What is Advanced Manufacturing?



What is Advanced Manufacturing? The ongoing debate.

There is an ongoing debate in manufacturing circles as to what exactly constitutes advanced manufacturing. As acclaimed manufacturing magazine IndustryWeek notes, this debate is more than just an interesting intellectual exercise. Our definition has real implications on how business and government leaders evaluate and formulate public policy and business strategy. It influences investors, politicians, businessmen, and other important figures. So, how is advanced manufacturing currently defined? As IndustryWeek notes, definitions can vary wildly. However, they are usually based upon one of three core concepts: the product, the process, or the management.


Advanced Manufacturing as defined by the product.

The most readily comprehensible definition focuses on the products being made. If those products are highly sophisticated and reliant on cutting-edge technology, then they will be considered products of advanced manufacturing.


Advanced Manufacturing as defined by the process.

Others insist that the term should be defined based upon the manufacturing process itself. Therefore, any manufacturing process that makes use of advanced technology would be considered advanced manufacturing– even if the product is extremely basic and simple.


Advanced Manufacturing as defined by management.

This is probably the most controversial of the three definitions; however, given the enormous influence that non-traditional management methodologies such as lean production are beginning to have on the industry, this definition is worth mentioning. Proponents argue that it is based upon cutting-edge styles of managing, and the definition should reflect this.


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