Manufacturing products creates jobs, solves problems, and introduces new technologies. Our world relies on manufacturing for everything, from bricks to cell phones. Manufacturing is defined as man and/or machine labor that takes raw materials, parts, and other resources, and turn them into products for consumers. However, the origin of the word manufacturing has an Italian-French history used to describe something hand made, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Today, when most of us think about manufacturing, it brings to mind large organizations with publicly traded stocks and shareholders. Throughout the history of manufacturing, businesses have learned that consumer spending trends greatly influence how and why they are produced.
Types of manufacturing
There are five basic types of manufacturing:
- Job shop Processing
- Discrete Processing
- Repetitive Processing
- Process Manufacturing (Batch)
- Process Manufacturing (Continuous)
Job shop processing is described as a business that has workstations that assemble products in one location of the shop. However, a production line can be assembled to complete larger tasks. Discrete processing utilizes a complex assembly line to build products. Repetitive processing uses simple assembly lines to make products. A wear plate is a necessary part of manufacturing. When expensive machinery is doing repetitive actions, a wear plate can make this machinery last much longer.
Process manufacturing (batch) requires complex assembly lines and workstations or job shop processing. This type of manufacturing can also be converted to a continuous type that supports 24/7 production. Process manufacturing (continuous) are 24/7 repetitive processing types that are used mainly to process liquids, gases, and other raw materials.
The 6th type of manufacturing
Invented in 1981, 3D printing is quickly becoming popular and more accessible all over the world. Its biggest advantage is to not need an assembly line. For that matter, it doesn’t even need a building. 3D printers are a revolutionary technology that allows anyone to fabricate parts that combine to produce a finished product. Typically, a designer simply types in the dimensions and pour in raw materials. However, one drawback is that 3D printers typically can only make one or two parts at a time. They may not be the successor to conventional manufacturing because of time constraints. Initially, 3D printers were expensive, but they are quickly becoming more affordable. According to Machinedesign.com, there are more than 100,000 3D printers in the market. The article also notes an 875% increase in the industry in a five-year time span.
The future of manufacturing
Today, we live in a fascinating digital era and our technology will be the driving force of future economic markets. According to this 2018 Forbes article, artificial intelligence and block chain markets will help lead the way. The study goes further to say that out of 100 top organizations in research and development, 86% are manufacturing companies. It also states that cloud computing, the internet of things, advanced analytics, and others are among the top investments for manufacturers.
The history of manufacturing has humble beginnings. In our time it means something different. As new digital technologies spring forth, they will change the way manufacturing is conceived. Manufacturing in the future will be strongly influenced by green technology and AI. Imagine how useful future versions of 3D printers can be. The ability to create everyday items on demand is amazing and efficient. It also reduces the impact of carbon production.
There will always be a need for large scale mass production plants and assembly line products. Manufacturers will always need to extract raw materials and turn them into products. What is changing about manufacturing is who will be considered a manufacturer. Perhaps one day when you want the next new cell phone, you may buy the plans from the maker. Next, you download the plans into a 3D printer. In a few minutes, you have your phone ready to add your contacts. If you break it or lose it, just make another one. Innovation in technology allows small startups to gain access to the same advantages of larger counterparts. Although manufacturing has changed over the years, it remains to be a significant part of what keeps the world connected.