Manufacturing, Design, and Innovation
This is an expanded version of my welcoming address to the "Workshop on Building the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation," September 27, 2012, held at the western conference center of the National Academies, Irvine, California. Website
On behalf of the National Academy of Engineering, I am delighted to welcome you to the National Academies' western home and to this jointly sponsored workshop. As many of you know, the National Academies has four parts: Science, Engineering and Medicine. The fourth part is the National Research Council that does definitive, careful studies of topics of interest to the US government, the house and senate, and to the country. The engineering side has been extremely concerned with the demise of manufacturing in the US, which is why it has taken so much interest in this endeavor.
Here are two stories that illustrate the issues we face.
STORY 1: A HARDWARE STARTUP
I am on the board of a small startup company in the Chicago area. We make sophisticated multi-touch control panels for commercial use: think of it as making the colorful, easy to use gesture controls you see on smart phones, but for the commercial market. Our devices work in extreme hot and cold, in the rain, even if the workers are wearing gloves.
We manufacture in Chicago. But recently, we opened up a manufacturing facility in China. Why not expand the Chicago facility? Why go to China?
Lower cost labor? No. Labor is a minor part of the part cost. The availability of sufficiently skilled workers? No, we have no trouble finding good people in the Chicago area. Zoning or taxes? No.
We went to China for two reasons: Supply chain and financing.
Our panels are components: part of larger products. Our controls are added on top of LCD display screens, and then sent to the OEM, who inserts them into their product. Where are LCDs made? China. Where are the final products manufactured? China.
Having to ship components back and forth between Chicago and China is disruptive. It adds inefficient, disruptive time delays and adds cost. It makes troubleshooting inefficient should difficulties arise. The supply chain works best when tightly-coupled parts are co-located.
A second problem is financing. The feeling in the world of funding is that manufacturing companies are not viable. Software is hot. High margins, little capital investment. Just a bunch of young kids. Manufacturing though takes capital investment. Margins are lower. It takes longer to recoup the investment.
Take a bunch of young kids, right out of school, with some social-networking, sharing idea, and in six months they can get a few million bucks to fund their company. I'm working with two software startups who have received tens of millions of dollars of funding despite having no sales in one case and miniscule sales in the other.
Take a bunch of seasoned veterans with a physical product that requires manufacturing, such as my Chicago company, and it is very difficult to get funding. In the case of my Chicago company it took forever to get a few million from investors. This company had real sales, real customers. Some of you may even use products that use its components. My two Silicon Valley companies got four times the amount of funding in a shorter period.
We received a large order that required us to enlarge our manufacturing facilities, but we had difficulty getting the necessary funds in the United States. Our Chinese partner volunteered to build the line for us in their facilities. Why? Because we both won: they were able to increase their sales by offering a combined package of LCDs and touch control panels, which also increased our sales. Finally, we dramatically simplified supply chain issues.
I asked the CEO if he could describe the issues for me to use in this talk. I quote from his email:
Without access to capital, manufacturing endeavors are not possible. Angels and VCs are seldom interested in manufacturing related investments and banks won't look at you, unless, of course the company is well established with plenty of capital on hand. ... here in the US we have lost the appetite for or the understanding of how, manufacturing works.
... it is easier and faster to get a simple decorated cover lens (glass with silkscreen printing) from China than from here in the US. We have systematically destroyed our skills to make physical products. Even if I had all the capital to build full production in the US, I could not buy enough raw materials to keep my lines running. We setup and launched product (with our partner in China) in 2 months. It took us over 12, here in the US.
Why move to China? Because of funding and supply chain. What would it take to move back to the United States? It is an interconnected system. We must solve all the components:
- Supply chain
- The ring of part suppliers
Two of the top MBA programs in manufacturing in the United States were Northwestern's Master in Management and Manufacturing program and MIT's Leadership for Manufacturing program. Both were dual-degree programs, so the students received an MBA and an Engineering masters degree.
Both schools changed the names of their programs to eliminate the word "Manufacturing" from the title. Northwestern's program was renamed MMM, where the letters had no meaning. MIT's program was renamed Leadership for Global Operations.
I was co-director of the Northwestern program from the engineering side when the name was changed. I taught design to the MBA students. Why did we delete manufacturing? The students drove the change. Manufacturing was not where the excitement lay. The name was keeping good students away. Design was exciting to them, as were global operations and supply chain. Not manufacturing.
I asked my MIT colleague why LfM changed. He said:
"The students felt strongly that operations, and particularly global supply chain management, had become the issue of greatest interest for manufacturing companies."
The popular perception among young engineering and business students is that manufacturing is dull: the future is design and operations. This is a serious problem in our attempt to revive manufacturing in the United States. These young, ambitious MBA/Engineers represent the future. We have to capture the future.
WHY I AM OPTIMISTIC: STEPS TOWARD A SOLUTION
1. We Can Build on Our Core Competencies.
What is the United States good at? What are our core competencies?
- Out-of-the-box thinking.
My field is Human-Centered Design: making products that people can use, that fit their needs, that excite them and are enjoyable. The United States leads the world in human-centered design. This is true in all domains: computer and cellphone applications, industrial equipment, work tools for professionals, and of course home and consumer electronics. It is not an accident that the entire world relies on our operating systems: Apple, Google, and Microsoft for phones; Apple and Microsoft for computers.
We lead the world in design, especially human-centered design.
2. There Is a Resurgence of Interest in Making Things.
There is also a wonderful surge of interest in building things. We see this in:
- The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) movement.
- The Makers communities.
- The birth of hardware incubators and workshops
- The great success of hardware contests in schools, from robots to electric vehicles.
- The development of additive manufacturing methods, especially the introduction of 3D printing.
Some of you may look at this list and complain that these are all small, hobbyist or simple batch-processing methods. Additive manufacturing and 3D printing, for example, are slow and limited in the types of material they can use, and the size and quality of the parts they produce. Better machines are expensive. Yes, General Electric uses 3D printing to produce components for their large jet engines, but these are not produced with the kind of numbers that modern mass manufacturing requires.
3. Disruptive Innovation Is Our Ally.
All the criticisms of the resurgence of interest in making things are true. But read Clayton Christensen's work on Disruptive Innovation: All disruptive technologies start out as toys, far too limited to be taken seriously. Want an example? Think of the home PC: those of us in the computer business scoffed at the limited capability of the Apple II and the IBM PC. We used powerful computers by DEC, Silicon Graphics, and Sun Microsystems. Every one of those companies is now dead, killed by the PC.
New technologies cause people to rethink how they do things. They enable new methods that had never before been thought about. Mass customization may finally become real. Moreover, over time, the technologies become better, more robust, of higher quality and capability, and all at lower cost.
4. We Can Build on our Competencies.
This is the beginning of a revolution in manufacturing. Let's take advantage of it. Let's drive it.
Let's build on our competencies in design and innovation. This means making them valued here, in the United States, which means encouraging engineers to want to build, make, and create. Providing the talent to manufacture here, where the ideas come from.
Supply chain issues will help us: When design, supply, and manufacture are co-located, efficiencies rise, time delays are eliminated, quality goes up.
5. The NAE Initiative in Manufacturing, Design, and Innovation (MDI).
The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has launched a Manufacturing, Design and Innovation Initiative to focus on the transforming nature of manufacturing. Creating and delivering products and related services that have value to customers and society.
The major theme of the NAE workshop was the integration of Manufacturing, Design, and Innovation. Integration is key to success.
MANUFACTURING IS A SYSTEMS PROBLEM
This is a systems problem. We cannot bring back manufacturing to the United States with a single solution. Not new technologies, not new manufacturing methods, not better access to capital, not better suppliers, better supply chain, better political support. Not even disruptive innovation.
No single one of these will do the trick. Each is necessary, but each alone is not sufficient. We need all of them.
This is a system: we need to rebuild the entire system.
Let's build on these competencies. Which means making them valued here, in the United States, which means encouraging engineers and managers to want to build, make, and create. We need to marry manufacturing with Design and Innovation, to restore the supporting supply chain infrastructure, and to assemble the political support, the financial capital, and all the necessary parts of the system.
We need to get back the thrill of creating things, of making, building. And yes, manufacturing. We need more people who find this exciting. And to make this happen we need to change. Hence, this conference.
Advanced Manufacturing Portal:
NAE Report: Making Value: Integrating Manufacturing, Design, and Innovation to Thrive in the Changing Global Economy
Clayton Christensen on Disruptive Innovation:
Don Norman bio
Don Norman is both a businessperson (VP at Apple, Executive at HP and an academic (Harvard, UC San Diego, Northwestern, KAIST). He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, an IDEO fellow, and a trustee of IIT's Institute of design. As co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group he serves on company boards and helps companies make products more enjoyable, understandable, and profitable. He is the author of "The Design of Everyday Things," "Emotional Design," and "The Design of Future Things. His latest book is "Living with Complexity. He lives at www.jnd.org.
…converting ideas into useful products...
Manufacturing encompasses all the activities of making discrete engineering products from raw material by various processes and operations following a well-organized plan for all the aspects involved. Advanced manufacturing refers to the application of enabling technologies in manufacturing. It is important to realize that the advanced manufacturing systems also require input from the traditional manufacturing, many times with stricter control of dimensions and other technological properties. Therefore, it becomes important to select proper manufacturing processes and strategies to deliver the products with right quality at the right time to the customers at a competitive price in a sustainable manner. The challenges faced by the manufacturing engineers differ from sector to sector depending on the variety and quantity required. Typical manufacturing intensive sectors are automobile, space, health care, energy, textile and defence. It is a well-known fact that manufacturing is a wealth-creating activity. Besides encouraging large scale industries, efforts must be focused on setting up small and micro scale industries. Under the right conditions, young professionals will be able to setup their manufacturing enterprise anywhere in the country. Manufacturing has a distinct advantage of engaging people with different skills, as the activities vary from traditional to advanced levels.
Sub-themes along with topics and names of the researchers working in the sub-themes are given under different themes (A-E) in the following sections. The contents will be updated from time to time.
… bringing about changes in shape and property…
Processes For Shape Changes: Processes such as casting, molding, forming and powder metallurgy processes produce net-shape parts. The parts can also be produced by additive methods either by traditional joining processes and advanced processes like laser beam welding, electron beam welding, friction stir welding, or incremental processes such as layered fusion deposition, 3-D printing and laser sintering. To enhance the productivity and to maintain stricter control of dimension and property, continuous improvements and innovations are necessary in the net-shape manufacturing processes. It is possible only through a fundamental understanding of process mechanics and influence of different variables on the process outcome.
Subtractive processes involve removal of excess material to produce parts with required shape, size and finish. For realization of quality parts, the parts made by net-shape or additive processes also require the application of subtractive processes on selected areas. Shearing action by sharp edges on a cutting tool or abrasive grains on a grinding wheel removes material in the form of chip or swarf in traditional processes. When it becomes difficult to shear the material, non-traditional processes based on other sources of energy such as chemical, electrical, laser, plasma and high velocity jet, and different hybrids are used. Further improvement in finish is achieved by honing and super-finishing processes that use abrasive sticks and also by lapping, extrude honing, abrasive flow finishing and magneto-rheological abrasive finishing processes that use abrasives in different carrier medium. In certain applications, chemical, electro-chemical and hybrid processes are used to improve the surface finish. The basic mechanics involved in the subtractive processes are also to be understood thoroughly to improve the productivity and part quality.
(i) Casting processes: Die-casting, Investment casting, Squeeze casting; Stir casting
(ii) Processes for polymeric materials: Moulding processes, Fibre reinforced composites fabrication
(iii) Forming processes: Bulk deformation, Sheet metal forming
(iv) Powder metallurgy processes: Metallic parts, carbides and ceramics parts
(i) Joining processes: Arc welding, resistance welding, laser welding, electron beam welding, explosive joining; friction stir welding; Brazing and soldering
(ii) Incremental process: Layered fusion deposition, 3-D printing, Laser sintering
(i) Traditional material removal processes: Turning, drilling, milling, high speed machining, grinding. Mechanical micro-machining
(ii) Non-traditional material removal processes: Electro-discharge, Electro-chemical; Laser beam; Electron beam, Abrasive Water jet; Electro-chemical grinding; Hybrid methods; Micro-/nano-fabrication methods
(iii) Finishing processes: Honing, Lapping, super-finishing, Extrude honing, Abrasive flow finishing, Magneto-rheological abrasive finishing, hybrid methods
Processes for Property Change: Certain parts require changes in bulk material properties at different stages of manufacturing and the material is therefore subjected to suitable heat treatment cycle. For example, molds and dies are easily machined in annealed condition, while through-hardening is done before the final grinding or die-sinking. Changes in the properties of surface layer alone can be achieved by burnishing, peening, surface hardening, laser treatment, coatings, plating, and protective painting. Selection of appropriate method depends on the service requirements.
The manufacturing engineer is expected to know the material properties and the changes that can be brought about by suitable treatments. It is essential to know the charaterization of treated surface and the functional requirements.
(i) Heat-treatment processes:: Annealing, normalizing, homogenization, hardening
(ii) Severe plastic deformation processes:: Equal Channel Angular Pressing, Accumulative Roll Bonding, Friction Stir Processing
(i) Surface deformation: Burnishing, peening
(ii) Thermal treatment: surface hardening, laser treatment
(iii) Protective coatings: plating, painting
Verification of Manufactured Parts
…checking conformance to specification…
Different characteristics of the manufactured parts are measured by metrology instruments to verify their conformance to specification. It is mandatory that the results are quoted along with the uncertainty in the measurement. For many critical characteristics, 100% inspection is necessary. For non-critical characteristics, sampling inspection is good enough as it reduces the inspection time and cost. It is prudent to introduce verification at intermediate stages and make the operator responsible to produce quality parts.
Systematically carried out measurements are also useful to ascertain the process capability from time to time. A good background in statistics is necessary for the people involved in the measurement and analysis. A suitable training is necessary for people involved in the metrology and inspection tasks. The skill level required is one order higher than that of the process people.
(i) Dimension: Linear, angular
(ii) Form: Straightness, flatness, circularity, cylindricity, free-form profile/surfaces
(iii) Surface finish: surface texture, waviness, roughness
(iv) Relationship: Parallelism, perpendicularity, concentricity, co-axiality, runt-out
(i) Surface hardness
(ii) Residual stresses
(iii) Functional test: strength, fatigue, corrosion
Manufacturing Equipment and Tooling
…making machines and accessories to facilitate manufacturing…
The equipment necessary for different processes such as casting, forming, machining and other non-traditional processes are designed and developed by the respective equipment manufacturer. Standard tools and accessories are also available to meet the manufacturing requirements of simple parts. However, industries buying these machines for production of parts with complex geometry have to develop required production tools, namely dies, moulds, special cutting tools and work-holding devices for each part. Sometimes, dedicated machines are needed to enhance the quality and productivity. Manufacturing engineer faces the challenges in developing not only the dedicated machines, but also a number of production tools for the parts. All the machines and tooling are subjected to rigorous inspection by appropriate metrology equipment for qualifying them.
It is seen that many courses on manufacturing have been removed from the curriculum to make way for latest topics that are more descriptive. With the available resources, one can learn them on their own. However, certain core-courses require rigorous classroom teaching and practical training. For example, a course on machine-building must be revived with more emphasis on machine tools development. Also a course on tool design and engineering must be made as a core-course.
(i) Foundry equipments: Sand filling machines, shakers, die-casting machines, squeeze casting machines, stir casting machines
(ii) Forming machines: Forging machines, presses, special purpose forming machines
(iii) Machine tools & other machines: Metal cutting: General purpose machine tools, High speed machines, Special Purpose Machines: Gear cutting machines, deep-hole drilling machines, Non-traditional: EDM, ECM, AWJM
(i) Patterns, Dies and Moulds: Patterns, molds and dies for casting; molds for plastic parts, forging and press working dies
(ii) Cutting tools: Single point tool, multi-point tools, form cutting tools, generation cutting tools
…making machines sense and act intelligently…
The metrology which has remained mostly as a post-manufacturing activity can now be moved closer to manufacturing process as a result of technological advancement. Measurement, automation and information technologies are required to take the manufacturing to the advanced level. Measurement technology must be built into the system with metrology and sensing devices for online monitoring of the process. The process automation is then achieved by signal processing and appropriate feedback control. Automation of tool path movement is done using CNC technology and part or tool changes are handled by robotic arms and such devices. Information technology is useful in CAD-CAM integration and process simulation, and to take manufacturing to web-based and virtual reality environment.
The manufacturing engineer is expected to be familiar with sensor technology, automation and information technology. Unfortunately, even the existing mechatronics courses do not meet the growing demands in the manufacturing sector. Tailor-made programs need to be floated and skill upgradation is done depending on the type of industry.
(i) Metrology: Dimensional, form and surface finish measurements
(ii) Sensors: Force, temperature, vibration, acoustic emission
(i) Process automation: CNC technology, adaptive control, AI
(ii) Handling automation: Conveyors; manipulators, robotics
(i) CAD- CAM: Process simulation; virtual manufacturing, Web-based manufacturing
…deciding system configuration and practices…
Based on the product design, data analysis and life cycle analysis, configuration of manufacturing system must be arrived using system simulation and intelligent decision support system. Among the approaches like best practices, world-class manufacturing, lean manufacturing, agile manufacturing and other hybrid methods, appropriate practices have to be identified for small, medium and large scale manufacturing. Proper mix of manufacturing and managerial aspects must be ensured for healthy manufacturing environment.
(i) System configuration: Product design, Data analysis, Life cycle analysis, Layout, system simulation, Intelligent decision system
(i) Small, medium and large scale manufacturing: World-class manufacturing, Lean Manufacturing, Agile Manufacturing
Application in Different Sectors
…facing challenges posed by other sectors…
Manufacturing covers almost all the sectors; typical ones being automobile, space, electrical and electronics, energy, health care, textile and defence. Since newer and advanced materials are used in these sectors and the product sizes vary from several meters to few millimeters with feature sizes ranging from millimeter to micrometer, the challenges have to be met only with innovations in processes and practices. In the present context, life cycle cost will be deciding factor in global competiveness. Therefore, it is necessary for a manufacturing engineer to have an in-depth knowledge of cost estimation and control.
The product performance must be monitored throughout its life and this is possible through appropriate sensor technology and data analytics. To cater to these challenges, research and development must be encouraged within the organization. Strong tie-ups with leading research and academic institutions in the country are necessary to promote development of newer products and processes.
Typical Manufacturing sectors:
(i) Transport: Automobile, Space,
(iii) Health care:
(iv) Textile machines:
(v) Electrical and Electronics:
Education Policy in Manufacturing
…catch them young...
The education and training policy must be evolved to achieve excellence in manufacturing in all sectors. The best approach will be to “Catch Them Young”. Abundant curiosity inherent in the children, as evident from the way they build sand-castles in beach and temporary shelters using discarded material, must be nurtured in the school level. To start with, the children can be asked to make demonstration models using easy-to-cut materials. As they grow, they can make functional parts using locally available materials. In senior level, they can make parts by 3-D printing. School curriculum must have a provision for this practical work.
School-level competition on make-your-part can be held as an annual event. Like popular “science” books on different topics, popular “engineering” books on manufacturing must be brought out. In college/university level, existing completely descriptive or highly theoretical courses on manufacturing must be replaced by courses that include practical aspects in addition to the basic concepts. Even manufacture of a device can be considered as a free-elective and given appropriate credit. At the post-graduate level, a course on manufacturing planning and cost estimation must be introduced.
Special training programs can be offered to students to inculcate entrepreneurship skills and prepare their minds right from the senior school level. Government must encourage young graduates to get into entrepreneurship by removing procedural bottlenecks and offering incentives. Working professionals in manufacturing also require continuous skill upgradation and they may be given certificate on completion of each program.