Bottlenecks are bad for business – and are all too common. Suppose, for instance, that a delivery of seats at an automobile production line is delayed by several hours. If sufficient reserve seats are not on hand, the entire line may grind to a halt.
Although such problems are an age-old scourge, they are set to become far less likely thanks to the advent of production environments that rely on digital information. “Tomorrow’s factories will be characterized by three elements that will make their information flow flexibly, yet seamlessly,” says Zvi Feuer, Senior Vice President for Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software at Siemens. “The systems will be extensively networked, individual elements — meaning machines and robots — will be mobile, and they will be able to reconfigure themselves.”