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Page 1 Executive Summary A manufacturing business is devoted to the production of tangible objects that are high in quality and competitive in cost, meet customers' expectations for performance, and are delivered in a timely manner. Finding and achieving the appropriate balance among these attributesquality, cost, performance, and time to marketchallenge all manufacturing businesses. Those companies that are successful in meeting that challenge remain in business; those that are not usually disappear. In a manufacturing environment that is perhaps changing more rapidly now than during the Industrial Revolution, competing successfully will require that U.S. manufacturers increasingly provide customers with shorter times between order and delivery and between product conceptualization and realization, greater product customization, and higher product quality and performance, while meeting more stringent environmental constraints. Accomplishing these goals will require major changes in current manufacturing practices; such changes include the use of new and/or more complex manufacturing processes, greater use of information to reduce waste and defects, and more flexible manufacturing styles. This report outlines a broad research agenda for applying information technology (IT)1 to improving the manner in which discrete manufacturing processes will be carried out in the 21st century. These processes include the design of 1 IT includes the hardware that computes and communicates; the software that provides data, knowledge, and information while at the same time controlling the hardware; and the interfaces between computers and the tools and machines on the manufacturing shop floor.
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Page 2 products and processes (e.g., converting customer requirements and expectations into engineering specifications, converting specifications into subsystems), production (e.g., moving materials, converting or transforming material properties or shapes, assembling systems or subsystems, verifying process results), and manufacturing-related business practices (e.g., converting a customer order into a list of required parts, cost accounting, and documenting of all procedures). This report also discusses the need for non-technology research to better understand human resource and other non-technical aspects of manufacturing. The Potential Of Information Technology In Manufacturing An enormous amount of information is generated and used during the design, manufacture, and use of a product to satisfy customer needs and to meet environmental requirements. Thus it is reasonable to suppose that the use of information technology can enable substantial improvements in the operation, organization, and effectiveness of information-intensive manufacturing processes and activities, largely by facilitating their integration (Figure ES.1). Equipment and stations within factories, entire manufacturing enterprises, and networks of suppliers, partners, and customers located throughout the world can be more effectively connected and integrated through the use of information technology. Information technology can provide the tools to help enterprises achieve goals widely regarded as critical to the future of manufacturing, including: • Rapid shifts in production from one product to another; • Faster implementation of new concepts in products; • Faster delivery of products to customers; • More intimate and detailed interactions with customers; • Fuller utilization of capital and human resources; • Streamlining of operations to focus on essential business needs; and • Elimination of unnecessary, redundant, or wasteful activities. The development and implementation of new information technology to meet these goals will be shaped by organizational, managerial, and human resource concerns that have prevented manufacturers from exploiting fully even the technology that exists today. Sensitivity to these concerns will be essential to the successful development and implementation of the information technology associated with visions of manufacturing for the 21st century. Information technology can be used to meet a range of needs of manufacturing decision makers (Box ES.1). These needs suggest a research agenda with both technological and non-technological dimensions; the primary targets of this research agenda include:
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Page 3 FIGURE ES.1 Information technology as a means to integrate various basic manufacturing activities. • Operational control of factories and their suppliers, • Tools for product and process design, • Modeling and simulation of the entire spectrum of factory operations (virtual manufacturing), and • Enterprise integration and use of other capabilities provided by the evolving National Information Infrastructure to support 21st-century manufacturing. Other aspects of manufacturing, specifically physical processes, are not addressed in this report except as they relate to information technology's potential role in controlling them. Key Findings The key findings of this report are the following: Finding 1: Information technology has a major role to play in the manufacturing environment of the future. The information-intensive nature of manufacturing
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Page 4 Box ES.1 Need of Manufacturing Decision Makers and Examples of How Information Technology Could Contribute to Meeting Them Need Example of Information Technology's Contribution Situational awareness. Both white-collar and blue- collar personnel must be informed about events in the manufactuing environment. An unexpected event may be anything from the breakage of a tool or the delay of a shipment to a design change made to a product. To promote and enhance situational awareness, an IT- based factory information system could display the status of various tools and machines on the shop floor.
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Page 5 across all component activities will place ever-higher premiums on the faster, more accurate, and more useful presentation and analysis of the information streams associated with these activities. More, and more timely, information will be needed for decisions on the shop floor and in executive suites alike; information-intensive programmable processes and automated on-line control can improve product quality and manufacturing flexibility; greater integration among design, production, and marketing will lead to a greater need to share information. Only by judicious use of information technology will manufacturing personnel from chief executive officers to factory floor workers be able to assimilate and use these streams of information. At the same time, information technology is only one dimension of enhanced future manufacturing operations; other important dimensions range from a better understanding of basic science and engineering phenomena in various domains to insights into the organizations and institutions that will be the users of advanced information technology. Progress in these other dimensions is also needed. Finding 2: Current information technology is inadequate to support the manufacturing styles and practices that will be needed in the 21st century. Moreover, although individual demonstrations in particular manufacturing activities today hint at the potential impact of information technology, high degrees of integration have not yet been achieved. Open architectures and standards (currently absent) are needed to attain higher degrees of integration, because as the capabilities and applications of the National Information Infrastructure increase, the penalties associated with closed or proprietary manufacturing systems will only grow. Better information technology will also contribute to major improvements in product and process design and to more efficient and flexible shop floor operations, as well as to the planning and business capabilities of factory managers. Research on information technology in a manufacturing context is needed to enlarge the flexibility available in the future for manufacturing managers. Finding 3: Exploiting the full potential of information technology to improve manufacturing will require addressing many non-technological matters, as well as the technical areas. For very good reasons, manufacturing managers are cautious about the promises of information technology and concerned about underestimating the potential risks of investing in it; these managers will require information technology that meets their needs as they understand those needs. Questions of technological risk, work force adaptation, and organizational resistance cannot be dismissed; if information technology developments are to be viable and acceptable in the factory environment, such questions must be directly addressed and resolved. The potential benefits of improving manufacturing performance are enormousthey relate to the basic good health of the domestic and international economies. On the other hand, the risks are significant; the business landscape is littered with the hulks of companies for which the use of technology did not solve deeply rooted problems. This report seeks to identify research directions in
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Page 6 information technology that can help to support and sustain a vibrant U.S. manufacturing enterprise. Recommendations The committee's recommendations for research fall into two broad categories: those related specifically to increasing the sophistication with which it is possible to apply information technology to manufacturing needs (a technology research agenda) and those related specifically to increasing the likelihood that such technologies will indeed be used appropriately in future manufacturing endeavors (a non-technology research agenda). Given the charge of the committee to focus on a technology research agenda, recommendations related to the first category are emphasized. In many respects, however, the non-technological areas require more attention, since such areas are usually the most difficult in which to effect change. A Technology Research Agenda The ultimate goal of the information technology research agenda outlined in this report is to expand the envelope of technological options and capabilities for managers of 21st-century manufacturing businesses. But it is reasonable to separate research efforts that can have an incremental impact on actual manufacturing operations in the nearer future from those that may have a revolutionary impact in the farther future. Research that is likely to have an impact in the shorter term is most likely to benefit from awareness of social and organizational issues. With this perspective in mind, the research areas relevant to product and process design (Chapter 3) and shop floor production (Chapter 4) appear most promising in the nearer term. Factory modeling and simulation (Chapter 5) are farther-term, higher-payoff research areas. Nevertheless, it must be recognized that manufacturing is ''an indivisible, monolithic activity, incredibly diverse and complex in its fine detail … [whose] many parts are inextricably interdependent and interconnected, so that no part may be safely separated from the rest and treated in isolation, without an adverse impact on the remainder and thus on the whole."2 This fact largely precludes the identification of specific "silver bullets" out of which all other progress in the field would flow. Integrated Product and Process Design In the area of integrated product and process design, the following questions warrant attention: 2 Harrington, Joseph. 1984. Understanding the Manufacturing Process: Key to Successful CAD/CAM Implementation. M. Dekker, New York.
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Page 7 • How should the information associated with products be captured and represented? Issues relevant to this question include the representation of high-level functions for manufactured mechanical or electromechanical products, the creation of abstractions that contain the right amount of detail for their use at different points in the design process, formalisms for the representation of both domain-independent and domain-specific information, the interchangeability of product data models for use by different parts of the manufacturing operation (e.g., design, fabrication, test, maintenance, upgrade), and the relationships between high-level function abstractions and the physical reality of geometry and materials. • How can manufacturing processes be represented? Process description involves languages for description and models of specific manufacturing processes, both as they actually exist and as they might be improved. Languages will have to express in compact form not only nominal process behavior but also variant behavior. They should have features that support checking for correctness and completeness and should be translatable across technical domains. Models of specific processes must include the information necessary to support dynamic control of individual operations and to take local environmental conditions into account, and they must faithfully represent real manufacturing processes as they exist. • How should tools be constructed that support product design? An integral aspect of product design is how to make trade-offs (e.g., among cost, performance, and reliability; between alternate space allocations; between making or buying a component; between long-term operating costs and initial costs; and so on). Designers would benefit greatly from tools that would help them evaluate these trade-offs in a rigorous and systematic manner. Presentation and display tools for visualizing different design alternatives would also support the product designer. Finally, it will be essential to develop tools that support analysis of the "off-nominal" behaviors that result from manufacturing inaccuracies or deliberate variations introduced into a generic design. Shop Floor Production In the area of managing shop floor production, the following questions warrant attention: • How should shop floor tools be controlled? Machine controllers are the fundamental interface between a factory automation system and the fabrication or assembly tools themselves. Research is needed that will result in an
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Page 8 open architecture for machine controllers and in a good language for describing unit processing operations. • How should shop floor operations be scheduled? Effective real-time dynamic scheduling of shop floor operations is central to ensuring the efficient use of shop floor resources. Effective real-time scheduling requires continuous tracking of the status of jobs, work cells, tooling, and resources and should support reactive scheduling and control (e.g., rerouting work flows to compensate for a problem or exploiting fortuitous windows of opportunity in individual work cells). In addition, real-time schedulers must give human decision makers convenient and transparent access to relevant information and tools enabling them to make trade-off decisions regarding release, reordering, sequencing and batching, and other matters. Finally, new production planning and scheduling optimization techniques are needed. • How should sensors be integrated into the shop floor environment? Sensors provide accurate real-time information on what is happening on the shop floor and at individual work cells that is not available through other means. Such information is needed to guide unit processes as well as to provide status information and situational awareness at higher levels of authority (whether automated or human). The future manufacturing facility will use many different types of sensors, creating a requirement for a standardized control system into which sensors can be plugged with minimal bother. Reliable operation will also be at a premium. Factory Modeling and Simulation In the area of factory modeling and simulation, the following questions warrant investigation: • How can an individual production line be simulated? Although it will not be possible to fully simulate even a modest factory for many years, it may be possible to simulate individual production lines. Research in this area would build on the single-activity models already in use in manufacturing to integrate their functions and to provide a comprehensive overview of the production line. • How can virtual factory simulations by validated? A key question in any simulation is the extent to which it provides an accurate representation of reality. Simulations can be tweaked and otherwise forced to fit empirical data, but since the purpose of a factory simulation is to make reliable predictions about a factory operation for which there are no empirical data, managers will need strong assurances that a simulation's prediction of a new factory
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Page 9 configuration faithfully reflects what would actually occur. Research is needed to develop methods of validation that provide such confidence. • How is the complex and voluminous information associated with a factory best presented to users? User perspectives and needs are not homogeneous, yet the information presented to different users will all be derived from the same data sources, whether a factory model is operating in control mode or simulation mode. The visibility and transparency of activities to all relevant users across the enterprise are prerequisite to achieving effective control. • How can the consistency and accuracy of concurrently used models be guaranteed? A factory model is most likely to be some aggregation of smaller models, each built to represent or simulate or control some single factory activity. Ensuring that the assumptions underlying these models and the data streams driving them are consistent across the board will be a major challenge. • How should dynamic interactions among these interconnected and interrelated models be understood? As smaller models are aggregated into a large factory model, it is inevitable that they will interact with each other (since the processes and products they represent also interact with each other). Understanding the nature and scope of these interactions will be a major challenge with important implications for ensuring model fidelity and validation. Information Infrastructure to Support Enterprise Integration Electronic networks and related elements of information infrastructure are likely to be the means for achieving a relatively complete integration of the manufacturing enterprise, including activities within a given firm as well as activities undertaken by suppliers and customers outside the firm. The following questions suggest research areas relevant to enterprise integration: • What standards should support the passing of information between the various architectures and the interconnection of different systems within the manufacturing enterprise? Today, incompatible representations of knowledge and information are common in computer-aided design, computer-augmented process planning, and computer-aided manufacturing. These incompatibilities are major obstacles to enterprise-wide integration. • How can standards be made to accommodate some upgrade capability? In the absence of an upgrade capability, technology vendors worry about premature
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Page 10 freezing of technology and customers worry about intrinsic obsolescence. • How should real-time communications architectures be implemented? Robust real-time control systems for tools such as cutters will demand network architectures that can tolerate dropped messages or delayed message arrival. Thus research is needed to formulate the principles for construction and operation of networks that can support time-critical message delivery in a context of interconnecting, multipurpose networks. • What tools and capabilities are needed for human- and machine-based information and resource searching? These essential capabilities should become part of the underlying network service infrastructure in order to increase network performance and efficiency. A Non-technology Research Agenda The issues relevant to exploiting the full power of advanced information technologies go beyond traditional engineering research. Researchers in economics, organizational studies, and management science may contribute a great deal to understanding how manufacturing enterprises can actually make use of such technology. Non-technical problems are often exacerbated, for example, by the globalization of industry, in which the relationships with suppliers, customers, design centers, and factories are increasingly distributed over a wide band of cultures, time zones, and expertise. Those wishing to accelerate the adoption of advanced information technology for manufacturing must ensure that human, organizational, and societal factors are aligned so as to support its acceptance and maximize its benefits. Many mechanisms can facilitate such alignment, including sabbatical programs for industrialists and academics in each other's domain, teaching factories created to prepare future manufacturing specialists, and advanced technology demonstrations that illustrate the benefits of information technology for factory performance. In addition, considerable research in social science will be necessary to facilitate the large-scale introduction of information technology into manufacturing. New technologies generally require new social structures if those technologies are to be fully exploited. Innovators will have to confront issues such as the division of labor between human and computer actors, the extent and content of communications between those actors, and how best to organize teams of human and computer resources. Continual upgrading of skills and intellectual tools will also be necessary at all levels of the corporate hierarchy. A particularly important step in supporting 21st-century manufacturing will be to develop accounting and financial schemes that enable manufacturers to account for their increasingly critical intellectual and information assets in the
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Page 11 same way that the generally accepted accounting principles of today allow them to treat building and pieces of equipmentas capital expenditures (i.e., expenditures that relate to the long-term value of a company). Finally, standards and metrics are a mix of both technical and non-technical issues. Standards are needed to support and facilitate interoperability and open architectures and systems, while metrics are needed to determine the impact of information technology on various dimensions of manufacturing. The technical work required in both areas is substantial, but the organizational and social issues that need resolving before appropriate standards and metrics are in common use also deserve much more attention than has been given to date. BOXES.1 Needs of Manufacturing Decision Makers and Examples of How Information Technology Could Contribute to Meeting Them Need Example of Information Technology's Contribution Situational awareness. Both white-collar and blue-collar personnel must be informed about events in the manufacturing environment. An unexpected event may be anything from the breakage of a tool or the delay of a shipment to a design change made to a product. To promote and enhance situational awareness, an IT-based factory information system could display the status of various tools and machines on the shop floor. Diagnosis of problems. Decision makers need to identify the nature and extent of problems. Unexpected events can have a variety of causes. For example, a tool may cease functioning because it blew a fuse, because the bit broke, or because the motor seized due to a lack of lubrication. The stoppage could also have been the result of another error or problem somewhere else on the shop floor. Knowing what caused the problem is key to fixing it. To assist in problem solving, diagnostics aboard a tool could be transmitted to a shop steward in real time. Analytical tools. Decision makers need to evaluate and test various problem-solving approaches and strategies. For example, a decision maker may need to choose between allowing a cell to operate at reduced speed (lowering the throughput but also the risk of damage) or operating it at full speed (increasing the likelihood that the tool will have to be shut down entirely for repairs). To enhance analytical capabilities, information technology-based simulations could help factory managers understand the consequences of different courses of action. Dissemination channels. Solutions to problems must be disseminated. For example, information about the appropriate speed choice for the tool described above is needed both by the on-site crew and by the machine's manufacturer. To enable timely dissemination of solutions to problems, information technology networks can be used to provide relevant text and graphics to all affected sites.
Representative terms from entire chapter: