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What is advanced manufacturing?


Advanced manufacturing is the use of innovative technologies and methodologies for improved competitiveness in the manufacturing sectors.

The aim of advanced manufacturing is to -

  • Enhance output
  • Increase:
    - added value
    - quality
    - responsiveness to market
    - flexibility
  • Reduce:
    - time to market
    - unit quantities
    - material content
    - material inventory
    - under utilised capital plant.

Traditional manufacturing is based on the use of dedicated plant and production lines with little or no flexibility. Advanced manufacturing involves versatile production methods that fully utilise capital plant and are more efficient, effective and responsive. Although there are circumstances where traditional, dedicated methods are still appropriate - such as long, predictable production runs - advanced manufacturing has the capacity to accommodate the varying production requirements and mass customisation commonly encountered by industry, without the need for excessive capital investment.

Advanced manufacturing encompasses all aspects of the value chain from concept to end-of-life considerations, and relies on information communication technology (ICT) to integrate the manufacturing and business activities into a seamless efficient operation.

The technologies involved in advanced manufacturing can be divided into three main groupings: efficient production, intelligent production and effective organisation.

Efficient production involves design, simulation, physical and computer modelling, advanced production technologies, and control techniques. The emphasis is on simultaneous rather than sequential engineering. Relevant production technologies include rapid prototyping, near net shape manufacture, and precision casting, machining and joining techniques.

Intelligent production involves the use of ICT in manufacturing and related logistics systems. As well as production orientated intelligent machines, cells and production lines, the philosophy involves implementing systems for the extended life and optimal use of production facilities through efficient monitoring, maintenance and repair strategies.

Effective organisation involves the efficient co-ordination and exploitation of manufacturing resources. This encompasses both physical resources and knowledge. Relevant topics include virtual tendering and enterprises, shared facilities and resources, novel organisations, incubation units, knowledge management and trading, and electronic commerce. Emphasis in this area is on the use of technology to enhance the involvement and capability of SMEs as well as large organisations.

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