The pace of change in global manufacturing is faster right now than at any time in recent history. The technology and practice of large-scale manufacturing are moving into a new era of proficiency-not just typified by improvements in established processes, but taking the form of a software-powered series of new production systems that are qualitatively different from those of previous years. All aspects of manufacturing will be affected, including the way companies address customer needs and wants, research and development, the product development and production process, and the platforms and footprints employed in execution, testing and servicing.
The changes under way will increase productivity, efficiency and innovation, speed-to-market, and flexibility, which will in turn lead to a powerful new cycle of growth and value creation: an era of virtual-to-real manufacturing. As a result, the trade-off between efficiency and customization-which has constrained manufacturing since the Industrial Revolution began-will no longer be nearly as important, and manufacturers will gain new abilities to create and maintain products that more specifically fit what people want and need.