My professional life began in earnest in the 1980s at the very same time that the Just-in-Time (JIT) revolution emanating out of Japan was really beginning to hit its stride. Borne out of the vaunted Toyota Production System, JIT rocked manufacturing industries large and small and gave rise to new modes of competition that remain as potent today as they were 30 years ago.
A cornerstone of JIT was ‘batch of one’ production, an innovation that resulted in low inventories, faster factory throughput, and for obvious reasons, stronger business results. Alliteratively speaking, JIT was a hit.
I offer this by way of explaining why I think we may be on the cusp of another major paradigm shift in the world of production, this time through a process known as Additive Manufacturing (AM).
Over the previous 5 years or so I watched as ‘the maker revolution’ sprang to life in garages and sheds and workshops around the world. I saw, too, how phenomena like ‘rapid prototyping’ were radically changing the design […]