There is some skepticism about whether advanced manufacturing — automated, flexible, and networked — can remake manufacturing globally. It would not be the first time a grandiose banner was hung on new technology.
The difference is that the trends underpinning expectations for advanced manufacturing are solid. They’re not even particularly new.
China’s rising labor costs continue to make outsourcing less attractive. Serendipitously, automation software is rapidly growing more sophisticated, and components such as sensors are more powerful and less expensive. The combination of the two trends is resulting in systems that are deft and more flexible.
Perhaps the seminal example of this arose three years ago with a manufacturing update by electronics and appliance maker Royal Philips N.V. when it switched to advanced manufacturing for its shaver lines.
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