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CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS, TRENDS & IDEAS

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3D Printing

What is the Future of the Assembly Line?

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Production changed drastically during the last century and is continuing doing so without loosing any momentum. The most recognized technological shift occurred with Henry Ford’s use of the assembly line and progress has continued in a variety of fashions. One of these that is often overlooked is the use of robotization, an example being KUKA robots, which have reinvigorated factories over the past decades. Through this robotization and computerization more efficient solutions have been brought to the industry and now we are heading to another techno-climax. In this decade we will look for answers to the following questions: What will we consume and how how we will produce them? How will production tools change? Which raw and recycled materials will be used? Will production locations change? All those questions are bringing robots to the fore of the discussion. I have mentioned about the changes in means of the production promoting in-house production in my previous article “Decentralization of Production and Customization culture”. Also my cowritten academic paper with Eric Watson “Impact of Technological Trends: Scenario Planning the Next Technological Paradigm” aimed to project the possible scenarios. Though in this article I am going manipulate recent technological developments to create a better example in an effort to highlight…

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Decentralization of Production and Customization Culture

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“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” Henry Ford Fordism, named after Henry Ford, refers to a modern economic system built on a standardized form of mass production using assembly lines. It was preceded by Frederick Winslow Taylor’s scientific management techniques whose objectives were to improve efficiency and achieve economies of scale. Thereafter, benefiting from standardized production methods, outsourcing models were developed and became a trend to reduce labor costs. As a result mass production became a major factor of international trade. Three years ago I wanted to produce mouthwash dispensers. They had a simple plastic design but the investment amount for 10 units was nearly the same as 500,000 units. This restrained me from testing the market because there was too much risk to produce without knowing market demand and whether the product would be easily replicable. At the time 3D printing was not popular, but now things have changed. 3D printing is an additive manufacturing method that melts plastic wire to create an object layer by layer. It can produce a variety of products by changing print heads using different types of material including plastic, metal, ceramic,…

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