Preparing for 2020
Manufacturing in 2020 will be exciting, dynamic, and competitive. With the emergence of billions of new consumers into the "developed" world, the emphasis on education, the pressure to raise or maintain living standards while consuming fewer resources, and the global availability of knowledge, manufacturers will have unprecedented market opportunities but will also be subject to unprecedented competitive pressures. Chapter 2 identifies six grand challenges that manufacturers will have to meet to thrive under these conditions and outlines technical opportunities for meeting them. Chapter 3 describes 10 priority technology areas for addressing the grand challenges and outlines research opportunities related to the priority technology areas. The committee recommends that long-term manufacturing research focus on developing capabilities in the priority technology areas to meet the grand challenges.
This chapter highlights the committee's general findings:
- Many of the areas for research are crosscutting areas, that is, they are applicable to several of the priority technologies identified in Chapter 3.
- Two important breakthrough technologies—submicron manufacturing and simulation and modeling—will accelerate progress in addressing the grand challenges.
- Substantial research is already under way outside of the manufacturing sector that could be focused on manufacturing applications.
- Progress toward the goals recommended in the Next Generation Manufacturing study (NGM, 1997) on the needs of the next decade will also contribute to meeting the longer-term grand challenges for 2020.
- Because manufacturing is inherently multidisciplinary and involves a complicated mix of people, systems, processes, and equipment, the most effective research will also be multidisciplinary and grounded in knowledge of manufacturing strategies, planning, and operations.
The committee's findings and recommendations are described in more detail below.
Table 3-2, which relates the priority technologies to the grand challenges, shows that the development of the priority technologies will affect several of the grand challenges. Many of the research areas described briefly in Chapter 3 can potentially contribute to the development of more than one priority technology. This has both advantages, in that research resources can be used more efficiently, and disadvantages, in that results may not necessarily apply to all of the priority technologies.
The following examples illustrate how research could be applicable to more than one technology. First, the development of adaptive, reconfigurable equipment, processes, and systems will enable the rapid reconfiguration of enterprises to meet competitive pressures but will also improve the integration of human and technology resources, enterprise-wide concurrency, and the development of revolutionary processes. Second, research on modeling and simulation will help meet the challenges for enterprise-wide concurrency, the utilization of human and technological resources, the conversion of information to knowledge, and the rapid reconfiguration of manufacturing enterprises. Finally, research on information technology will help to meet all of the grand challenges. Information technology is the primary technology for converting information to knowledge and will be a key technology for concurrency, the integration of human and technical resources, and the rapid reconfiguration of enterprises.
Recommendation. Establish priorities for long-term research with an emphasis on crosscutting technologies, i.e., technologies that address more than one grand challenge. Adaptable and reconfigurable manufacturing systems, information and communication technologies, and modeling and simulation are three research areas that address several grand challenges.
The committee believes that technological breakthroughs in two areas—innovative submicron manufacturing processes and enterprise modeling and simulation—would have a profound impact on manufacturing of the future.
Submicron manufacturing promises to provide economic solutions to meeting increasingly demanding customer needs and, at the same time, decreasing time to market, energy consumption, and environmental costs. Manufacturing at the submicron level has four important aspects—evolutionary advances in (1) miniaturization and (2) microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), as well as revolutionary advances in (3) nanofabrication and (4) biotechnology.
There has been a steady trend toward miniaturizing manufactured components. A good example is the progression from vacuum tubes and discrete transistors to the very dense integrated circuits manufactured today. Integrated circuits contain structures, produced in layers using photolithographic processes, with features on the order of a micron or less in size. For compelling economic reasons, the semiconductor industry continues to reduce the dimensions of integrated circuits. The proliferation of more and more powerful, but smaller and smaller, intelligent systems will lead to advances that will be crucial for meeting several of the grand challenges for manufacturing in 2020.
MEMS use sensors, actuators, and other electromechanical structures with dimensions on the order of microns (NRC, 1997). Like integrated circuits, MEMS are produced using the batch-processing capabilities of semiconductor processing. In fact, MEMS can be part of integrated circuits that combine machine intelligence with electromechanical action.
The ultimate in submicron manufacturing is nanofabrication, specifically molecular nanotechnology (MNT), in which individual atoms and molecules are manipulated to form materials and structures. The consensus among MNT researchers is that, in principle, a wide range of molecular structures can be produced cost effectively. MNT could enable the production of new materials with specific properties tailored for given applications, properties that could be varied as structures are built up to produce functionally gradient materials. In addition, materials and structures with dramatically improved properties could be produced with no waste. Costs for self-replicating materials manufactured by MNT could be reduced to competitive levels by 2020. If costs are competitive, MNT will have far-reaching implications for waste-free manufacturing of very light weight, strong microstructures and macrostructures.
One important form of self-replication at the molecular level that occurs naturally is controlled by DNA and cellular processes. Biotechnology has already progressed to the point that genes can be manipulated. By 2020, a substantial technology will have been developed for the production of biological materials, the replication of biological materials, and the formation of structures from biological materials. The interrelationship between bioprocessing and MNT could lead to the production of hybrid structures that combine DNA and machine intelligence with biological and nonbiological materials.
Modeling and Simulation of Manufacturing Systems
Meeting the grand challenges of concurrency in all operations (grand challenge 1) and rapid reconfiguration of manufacturing enterprises (grand challenge 5)—which include enterprise strategy, planning, and operations at one extreme and manufacturing cell operations at the other—will depend on accurate predictions and timely decisions based on modeling and simulation to develop virtual prototypes. Manufacturing systems in 2020 will be complicated, dynamic amalgams of human and machine intelligence, knowledge, materials, equipment, and processes. Operational decisions made at relatively low levels in the enterprise may have enterprise-wide consequences.
Two crucial elements are necessary for successful manufacturing systems models and simulations—a comprehensive set of models and human-machine interfaces that enable individuals to interact with the models for learning, planning, and manufacturing control. The semantics of manufacturing that encompasses all enterprise operations and functions within a globally distributed real (or virtual) manufacturing enterprise must be consistent across all levels, operations, and functions of the enterprise. Ideally, the semantics would support global multi-objective optimization of the enterprise and its operations; that is, it would be robust enough to be the basis for a theory of manufacturing and adaptable enough to support change.
Individuals will be critical components of any manufacturing system. Models and simulations must account for individuals from two points of view. First, the behavior and actions of individuals, as part of a manufacturing system, must be included in the models. This implies an understanding of how individuals relate to each other within the system, as well as an understanding of how individuals relate to equipment and processes (which may or may not be automated). Second, models and simulations must be described and delivered in a usable form to facilitate the decision or action that must be taken.
Including human behavior, with all of its vagaries of learning and communication styles and overtones of culture and language, will make modeling and simulation difficult. However, unless the human factor is included, the representation will be unrealistic.
Recommendation. Establish basic research focused on breakthrough technologies, including innovative submicron manufacturing processes and enterprise modeling and simulation. Focus basic research on the development of a scientific base for production processes and systems that support new generations of innovative products.
Taking Advantage of "Driver" Technologies
Some of the technology areas for meeting the grand challenges are being developed for other purposes. For example, information is a core technology that
is applicable to grand challenges for concurrency in all operations (grand challenge 1), integration of human and technical resources (grand challenge 2), transformation of information into knowledge (grand challenge 3), and rapid reconfiguration of manufacturing enterprises (grand challenge 5). A very significant investment in the development of information technology is already being made to meet the needs of other sectors of the economy and will eventually lead to global systems that are interoperable at the level of communications systems and operating systems and that will enable advanced human-machine interfaces with auditory, visual, and tactile capabilities. However, information technologies that enable seamless, collaborative systems may not be useful for manufacturing without a further determination of how people, machines, and information technology can work together beneficially in manufacturing systems. Individuals in a specific linguistic and cultural situation must be able to communicate using the medium of information technology with machines, complicated manufacturing systems, and people in different linguistic and cultural situations.
Recommendation. Monitor research and development on technologies with significant investment from outside the manufacturing sector and undertake research and development, as necessary, to adapt them for manufacturing applications. Some applicable technologies are listed below:
- information technology that can be adapted and incorporated into collaboration systems and models through manufacturing-specific research and development focused on improving methods for people to make decisions, individually and as part of a group
- core technologies, including materials science, energy conservation, and environmental protection technologies
Building on Next-Generation Manufacturing
The Next Generation Manufacturing Project was a national, industry-led project conducted in 1995–1996. Nearly 500 people, mostly managers and technical experts from manufacturing companies, participated (NGM, 1997). The objectives of the project were (1) to develop a broadly accepted model of future manufacturing enterprises ("future" was defined as the next decade) and (2) to recommend actions that manufacturers, working individually and in partnership with government, industry, and the academic community, could take to attain "world-class" status.
The Next Generation Manufacturing Project defined a typical manufacturing company of the next decade and developed a framework for actions that would make U.S. companies globally competitive between now and 2010. Executives of leading companies first defined pragmatic dilemmas they face. Starting from this pragmatic base, they described key competitive drivers, identified the attributes
of a successful company, and characterized the capabilities, or imperatives , required for companies to thrive. The project also recommended steps companies could take to achieve these capabilities.
One important recommendation was that manufacturers develop technology road maps to identify research and development that would support the transition of present-day companies to next-generation companies. A project led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, called the Integrated Manufacturing Technology Roadmap Initiative, was established to address this recommendation in terms of information systems, modeling and simulation, manufacturing processes and equipment, and enterprise integration.
Most of the recommendations involved the development and implementation of new business practices and organizations or the application of existing technologies to advanced manufacturing. However, a few recommendations involved research and development. These recommendations are described below along with the committee's assessment of their applicability to manufacturing in 2020.
Develop Next-Generation Models and Assessment Capability
This recommendation focused on adapting existing models to develop an integrated reference set of multilevel models. These models would be used to facilitate the participation of companies in extended enterprises, to facilitate the transition of present-day companies into next-generation companies, and to educate company personnel. A complementary recommendation focused on tools for assessing a company's capabilities.
Operations Modeling and Simulation workshops were held at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to follow up on this recommendation. The committee expects that the evolutionary advances in this area will be a valuable subset of the models and simulations that will be required in 2020 to support enterprise-wide concurrency. But revolutionary advances in communication standards and protocols, human-machine interfaces, and models and simulations that include human and organizational behavior will also be necessary for manufacturing to realize the 2020 vision of enterprise modeling and simulation.
Develop Systematic Processes for Capturing Knowledge and for Knowledge-Based Manufacturing
The goal of this NGM recommendation was the development of a usable repository of manufacturing knowledge that could be an easily accessible core for a knowledge base. The processes for capturing knowledge would conform to a consistent set of rules applicable across the entire product life cycle. People applying the knowledge would also be guided by consistent rules, possibly incorporated into automated systems.
The research necessary for fulfilling this recommendation could result in
knowledge acquisition and delivery systems that could become the foundation for the committee's recommended research on converting information into knowledge and developing knowledge systems for rapidly reconfigurable processes and equipment in 2020.
Enable and Promote the Use of Modeling and Simulation
The goal of this recommendation was to advance the state of the art by establishing standards for the verification, validation, and accreditation of modeling tools and models (including geometric models, behavioral models, process models, and cost and performance models).
The direction for next-generation manufacturing was consistent with the goals for models and simulations in 2020. Fulfillment of this recommendation would provide fundamental building blocks for the dynamic models and "realtime" simulations of 2020. But, as described above, additional advances in communications, human-machine interfaces, and consideration of human and organizational behavior will be necessary to realize the 2020 vision of enterprise modeling and simulation.
Develop Intelligent Processes and Flexible Manufacturing Systems
The goal of this NGM recommendation was the development and establishment of a methodology for introducing intelligent processing into manufacturing systems. Intelligent processing would reduce the programming burden when product requirements, processes, and factory configurations must be changed. Intelligent processing systems would be able to adapt automatically or semi-automatically. Fulfillment of this recommendation would provide building blocks for the rapidly reconfigurable manufacturing enterprises of 2020.
The committee believes that research related to manufacturing enterprises is inherently interdisciplinary and that the development of the priority technology areas for 2020 manufacturing will require an unprecedented commitment to multidisciplinary and collaborative research. The grand challenges, which reflect real-world complexities, are not amenable to single-discipline solutions. The working relationships between the physical science and engineering disciplines that have emerged in recent decades will have to be expanded to include mathematics, economics, enterprise management, computer science, philosophy, biology, psychology, cognitive science, and anthropology.
The manufacturing industry will have to (1) identify current real problems and forecast the problems enterprises will face in the future and (2) articulate these problems in terms that are accessible by academic and research organizations.
At the same time, the academic and research community will have to (1) facilitate the formation of integrated teams and (2) articulate the technical results of research in terms that are accessible by industry leaders.
Recommendation. Establish an interdisciplinary research and development program that emphasizes multi-investigator consortia both within institutions and across institutional boundaries. Establish links between research communities in the important disciplines required to address the grand challenges, including all branches of engineering, mathematics, physics, chemistry, economics, management science, computer science, philosophy, biology, psychology, cognitive science, and anthropology.
Recommendation. Industry and government should focus interdisciplinary research and development on the priority technology areas. Some key considerations for the long-term are listed below:
- understanding the effect of human psychology and social sciences on decision-making processes in the design, planning, and operation of manufacturing processes
- managing and using information to make intelligent decisions among a vast array of alternatives
- adapting and reconfiguring manufacturing processes rapidly for the production of diverse, customized products
- adapting and reconfiguring manufacturing enterprises to enable the formation of complex alliances with other organizations
- developing concurrent engineering tools that facilitate cross-disciplinary and enterprise-wide involvement in the conceptualization, design, and production of products and services to reduce time-to-market and improve quality
- developing educational and training technologies based on learning theory and the cognitive and linguistic sciences to enhance interactive distance learning
- optimizing the use of human intelligence to complement the application and implementation of new technology
- understanding the effects of new technologies on the manufacturing workforce, the work environment, and the surrounding community
- developing business and engineering tools that are transparent to differences in skills, education, status, language, and culture to bridge international and organizational boundaries
One of the key factors in meeting the grand challenges will be monitoring the progress of technology development. The committee believes a detailed research
agenda and timetable based on the grand challenges and priority technology areas for manufacturing in 2020 should be developed. However, detailed research agendas or timetables were beyond the scope of this study. Research road maps that could be used to monitor progress toward realization of the vision of manufacturing in 2020 should be established in follow-up technology seminars with focus groups exploring the priority technologies and potential research areas. Rather than trying to anticipate the advancements for a twenty-year period, the committee recommends that general long-term goals be established in each technology area and that detailed road maps be established for five-year ''windows of commitment." This approach, similar to the approach of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, would provide a reasonable time frame for technology incubation, with yearly reviews to monitor progress. At the end of the five-year period, goals and programs would be re-examined for the next five-year period. This approach would allow research efforts to be adapted to revolutionary advances and for unfruitful research directions to be reconsidered.