1. Frame of reference
Previous three industrial revolutions happened due to the introduction of radical ideas, let it be, mechanics electricity or an introduction of the programmable logic. The instigators of these revolutions have now become foundational to the numerous manufacturing processes. Similarly, in the recent times, Internet and advanced computational processes are becoming the upcoming platforms to expand the concurrent manufacturing sector. With such evidence of change in the current scenario and the exponential rate of acceptance in the industry, fourth industrial revolution is bound to take place in the next 20-30 years .
Current scenarios focus solely on the product development. However, it’s not just about the end-product anymore. As the US economy is moving towards becoming a service economy, the products need to be designed placing the customers at the pedestal. This is further amplified due to an ever-high level of competition between firms. For this purpose, an inverse goal-oriented decision based design (IGODBD) method is proposed to facilitate the movement from the design to the manufacturing unit quickly. Another condition that will enable the manufacturing company to become a global leader will be how sustainable the processes involved are. Keeping these two in mind, the goal will be on innovation to provide a maximum utility to maximum customers. In the age of globalisation and interconnections between countries, the manufacturing company will also be required to reach other countries, either for personal technological advancements from other developed nations or to help create a technological revolution in other developing nations. Various research obstacles and mind-set changes will be required to make the manufacturing enterprise a global leader by 2030, which will be explained in detail in their corresponding sections. As displayed in Figure 1, our focus in on changing the manufacturing process instead of bringing new ideas or modifying the product. This is the challenge that how do we continue to satisfy our wants in the way we already are but in a more sustainable way.
The dream of every manufacturing enterprise in future is to automate its manufacturing process. This is possible with the application of IGODBD method since it enables the interconnection of different manufacturing stages so that an information flow can be generated and we can feed and receive information from these stages. This is similar to Internet of things which has been defined as the interconnection via the internet of computing devices in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.
Another significant change in mind-set is required. For the past century, the companies have been solely focused on profit, while considering the people and the environment as not important factors. Another significant change in understanding and appreciating the overall impact is required. For the past century, the companies had been solely focused on economic profit, while not considering the people and the environment as important factors. However, this perception needs to change with the continuous depletion of the natural resources. The company’s objectives need to be synonymous with
sustainable development, where an equal preference needs to be given to people (social), planet (environmental) and the profit (economic) (figure 2).
In this issue of sustainability assessment by a publication from University of Oklahoma, sustainability is when the three spheres overlap . Each of the sphere is given equal preference. In another definition, “sustainable development is a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institution change are made consistent with the future as well as present needs .”
Under the shadow of sustainable development, the manufacturing company needs to focus on sustainable manufacturing. As identified by MIT Sloan Management Review, the goal of sustainable manufacturing is to promote manufacturing processes and manufacturing products that minimize environmental impacts while maintaining social and economic benefits . To prepare for the inevitable, i.e. depletion of resources, the manufacturing enterprise needs to target its research to bring about this change.
2. What is a successful company?
In the era of industry 4.0, where each manufacturing stage is connected to the next one, the manufacturing will become completely automated. This is an area of research every enterprise is trying to accomplish. At the same time, the company will not be able to succeed with the use of carbon-based fossil fuels as they are coming to exhaustion. Therefore, additional research on making the manufacturing more sustainable.
The benefits of using these two methods are :-
- Quick decision making
- Personalized products due to automation
- Efficiency of the energy utilized
- User satisfaction
- Limited dependence on other industries due to its sustainable nature
Even though “success” is a relative term, a company that can tie all these would be prepared for the technology changes to come in 2030.
3. Inverse Goal-Oriented Decision Based Design (IGODBD) Method
Going from an initial design idea to the manufacturing process is a tedious process because the decision maker is unequipped to make decisions on what the process variables need to be. This process currently is done through a process of trial and error. With Internet of things, each manufacturing stage will be interconnected to the next so that information can flow from one stage to the other. Anand Balu in reference  has defined this as horizontal integration. This is facilitated with this Inverse Goal-Oriented Decision Based Design (IGODBD) method. This method also allows for an integrated design of the product, process and material.
3.1. Compromise Decision Support Problem (cDSP)
The cDSP is a mathematical construct at the core of this method. The fundamental assumption here is that the models are not complete, accurate or of equal fidelity . This is why there is a distance between the aspiration space, where we would like to be, and the feasible space, where we currently are (figure 3). This distance is known as the deviation and the cDSP construct reduces the deviation function to bring the solutions closer to the designer’s aspirations .
There are four key words in the cDSP formulation – Given, Find, Satisfy and Minimize. The “Given” captures all the information available to the designer. The information regarding the system variables and deviation variables is contained in “Find.” The “Satisfy” contains the system constraints, system goals and variable bounds that determine the feasible design space and the aspiration space. Finally, “Minimize” consists of the deviation function that quantifies the deviation of the system performance. These key words help define the problem and forces the designer to make the problem concise .
3.2. Decision Based Design Framework
In the context of industry 4.0, the role of humans should be the high-level ones . For example, “start the rolling process for a rod of X characteristic.” The decision based design framework facilitates the solution space exploration to find robust solutions for such commands and the actual manufacturing process will be automated. This framework is designed so that the cDSP can be formulated .
When the end goal has been decided, the control and noise factors that affect the end goal are identified in the Processor A and communicated into the cDSP, processor F. Following that a comprehensive literature search is carried out to find the theoretical and empirical models available and then transferred to the Processor F. For many complex systems which have not been previously studied, response surface and surrogate models are developed using simulations programs. These are then communicated to the Processor F. The cDSP helps in creating different design scenarios (G) and explore the solution space (H) to find the most satisficing solution that the human designer can make decisions from.
3.3. Formulation of IGODBD
IGODBD method can be applied to any manufacturing chain which has a goal. A cDSP needs to be formulated n/2 number of times where n is the number of manufacturing stages.
Also, to apply IGODBD, we need a goal to start with. The arrow at the top starts with the end goal; this is why this is an inverse approach. There are numerous stages that transform the input material into the end of product (figure 5).
Step 1: The cDSP is formulated for the n+3 stage using the information available for manufacturing stage n+3 and by incorporating the sequential relationship the stage n+3 has with n+2. The system variable identified through the cDSP are the operating points for n+3.
Step 2: At first, we find out the design calculations for manufacturing stage n+3. Then using the sequential relationship of n+3 and n+2, design results for stages n+2 and n+3 are found. These design variables are then communicated to the cDSP for Step 3.
Step 3: Similar to step 1, cDSP is formulated for the stage n+1 using the design set points from n, n+2, and n+3. cDSP is exercised to find the design set point for stage n+1.
Step 4: Similar to step 2, using the information from n+1, which includes the information from n+2 and n+3, design results for stage n are found.
Identified by the author, this four-step method is generic and can be used for other processes where the different stages are connected and there is an end goal. Design set points for the whole system can be found using this method.
3.4. Research questions
The IGODBD method is an efficient way of allowing an information flow between the different manufacturing stages. It also makes the process of decision making in these stages easier. Using these two features of IGODBD, the global manufacturing enterprise can put itself ahead of the game in the numerous manufacturing processes it carries out. Still, numerous improvement need to be made to the IGODBD method to increase the efficiency and to make it more applicable to different manufacturing processes. The idea is also to be able to make IGODBD comprehensible and implementable to anyone across the globe.
cDSP right now can only explore solution space for the maximum of three conflicting goals.
Another area that is relatively complex to study and implement is developing surrogate models when empirical models are not available. This generally requires very high level of knowledge to generate.
Lastly, IGODBD method can only be used for manufacturing processes. However, there are other important decisions made by companies as well, for instance, how should the profit be allocated for different sectors of the company.
4. Sustainable manufacturing
Since the first industrial revolution, manufacturing has always been the sector that employs the most number of people. The manufacturing sector of United States in comparison to the world is 18.6%, which puts the US second on the ranking after China. Employment in the sector is expected to increase . If an effort to tie manufacturing and sustainability is not done, this industry will come to a halt soon. In the past, the resources have been readily available, therefore, the basic costs for the raw materials have been low. However, due to the depletion of these resources, the cost of these raw materials is expected to increase. Through sustainable manufacturing, this problem can be solved as the companies can sustain themselves. To provide a focus in this article, only alternate energy sources and composite and clean materials as two method of sustainable manufacturing will be used.
4.1. Alternate energy sources
Alternate energy sources include shifting to cleaner forms of energy, such as solar, wind or nuclear energy replacing the use carbon-based fossil fuels . Lots of work has been done in this area. However, the theoretical ideas have not been applicable in the manufacturing enterprises. In fact, the use of fossil fuels is continuing to increase. With the current change in the presidential power, President elect Donald Trump has offered to bring back the jobs in coal mining . There is an immediate need to find ways to shift from a fossil based psychology. Shifting to a cleaner energy requires a long run mind-set.
Companies prefer the fossil based resources because of their availability and high energy generated to weight ratio. This is the reason why the sustainable energy is unable to compete in the market.
4.2. Composite and green materials
Another area of research is in the field of developing composite and green materials, that not only consume less energy and waste for production but also can be manufactured in a more environmentally friendly manner. These can facilitate assembly, recycling and reuse with reduced waste emission and energy consumption . Again, considerable research has been done in developing such materials, yet their demand from the manufacturing plants have not increased.
4.3. Patentable area of research
Even though alternate energy sources and composite and green materials are not new topics of research, their application into different fields is missing. This opens new areas where a manufacturing enterprise can issue its patents and gain technical prowess. This will allow the manufacturing enterprise to lead in product design and manufacturing in the year 2030.
5. Context – Rod Manufacturing Process Chain
Producing a rod consists of numerous intermediate manufacturing stages. To generalize, a simplified rod making process is introduced.
In this process (figure 6), the molten steel is first casted into a billet, which is then hot rolled to produce a rod of certain kind. In this process, the output of one stage is the input for the next. When modelling all the stages, we require an information exchange between these stages. Manufacturers generally know what kind of a rod they want but they are unaware of what process variables they need at each stage to reach the identified goal, for example, to minimize ovality or to maximize throughput. Decisions made at any stage affects the product. The IGODBD method facilitates in determining the right combination of these design variables to reach the end goal. In the context of IOT, the two stages – casting and hot rolling communicate to transfer the information.
Both during casting and hot rolling, the temperature of the steel is elevated to very high temperatures. Currently, this is done in the furnace using coal. However, the use of Uranium could be used to take the steel to high temperatures. Some research is also being done on producing molten steel using electric arc furnace. This steel is made using the scrap and disposed iron.
Also, depending on what the use of the rod will be, other material could be used to produce the rod as well. Some high-performance steel and advanced steel alloys are being researched on to make the manufacturing process less tedious and more energy efficient .
With the new age of Industry 4.0 rushing in, two methods have been introduced so that a design and manufacturing enterprise can adapt to these changes – IGODBD method and sustainable manufacturing. Both methods are equally important for the enterprise to become successful in 2030.
IGODBD method facilitates the human designer to go from product design to production by creating an information flow between the different manufacturing stages. This interconnection between the stages leaves only the high-level decision making for the humans, such as turning the process on or off. Everything else is automated.
A focus on sustainable manufacturing is also necessary as the resources soon are prone to depletion. A sustainable method is needed so that the manufacturing enterprise can become independent and continue to produce goods and services even when many resources are exhausted in future. The two method of bringing sustainable manufacturing are alternate energy sources and composite and green materials.
Numerous research questions have also been posed in this paper that people in academia can address. The common theme among these questions is to find ways to make these two methods posed more accessible and less tedious to implement. Once these questions have been answered by the company, it will well be on its path to success.
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