take advantage of global opportunities. Rapid reconfiguration at the level of a single organization will require new organizational structures and employee relationships, as well as much greater flexibility and integration of activities.
Enterprises in 2020 and beyond will be characterized by capabilities and practices in the following areas:
- intraorganizational and interorganizational structures based on flexible, transient cooperation models
- enterprises focused on market opportunities rather than self-preservation and growth
- sharing of information and technology among competitors
- resolution of issues related to worldwide patents and other intellectual property rights
- equitable sharing of the rewards of collaboration
- incorporation of activity-based or knowledge-based values into transactions
- value-based relationships and value-based cost estimates
- well integrated, seamless supply chains
- cross-cultural systems of information management, representation, and communication
Many exemplary current partnerships and alliances can attest to the challenge of developing long-lasting relationships based on trust and mutual benefit. Alliances today are not formed and dissolved quickly, although many organizations have successfully addressed the challenges posed by multiple cultures, different organizational technologies, different strategic priorities, different organizational structures and processes, and long histories of competition with one another. However, these barriers were not overcome quickly.
Increasingly, enterprises are adopting methods of measuring performance
that account for intangible enterprise goals. One method, the "balanced scorecard" (Kaplan and Norton, 1996), supplements financial measures, such as return-on-capital and economic value added, with metrics that measure value to the customer, enhanced internal business processes, and employee learning and growth. A number of organizations have been able to restructure themselves in nontraditional ways and have made significant changes in their reward, performance management, and information systems to increase their flexibility and responsiveness. These changes have often been made at enormous expense.
Enabling technologies for reconfiguring enterprises include legal instruments, such as model agreements and contracts; models of qualitative socioeconomic factors; organizational and workforce relationships; and information technologies (computer applications and communications).
Software technologies can be grouped in an integrated software platform to support a common plan from conception to operation and include: standard terms to describe alliances; enterprise-wide system modeling; simulation modules that encompass legal, qualitative socioeconomic factors, and organizational and workforce relationships; and tools for theoretical analyses. The integrated software platform will guide the alliance through various stages from conception to fruition and provide both a shared medium for planning and a means for each participant to simulate the potential effects of decisions. Communications technologies will include uniform standards for exchanging manufacturing information, simple mechanisms for teleconferencing, and network protocols specific to the needs of the manufacturing alliance.
Forming and dissolving teams within a single organization is not very different from forming and dissolving alliances and will result in similar problems. Organizations would benefit from team theory (participants share common goals) more than game theory (participants have different and possibly conflicting objectives). Teams within a single organization will tend to focus on a single product or family of products and will require modeling, design, and simulation capabilities.
Reconfiguration of Manufacturing Operations
The production of diverse, customized products will require the rapid reconfiguration of manufacturing operations, with the following capabilities:
- systems models for all operations
- fundamental understanding of manufacturing processes
- synthesis and architecture technologies for converting information into knowledge
- unified communication methods and protocols for the exchange of information
- machine/user interfaces that enhance human performance
- adaptable and reconfigurable manufacturing processes and systems (e.g., biosynthetic processes and net-shape, programmable, flexible forming processes that do not require hard tooling)
- sensor technology for precision process control
Reconfiguration of manufacturing operations will involve different concepts and technologies than reconfiguration of enterprises or organizations. Here, the goal is to enable adaptation of manufacturing operations to make quick changes in the product or even to make different products. The realization of a reconfigurable factory requires tools that can combine basic operations in flexible ways to produce a set of processes, similar to the way linguistic primitives are combined using a flexible syntax to produce a rich variety of programs in a language. The degree of reconfigurability that can be achieved in this way far exceeds the degree of reconfigurability achieved by rearranging equipment.
The linguistic paradigm is well supported by a number of technology areas that are currently under active development. These include rapid prototyping tools, for both software and hardware; net-shape, programmable, flexible forming processes; cluster tools; and science-based process modeling. Software technologies, such as language design and compiler optimization, object-oriented and distributed databases, and virtual reality, would also yield great benefits if they were focused on the manufacturing context.
Grand Challenge 6: Innovative Processes
The most significant advances in manufacturing in the past 25 years have been largely driven by information technology, computer tools, automation, and advanced work practices. However, the unit processes that transform materials into products have advanced only incrementally. Advances in the control of processes and microstructures at submicron scales and the analysis and unlocking of the chemical and biological secrets of nature will have an overwhelming effect on the future understanding of processes and chemical makeup. This will lead to new and exciting ways to manufacture, clone, grow, and fabricate a vast array of products. Grand Challenge 6 is to develop innovative manufacturing processes and products with a focus on decreasing dimensional scale. The challenge is to apply totally new concepts to manufacturing unit operations that will lead to dramatic changes in production capabilities. Significant advancements will be made
possible by designing and processing products at smaller and smaller scales, ultimately at molecular and atomic levels. The need for these revolutionary processes will be driven by the competitive realities in 2020, when the primary differences between manufacturing enterprises will be their ability to create and produce new products rapidly to meet the high expectations and constantly changing demands of customers.
In the world of 2020, revolutionary unit operations will lead to dramatic new capabilities in the following ways:
- The integration of multiple unit processes into a single operation will significantly reduce capital investment, inspection time, handling, and processing time (NRC, 1992). Theoretically, a single machine could produce an entire product.
- Processes that are completely programmable and do not require hard tooling will enable the customization of products and rapid switching from one product to another.
- The creation of self-directed processes will simplify tooling and programming requirements and provide greater operational flexibility.
- Manipulation at the molecular or atomic level will lead to the creation of new materials, eliminate separate joining and assembly operations, and allow material composition to be varied throughout a single part.
Development of these innovative processes would enable the manufacture of new products, such as biological computers with molecular-sized components, molecular-sized surgical tools that could operate at the molecular or cellular level, efficient and inexpensive solar energy collectors, and new materials with significantly improved and tailorable properties.
The underlying principles of current unit manufacturing processes have not changed in the past 25 years, which has limited advances in manufacturing capabilities. Mechanical or structural parts and products still require that processes be partitioned by function—material formulation, shaping, joining, assembly, and finishing. For the most part, processes across these functional categories are not integrated. Generally, each operation requires hard tooling and consequently has limited flexibility. Processes also vary widely in scale. The finest level in routine production is about 25 mm. In electronics, significant improvements in product performance have been made as a result of the ability to manufacture chips with higher and higher densities. Although the advances have been staggering, with current feature sizes at 250 nm (0.25 mm), they have been evolutionary. The basic processes have not changed fundamentally—mask production, deposition, and etching. The major focus of technology development today is concerned with the radiation used in lithography to allow finer and finer features.
By 2020, revolutionary processes and capabilities will be based on technologies that are still in their infancy. One promising technology is direct materials deposition similar to the processes used for rapid prototyping. Although great strides are being made, this technology is used only for prototypes, not production parts. Using direct deposition processes for production parts will require two major breakthroughs: (1) the ability to use the processes with materials used in production parts, and (2) a significant increase in process speed.
Two technologies that could lead to the development of revolutionary processes are nanotechnology and biotechnology. Both of these will require major breakthroughs before they will be practical for manufacturing.
Nanotechnology would enable the development of new structures based on the precise control of materials architecture at the molecular or atomic level, tailored or functionally gradient structures with unique properties, and efficient and environmentally friendly processing. Molecular assembly methods will be required to enable nanoscale organization (NRC, 1994).
Nanofabrication technology includes the following types of processes:
- nanomachining (in the 0.1 to 100 nm range) to create nanoscale structures by adding or removing material from macroscale components
- molecular manufacturing to build systems from the atomic or molecular level (Nelson and Shipbaugh, 1995)
Biological manufacturing processes take place under ambient conditions and generate very little waste. Biological systems are amazingly adept at exerting precise control over molecular synthesis and assembly processes to produce a wide range of components from a limited number of constituent materials. Some bioprocesses that could lead to revolutionary advances in manufacturing are listed below (NRC, 1994):
- biosynthetic pathways to genetically engineered protein polymers
- biological surfactant-based self-assembly processes that are effective in the 1 nm to 1,000 nm range
- methods of coupling synthesis and self-assembly processes to produce oriented and functionally-graded structures
- cell seeding and tissue engineering to enable in vitro production of skin and membranes
- biomineralization processes, including vesicle-mediated multicomponent processing
Process innovations in all aspects of manufacturing are likely to be incremental. However, breakthrough technologies in specific business sectors will also drive changes in ways that are difficult to predict. In nanotechnology and biotechnology, advances in basic sciences have provided the foundations for visions of "leapfrog" innovations. It is not a question of whether or not these technologies will have a significant effect on manufacturing, but rather when and how the effects will be felt.