data collected by sensors in manufacturing
equipment, products, and enterprise management systems will drive progress toward
the MBE vision.
As leading MRO and manufactur- ing enterprises in the A&D sector and beyond work to digitally integrate disparate systems and introduce automated technologies and processes, there
will be many challenges to overcome. The
costly and involved process of upgrading
technology infrastructure to accommodate
and integrate enterprise management systems, Io T and Big Data programs, robotics,
and additive manufacturing is daunting,
especially for smaller entities in the supply
chain. Finding the skilled talent to develop,
implement, and maintain the technologies
underpinning the MBE is another thorny
issue, one that will require the cooperation
of government and educational institutions on a national, even global scale.
At the enterprise level, digital transformation will require profound cultural shifts.
Workers may resist automation and retraining, executives may resist the required capital investments, and everyone will inevitably
resist change and find it hard to switch from
traditional methods to digital processes. Particularly key is learning to trust the digital
master (e.g., MBD or digital thread) as the
authoritative source for all design, engineering, production, and inspection activities.
For U.S. manufacturers, global compe-
tition—for customers, workers, suppliers,
resources, and intellectual property—
continues to intensify. Likewise, regula-
tory scrutiny at home and abroad shows no
signs of easing, especially not for complex
discrete manufacturers in highly sensitive
industries like A&D, medicine, and ener-
gy. Regulations and standards always lag
behind technological innovation, and are
likely to frustrate, even hinder, automa-
tion and integration initiatives in the near
to mid term. Industry leaders and associa-
tions should continue to work together on
standards (IIo T, CAD/CAM, etc.) to en-
sure interoperability, a hallmark of suc-
cessful digital thread implementations.
Last but not least, cyber security remains
a vexing and relentless battle against organized crime, state-sponsored operatives,
and political hacktivists.
The pressures of global competi- tion, skills shortages, and customer demand leave little time for timid
starts and half measures. It’s time for manufacturing and MRO enterprises to take a
hard, clear look at thematurity of their digital
capabilities. NIST and related organizations
are developing and promoting enterprise
capability assessment tools, test beds, standards, and partnerships to support companies as they build smart manufacturing platforms and adopt an MBE approach.
In addition to readiness assessments,
there are many first steps to take on the
MBE journey: benchmarking and goal-setting, experimenting with pilot projects,
training in MBE essentials, and cultivating
data management expertise are but a few.
As the A&D sector has exemplified through
MRO innovations, digital integration and
automation have real potential to transform massive, complex industries.
What once was a conceptual vision for the future
is rapidly materializing
into tomorrow’s standard of excellence. M
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need to learn
to trust the
ter as the