THE CHANGING FACE OF MANUFACTURING
Cambridge dictionary defines manufacturing thus: The process of producing goods in large numbers.
Oxford dictionary’s interpretation is: The process of producing goods in large numbers.
These definitions are narrow, and are out of sync with time. These ‘traditional’ definitions of manufacturing can no longer be applied to manufacturing anymore.
Manufacturing no longer stands for just ‘making things’. Its definition today entails the entire product lifecycle process from concept to decommissioning/repurposing. The manufacturing process involves a number of stages such as concept development, concept to solution, detailed design, design substantiation, fabrication, machining, assembly, 3D printing, systems integration, testing, deployment, maintenance and decommissioning/repurposing.
Moreover, the world of engineering is becoming increasingly connected and collaborative. The various engineering sub-systems such as mechanical, thermal, electrical, sensors and electronics, and software, talk to one another and work in harmony, resulting in a consistent, efficient and effective engineering system.
The increase in computing power, capability, and Internet based connectivity speeds have resulted in the popularity of Computer Aided Engineering and virtual proto-typing, where the entire development lifecycle of a product can be seen, altered, and finalised on a computer screen, even before the first component hits the shop floor.
So, given how much activity happens before components arrive at the shop floor, and how much happens once the product has been made, we can no longer look at manufacturing as simply ‘making things’. It entails a lot more than that; it stands for the entire lifecycle of a product.