digital manufacturing

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: The essential guide to supply chain management best practices
Contributor(s): Diann Daniel

Digital manufacturing is a technology-based approach to manufacturing that, in its most fully realized form, uses data integration to link different silos and processes of the manufacturing lifecycle so that stakeholders can make better business decisions both comprehensively and at each step. 

The goal of digital manufacturing is to provide manufacturers with better insight at critical decision points to avoid costly errors,  gain efficiencies and be able to respond to customer and market demands in a more agile manner. Data analytics can help designers to get better insight into factory floor challenges their designs may pose. It can also help companies disseminate engineering change notifications with greater efficiency than is typical today and change products in response to market opportunities with a greater awareness of the supply chain issues such changes pose. D Real-time performance visualization can help optimize factory operations and increase production rates while also improving product quality.

Currently, few manufacturers are taking advantage of data or the potential of digital manufacturing. In response, efforts to address this gap are emerging across the globe. Given the expansive and complex nature of digital manufacturing, experts advise companies to first use data to solve specific business problems or meet a specific business goal. In the United States, the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute was created to help manufacturers link data from disparate silos, including data from computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD) systems and manufacturing-execution systems. The organization also sponsors research projects in digital manufacturing and design and provides educational resources to its members.



This was last updated in July 2016

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