Advanced Manufacturing centres upon improving the performance of industry through innovative application of technologies, processes and methods to product design and production. The aim of Advanced Manufacturing is to enhance output by increasing added value, efficiencies, responsiveness to markets and flexibility; while decreasing time to market and environmental impact.
Traditional manufacturing is typically based on the use of dedicated plant and production lines with little or no flexibility. In contrast, Advanced Manufacturing involves versatile methods that fully utilise production processes that are more efficient, effective and responsive. Traditional manufacturing methods are still appropriate where long, predictable production runs are desired. By contrast Advanced Manufacturing has the capacity to accommodate transient 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 involves utilisation of digital workflows and computer technologies (e.g. CAD, CAE, HPC) to integrate the manufacturing and business activities into a seamless efficient operation. Advanced Manufacturing is recognisable through its incorporation of high procession technologies that are automated, responsive, self-monitoring, smart production processes.
The technologies involved in Advanced Manufacturing can be divided into three main groupings:
- Efficient production; involves design, simulation, physical and computer modelling, and control techniques. The emphasis is on simultaneous rather than sequential engineering. Relevant production technologies include additive manufacturing, near net shape manufacture, and precision casting 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.