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What is Advanced Manufacturing?

It’s a fair question! While it is not a new term, we thought it was worth revisiting how the experts define it – and what it means to us.

subs-image1-2The AAMC definition, posted on this site two years ago, is still relevant. We’ve adopted a broad understanding of the term, emphasising that an advanced manufacturer tends to be globally competitive, constantly innovating, and is often involved from the design and technology development phase of a product through to its branding and marketing.

Manufacturers’ Monthly asked several experts what they thought it meant, and had a variety of responses.

Here are a few:

Dr Rodney Brooks, founder, chairman and CTO, Rethink Robotics

“What I’m doing in my company, Rethink Robotics, is putting robots into factories. So certainly manufacturing is what we do. These are somewhat different from traditional industrial robots in that they’re safe to be next to: they’re collaborative. Instead of programming the robot you show it the task and train it. And it’s got some intelligence built into it. I view that as advanced manufacturing, in terms of advanced technology used for manufacturing.

“Some people use advanced manufacturing to mean weird materials, advanced materials. I think of it in terms of using advanced technology to make manufacturing simpler.”

John Pollaers, Chairman, Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council

It’s about globalisation and innovation.

The concept or term ‘advanced manufacturing’ is necessary to distinguish the older industrial model from the kind of manufacturing where Australia can, and already is, triumphing.

We define advanced manufacturers as globally-oriented and innovative manufacturers, in general sharing the following characteristics: high Intellectual Property component; dependent on global supply chains; the only public sector support needed is at the Research & Development phase through tax credits or leveraging public/private partnerships. Advanced manufacturers tend to be engaged in collaborations with universities, the CSIRO and other research institutes, and they sell to a global market on distinctive qualities. For them the domestic market is not a constraint.

Advanced manufacturers are involved in the development of new markets, new products, new technologies and new ways to manufacture existing products.

Advanced manufacturing is about both the product and the process.

Jeff Connolly, CEO, Siemens Australia, and Chair of the PM’s Industry 4.0 Taskforce

Australian manufacturers have the opportunity right now to help shape and create the strong economy that we all want – by embracing current technologies and getting on the journey to Industry 4.0 (the fourth industrial revolution).

It’s clear that technologies such as 3D printing, advanced robotics, the cloud, and other automation and digitalisation advances are developing rapidly and that each delivers value to the world. However, what is clearer to me is the value in harnessing these technologies together in an integrated and digitalised approach. What we’re already seeing today and will see even more in the future,

[is that] the companies who thrive will be the ones who leverage the collective attributes of these technologies in the development of their business processes.  Read more from Jeff Connolly here.

Alan Finkel, Australia’s Chief Scientist

If we are smart about aligning our research to our priorities, there will be ample opportunity for us to develop advanced manufacturing techniques to create, or in some cases, bring back added-value manufacturing in food and resources, and expand our achievements in medical devices … But measuring our success in manufacturing will be confounded by its changing nature. 

For example, printing and distributing text books is clearly a manufacturing industry. In the future, when textbooks fully transition to online delivery, will that mean that the manufacturing jobs in that sector have been wiped out? Or should we think of the engineers who develop and maintain the cloud-based delivery systems as the manufacturing workers of the future? We must learn to value our successes in the context of a changing definition of what we are measuring.  Read more from The Conversation here.

Read more in the ManMonthly.

2018-01-09T11:59:08+11:00 September 20th, 2016|