Manufacturing is dirty, dull, and outmoded. It’s a slow-moving industry stuck in the past as new technologies out of Silicon Valley threaten to upend it. Stereotypes are fun, and misleading.
Let’s not forget manufacturing is the industry that made the modern age.
While many were musing about robots in science fiction, manufacturers were putting them to practical use. As tech news headlines hyped up 3D printing, manufacturers had been prototyping with it for decades. And though information technology is the source of the latest revolution, manufacturing is the source of the source. No chip fab facilities, no chips.
Manufacturing is high tech and low tech. Greasy, hands-on problem solving in some places and spotless clean rooms in others. Aging assembly lines and lines of choreographed robot arms. At Singularity University’s Exponential Manufacturing Summit, the industry was in focus, with a good look at what’s coming next. Manufacturing is changing, but that isn’t new.
What’s notable is the quickening pace of change.
The big themes this year: How to sift, identify, and make use of the latest technologies and tools to get nimble, break old habits, and stay ahead of the next big wave. Of course, it’s impossible to fit so much information into so little space, and what matters most depends on your lens.