The Air Force Research Laboratory, Materials and Manufacturing Directorate has launched a public-private partnership known as America Makes, aimed at helping companies design and implement best practices in the manufacturing industry, according to Manufacturing.gov.
The effort will be aimed mostly at growing U.S. capabilities in additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. America Makes is a collaborative effort between business leaders, academia, nonprofit organizations and government agencies to improve designs, materials and technology in the additive manufacturing sector. Additive technology has proven to be an exciting new technology for those in the industry.
America Makes, based in Youngstown, Ohio, is the flagship of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, which is focused on an even broader array of advancements in the manufacturing industry. Both programs are further proof of the increasing complexity of manufacturing in the digital age. With so much technology and new innovation, organizations can be overwhelmed by what processes and advancements are best for their shop floors.
Improving the Supply Chain With Data Collection
One technological advancement that can benefit all manufacturers is advanced data collection. Staying competitive in today's supply chain requires the ability to adapt fast and access important information in real time. With automated assembly lines and other shop floor advancements moving production at new speeds, data collection needs to keep up. Paper-based systems that require logging information manually by employees are no longer adequate.
Automated data collection is also important to companies trying to track and trace products and supplies in a global supply chain. When this data is populated into existing ERP systems, it can be analyzed to create a state-of-the-art understanding of the supply chain and the best practices for improving procedures in the plant. While new collaborative programs provide a great general knowledge of manufacturing technology, automated data collection provides information that is specific to an organization.
Advancements In the Warehouse
The shop floor is not the only location where companies can improve processes and reduce errors. Voice-picking software is revolutionizing distribution warehouses by providing solutions that keep workers more alert and aware of their surroundings. Freeing up the hands of pickers in a warehouse allows them to work faster and the check-digit feature nearly eradicates errors. Most companies will see their error rate drop to 1 percent or less when using voice-picking technology.