The Pros and Cons of Advanced Manufacturing

Advanced manufacturing is the use of new and innovative technology to improve manufacturing of goods and services. The rate at which technology is adapted and the ability to use technology well can make a vast difference in the ability of a company to stay competitive against other manufacturers. According to PCAST, “A concise definition of advanced manufacturing offered by some is manufacturing that entails rapid transfer of science and technology (S&T) into manufacturing products and processes.” (PCAST, April 2010.)

On any given day, people and companies are using technology. It has become an integral part of our lives. For communication, technology is also a requirement. We use it for communicating via: SMS, Cell Phone, Email, Social media.

Now we use it to communicate in business, to keep track of customers and to manage our relationships with them.  Today most businesses have fully embraced technology. We are using the Internet of Things in order to create better ways to do business. We're managing our manufacturing, we're keeping track of our customers, we're using to to keep our homes warm or cool and to power our factories and tell the machines what to do.

One example of this is that if a manufacturing plant finds that it fails in higher temperatures, sensors connected to the machines can stop them to allow them to cool or can kick on the cooling system to prevent overheating in the factory floor. Likewise a bakery that uses advanced technology to automate the production can control the oven temperatures and the cooling abilities.  These things can save time and money for the factory owner.

The pros of this type of system are the factories can:

  • Deliver higher quality products
  • Lower the cost of product delivery
  • Save risks for the factory or manufacturer
  • Increase productivity and reliability

The Cons are that:

  • Manual labor is less necessary which means that jobs are lost
  • Smaller businesses likely cannot afford advanced technology, meaning that many cannot compete and will go out of business.

In many cases, automation will improve small businesses for those who are willing to take out loans and find a way to accomplish the changes in their own business. Those who cannot do so will close, lowering the amount of competition that is available and probably limiting the choices for the average consumer.

While the online communication and the many different ways of doing business will benefit many companies, it may not, in every case, benefit the worker or in some cases, even the buyer, which are factors that must be taken into account while reviewing the use of advanced automation and manufacturing techniques.

Not every aspect of advanced manufacturing will be a positive one, but the end run is that the businesses who can adapt to it will improve their products, increase their bottom line and in many cases lower the cost of goods for the buyer.

 

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Photo: SoftWear