The Evolution of Manufacturing Part I

[dot_recommends] October 11, 2021 Manufacturing Trends

From Artisan to Advanced Technology

The evolution of manufacturing accelrated in the computer age - here David Packard and Bill Hewlett found their company in a Palo Alto, California garage. Their first product, the HP 200A Audio Oscillator, rapidly became a popular piece of test equipment for engineers.

 

We’ve all seen the latest retail point-of-service devices and office tech. Unlike in those sectors, the evolution of manufacturing takes place out of public sight.

Maybe that’s why some people still think of factories as they looked 50 years ago.

In celebration of National Manufacturing Month, let’s pause to consider just how far we’ve come.

Ancient Origins of Manufacturing: Artisan Craftspersons

Once upon a time, high-cost, low-volume artisan craftspersons produced all goods. Knowledge and skills passed slowly from master to apprentice. Artisans used relatively primitive hand tools.

 

The Rise of Factories

Then, in the late 1700’s we started to see manufacturing evolve. Production shifted from home-based artisan businesses to the first factories.

Workers in these early factories labored in terrible conditions. Gradually, laws emerged to limit work hours and provide minimum wages for workers. Still, manufacturing work remained physically demanding.

 

100 Years ago: The Birth of Mass Production

In the 1910s and 1920s, electric power began to replace steam. New technology expanded industrial machinery capabilities.

Newer machines sped production and reduced the physical demands on workers. Assembly lines became more common.

As production advancements made goods more affordable, demand for goods grew. That, in turn, prompted more production. Manufacturing had come of age!

 

50 Years ago: Computers and the Birth of Digitalization

Digitalization began more than 50 years ago with the invention of the computer. Below are a few manufacturing highlights from the timeline of computers:

  • 1940 – Bell demonstrated the first complex number calculator (CNC).
  • 1964 – Manufacturers, small business, and laboratories bought thousands of PDP-8 minicomputers.
  • 1973 – Intel introduced their first microprocessor.

 

Today and Beyond: Artificial Intelligence and Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has vastly expanded manufacturing capabilities. Applications for Artificial Intelligence in industrial manufacturing also continually evolve.

The technologies change, but the aim remains the same: Producing needed equipment and goods. That’s why we’re proud to partner with manufacturers.

Next Monday watch for The Evolution of Manufacturing Part II on how technology has changed what it means to work in manufacturing.

–parin

Managing Partner

Image credit: Timeline of Computers: David Packard and Bill Hewlett found their company in a Palo Alto, California garage. Their first product, the HP 200A Audio Oscillator, rapidly became a popular piece of test equipment for engineers.

 

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