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Find Out What Digital Manufacturing Means to Your Future

In a recent survey of over 150 New York City manufacturers, the New York City Industrial and Technology Assistance Corporation (ITAC) found that while the majority of respondents understand that digital technologies are key to the future of business, few actually fully use them—or feel prepared to do so. But that’s not to say they aren’t ready.

In fact, ITAC’s survey suggests that most manufacturers already have the basic building blocks for digital technology; reliable internet and machines capable of connectivity, to name a few. But few leverage these as a foundation on which to build more efficient digital systems—often simply because they lack the in-house expertise. In many cases, operational data is still collected by hand, with decisions made and business sometimes conducted on paper. Valuable process and product data that could be collected by machines and organized in digital databases in real-time often isn’t collected at all. And tools for advanced engineering analysis, resource planning, or process management are scarcely utilized. Together, all of these factors limit the ability to grow and compete in a business environment where customer demands are rapidly evolving. For small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)—whose infrastructure is often aging and less flexible—these challenges are especially apparent.

To address this discrepancy, Dr. Mark Krystofik of Center of Excellence in Advanced & Sustainable Manufacturing (COE-ASM) was recruited by ITAC to develop and deliver a workshop series introducing New York City’s manufacturers to the key concepts of digital manufacturing. As part of the Futureworks NYC Ops21 program, which is sponsored by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), Dr. Krystofik leverages case studies, as well as participants’ own experiences, to help build awareness around how digital manufacturing works, how it can help create competitive advantage, and how many manufacturers are already more capable than they might think.

The key? Spreading the concept that digital manufacturing doesn’t require wholesale replacement of a business’ assets with new, smart machines. Rather, many tools are specifically designed to help businesses do better, using the systems they already have. Engineering analysis software, for example, leverages existing abilities in CAD to identify potential weaknesses in product or process design using only computer models. This means design changes can be made early on in the development process; not only saving the time, material, and labor costs of mistakes on the production line, but also helping businesses bring new products to market faster than ever. Likewise, connectivity tools like machine networking and monitoring software help decision makers see not only what machines are doing, but how they’re doing, informing business decisions like resource planning and even physical maintenance in real time.

Ops21 workshops are happening every month through the Fall of 2018. In addition to Dr. Krystofik’s work on Digital Manufacturing, experts from Cornell University’s Center for Materials Research (CCMR) and NYU Tandon’s Mechatronics Control and Robotics Lab (MCRL) are also participating, hosting workshops on advanced materials and robotics, respectively. Interested manufacturers—from CEOs to engineers to shop-floor technicians—can learn more about the programs, or see the complete calendar on the Ops21 website.

Article provided by: The Center of Excellence in Advanced & Sustainable Manufacturing (COE-ASM) at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

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