Shape of Manufacturing - The most important technology for manufacturers in the upcoming years is software, according to a Delphi study conducted by the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (Ann Arbor, Mich.). More significantly, the types of software manufacturers will be most concerned with are those we think of as "intelligent," i.e., neural networks, autonomous agents, expert systems, chaos theory, object-oriented, etc.
According to Dick Morley, president of Flavors Technology (Manchester, N.H.) and the keynote speaker at the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Conference held last month in Cleveland, Ohio, "Only one thing creates wealth - technology and the ability to use it. In ten years, computers will be 100 times more powerful than they are now, at one/tenth of the cost."
Morley, a well-traveled technology futurist, expounded on the Japanese view of manufacturing in the first decade of the this century:
"Even here in the U.S., people are talking seriously now about automobiles being manufactured right at the dealership," Morley said, "in a room no larger than a typical meeting room."
- We'll see the end of mass production, with all manufacturing done at the point of consumption;
- Concurrently, we'll see the end of centralized factory manufacturing, and the rise of fully distributed manufacturing and personal manufacturing;
- EVERYTHING will be on the Information Superhighway.