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IMA Executive News & Views Blog

Developing a Digital Manufacturing and Design (DM&D) Roadmap

by Dimitrios Saranteas

Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC) is an IMA member…

Today, manufacturing around the world is going through its own well publicized 4thIndustrial Revolution. Here in the US, this is defined as Digital Manufacturing and Design (or DM&D) as noted by the DMDII in Chicago:

DM&D is the ability to connect different parts of the manufacturing product life-cycle through data, and utilize that information through a methodology to make smarter, more efficient business decisions.

Much like the home owner that has many options for enabling a “Smart Home”, a manufacturing company is now able to intelligently connect equipment, processes, and people digitally. This results in data empowered enterprises and actionable opportunities across the entire product lifecycle and value stream.

Most importantly, the cost and access to this methodology is unprecedentedly low (and will continue to drop). Like in the Smart thermostat example, there are many DM&D options available to digitally enhance product requirements development, design tools, manufacturing operations, and product usage in the field.  Many of those solutions are being developed in partnership with DMDII.

As you consider a digitally enabled enterprise, remember to treat data and information as you would any critical business asset: measure, document and manage essential attributes such as value, risk and cost.

There are some easy ways to see whether you’re “Right and Ready” for being more digitally enabled.  Take some time to ask self-evaluative questions as it relates to how data is used at your company:

  • What are you doing (or not doing) digitally today?
  • Do you create, receive, manage, and/or transmit product data partially or entirely in digital form? Is your data siloed or can different functions in the organization access it easily?
  • Do your internal machines, people, and processes speak with one another digitally?
  • Are you being asked by your customers or suppliers to be more digitally enabled?
  • Are you losing out on business and market growth opportunities by not being digital?
  • Do you need to train your workforce on digital manufacturing technology?

Like any good roadmap, it helps to know where your organization currently is before heading off on a (digitally) transformative journey. There’s no wrong or right answer in the above. Ultimately the map needs to align with your company’s operational, strategic and growth goals. The technology and solutions will help drive towards those goals; not goals in and of themselves.


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