What Is Advanced Manufacturing? A Quick Guide

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For as long as there has been manufacturing, people have been working to increase efficiency. Faster and better products lead to greater profits and brand loyalty. Using technology to achieve efficiency is called advanced manufacturing.

As technologies have become more innovative, advanced manufacturing technology also improves. This creates better products, as well as the process that is used to create them. To better understand the term, we’ll define what advanced manufacturing is, its purpose and examples.

What Is Advanced Manufacturing?

Advanced manufacturing is the practice of using innovative technologies and methods to improve a company’s ability to be competitive in the manufacturing sector. Advanced manufacturing does this by optimizing all aspects of the value chain, from concept to end-of-life considerations.

This is accomplished through the use of information communication technology (ICT), which integrates manufacturing and business activities to create a more efficient operation. Besides ICT, advanced manufacturing employs automation, computation, software, sensing and networking to create greater efficiencies.

Advanced manufacturing can be found in just about every industry, including electric vehicles, robotics, air structures, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, high volume goods, rapid prototyping and many more.

One thing is constant however, and that’s the need for automation software in order to streamline processes and achieve greater efficiency. ProjectManager is a work and project management software that automates workflows for removing busywork and has task approval settings for quality management. Get started with ProjectManager today for free!

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Purpose of Advanced Manufacturing

The purpose of advanced manufacturing is to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace, and it does this in different ways. Certainly, one of the main reasons for advanced manufacturing is to enhance output. The more you make, the more you can sell.

That doesn’t mean advanced manufacturing is all about increasing production. There are also areas that can be reduced and in doing so will add efficiency such as process optimization. For example, advanced manufacturing wants to reduce the time it takes to bring a product to market, reduce the unit quantities, material content, material inventory and under-utilized capital plant.

Difference Between Manufacturing and Advanced Manufacturing

Is advanced manufacturing much different from regular manufacturing? Traditional manufacturing, of course, is thought of as taking raw materials and creating a product that adds value.

Advanced manufacturing tends to be used in more cutting-edge industries, such as medical, aerospace and pharmaceutical. It’s based on scaling, labor skills, research and development and flexible production. However, the differences between the two are getting smaller, as traditional manufacturing begins to use more high-tech equipment and systems.

Production Strategy

That said, there are still differences between the two. For example, the production strategy is different. In traditional manufacturing, the strategy is mass production, while advanced manufacturing customizes and stays customer-focused. The organizational structure is also different. Traditional manufacturing is hierarchical, and advanced follows a flat, open flow of information.

Labor

In traditional manufacturing there is usually an abundant supply of un- or semi-skilled labor; however, advanced manufacturing requires a skilled labor force with technical knowledge. Therefore, traditional manufacturing more often provides on-the-job training or just vocational school. Advanced manufacturing needs people who have a higher level of education and a technical degree.

The labor force in traditional manufacturing often needs about three semi-skilled workers for every skilled one. In advanced manufacturing, it’s almost the reverse: about four skilled workers for each semi-skilled one. This is because traditional manufacturing has a production technology that involves casting, welding, molding, brazing and machining, among other things. Advanced technology can include 3-D printing, powder bed, material deposition, etc.

Investment

Traditional manufacturing invests in production, and advanced manufacturing takes its revenues and puts them into research and development. Therefore, traditional manufacturing requires infrastructure space and advanced manufacturing is more focused on IT and digital infrastructure.

Logistics

Logistics is another area where the two types of manufacturing diverge. Traditional manufacturing delivers its product to market through traditional channels, such as highway and rail. Advanced manufacturing uses global supply-chain management.

Types of Advanced Manufacturing Technology

As we said, there are many types of advanced manufacturing technology. First, let’s divide advanced manufacturing into three main groups.

  1. Efficient Production: The emphasis here is on simultaneous rather than sequential engineering and involves design, simulation, physical and computer modeling, advanced production technologies and control techniques. This is used in rapid prototyping and precision casting.
  2. Intelligent Production: Uses ICT and related logistic systems to implement systems for the extended life and optimal use of production facilities. It does this by efficiently monitoring, regular maintenance and repair.
  3. Effective Organization: Coordinating and exploiting manufacturing resources, both physical and knowledge-based. This is used with virtual tendering, enterprise, shared facilities and resources, novel organization, incubation units, knowledge management and trading and electronic commerce.

Examples of Advanced Manufacturing

The following are some of the ways that advanced technology is used to develop new markets, new technologies and new methods of manufacturing products:

Additive Manufacturing

This type of advanced manufacturing includes 3-D printing, powder-bed laser printing systems, fused deposition modeling and other processes that involve complex assemblies from continuous material. Benefits include reducing failure points in the system and reducing weight, complexity and thermal dissipation problems. This is used in aerospace, medical, prototyping, automotive, consumer goods and other sectors.

Advanced/Composite Materials

Here you create precise blends of metals, plastics, glass, ceramics, etc., for specific applications. They vary in terms of physical and chemical properties, creating performance breakthroughs and reducing the material tradeoff decisions. Some of these composite materials include high-strength alloys, recyclable plastics and more.

Robotics/Automation

Uses automated systems for heavy lifting, precision movement and joining pieces on the factory line. It improves the consistency of the work and is ideal for tasks that are dangerous in that it limits human risk, overhead and waste while producing faster and cheaper. Robotics can be found in the automotive, aerospace, forging and consumer goods markets, and will likely grow with the advance of the technology to include further industries.

Laser Machining/Welding

Allows for greater precision and safety when welding and machining, including rapid and accurate processing of parts using laser technology. It reduces the amount of heat on the material and reduces cracking and poor joining. These processes are used in pressure vessels, proximity sensor welding, battery welding, sensitive electronics and more.

Nanotechnology

Being able to pack more into less space is one driver for nanotechnology. It is used in fields such as chemical and biological applications to enhance material properties, control light spectroscopy and chemical reactivity. Using nanotechnology allows for advanced manufacturing systems to reduce their overall footprint and maximize functionality across the production line.

Network/IT Integration

The internet connects people and information. By using network communications on the factory floor manufacturers can create closed-loop feedback and precision tuning electronically instead of manually. This reduces maintenance costs and improves the overall efficiency of production. By having network access throughout the manufacturing process, manufacturers can instantly pinpoint issues and potential repairs, which saves time and money.

How ProjectManager Helps with Advanced Manufacturing

ProjectManager is cloud-based work and project management software that delivers real-time data for more insightful decision-making in advanced manufacturing. Real-time dashboards and one-click reports allow you to capture live data. Know what’s happening as it happens so you can reallocate resources as needed to avoid bottlenecks.

Schedule With Interactive Gantt Charts

Plan maintenance, schedule workers and more with online Gantt charts. You can see the entire production schedule on one timeline, link dependencies and even filter for the critical path. Once you’ve scheduled work, set a baseline to track the variance between the planned and actual effort in real time.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart

Streamline Processes With Workflow Automation

Keep your workers focused on what’s important by freeing them up from busywork. Set as many triggers as you need to automatically move work through production, change assignees and much more. Then to ensure the quality of the work being done, created task approvals so only those authorized to change the status of work can do so.

ProjectManager's workflow automation

Flexible Features Serve the Entire Team

Advanced manufacturing requires flexible software that can work in the boardroom and on the factory floor. ProjectManager’s multiple project views mean you can schedule on Gantt charts or the sheet view, teams can manage their tasks on kanban boards, the list view of a robust calendar. All can be automated, share data for one source of truth and offer a collaborative platform.

Task list in ProjectManager

Our software lets you manage costs, resources and stay updated in real time with email notifications and in-app alerts so you know if someone comments or updates a task. Balance your team’s workload to keep them productive and use secure timesheets to streamline payroll and track your team’s work on tasks.

ProjectManager is award-winning software that helps manufacturers fabricate and deliver their products on time and within budget. Our flexible tool has a collaborative platform that allows every department to work better together and communicate in real time. Resources can be tracked and allocated as needed to keep the production cycle running smoothly. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

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