Embrace Additive Manufacturing
Much has been written about advanced manufacturing in the past few years. From 3D printing to the Internet of Things, there are opportunities and challenges for companies and industries in embracing new technologies. The 2013 study by McKinsey & Company, Disruptive Technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy, identifies twelve technologies that it considers “could drive truly massive economic transformations and disruptions in the coming years.”
Two of the technologies included among the twelve are 3D printing and the Internet of Things. Both are potential game changers for the home appliance industry. AHAM members and guests will have the opportunity to hear from experts in these fields during the association’s 2015 annual member meeting: Advanced Manufacturing and Design. The meeting will be held in Washington, DC, April 26-27.
John “Jay” Rogers, president, CEO and co-founder of Local Motors, a next generation car company that is changing the way cars are designed, built, and owned will provide his take on advanced manufacturing at the AHAM meeting. Founded less than four years ago, Local Motors is home to over 60,000 car design concepts, 13,000 community members, 20 full time employees, 1 production vehicle, the Rally Fighter, and 1 vehicle co-created for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Local Motors is the first automotive co-creation community, and the first company to produce an open source vehicle.
Clearly, 3D printing already offers manufacturers of consumer products the ability to reduce the design and manufacturing cycle with rapid prototyping. Employing 3D printing in the manufacture of finished product could offer additional opportunities. And of course, challenges come with such opportunities. How would such manufacturing techniques be addressed in the development of safety and performance standards? What happens if a consumer wants to manufacture an electrical product, or a replacement part?
Some of these topics will be addressed at the AHAM meeting by Alex Chausovsky, the primary analyst covering the subject of 3D Printing, also known as additive manufacturing, at IHS, an AHAM Supplier Division member company. Alex has over eight years of experience covering subjects that include manufacturing, machinery production, rare earths and industrial energy efficiency.
As I walked through CES in Las Vegas this year, I was struck by the number of home appliances on display. Connected appliances have been a subject of innovation by AHAM members and a focus of AHAM standards work now for several years. AHAM was responsible for helping to point out to the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the energy savings and environmental benefits of smart appliances that can connect to the grid as well as a home network environment. The benefit of such features is now rewarded by the ENERGY STAR program for major appliances.
AHAM’s work has continued by assisting EPA in developing test procedures to verify the ability of an appliance to receive a signal from the grid. And AHAM has developed common command standards for major appliances operating in a networked environment with other products to assist software developers in network design. This year AHAM common command work will focus on providing specific appliance information for other standards being developed in a smart grid and home network environment.
But disruptive technologies are not the only area where home appliance manufacturers must focus in order to delight consumers. A special session during the AHAM meeting will focus on the intersection of technology, innovation and demographics. Dr. Joseph Coughlin who heads the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) AgeLab will provide insights from research his team has undertaken on better understanding the needs of an aging population in their home environment.
If you are an AHAM member, you won’t want to miss this informative meeting on advanced manufacturing as well as the current issues the industry is engaged on and the chance to visit with your elected representative on behalf of the appliance industry. Not a member? Let’s take care of that so you have a seat at the 2015 meeting.