《经济学人》:第三次工业革命

标签:海外连线企业管理IT数字化趋势制造工业流程组织

访客:43441  发表于:2012-04-24 12:47:41

制造业数字化进程不仅会改变传统的产品制造模式,还将改变生产组织模式。


18
世纪下半叶,伴随着纺织业机械化的进行,第一次工业革命在英国开始。先前,几百个织布工挤在一个个织布房舍里费时费力地工作,之后棉纱厂取代了房舍,从此诞生了工厂。20世纪初爆发第二次工业革命,当时的亨利福特已经可以熟练掌控流水线,标志着大生产时代的到来。前两次工业革命在使人们变得更加富裕的同时也推动了城市化进程。如今我们正处于第三次工业革命的进程中,比如发生在制造业领域的数字化革命等等。正如同本期杂志的特别报道所言,这不仅会改变商业,更会触及到其他领域。

许多非凡的的科技成果日趋融合:智能软件,新材料,更加灵巧的机器人,新工艺流程(尤其是三维打印技术)和整个基于网页的各种服务。过去的工厂以快速大量制造相同产品为理念:曾经福特在关于汽车外壳涂漆上说过一句很经典的话,只要是黑色的,深黑浅黑随你挑。但是,随着生产少量多批次产品(即接受消费者定制)的成本日益下降,未来的工厂将会把精力放在处理大规模的消费者定制品的订单上面。届时的工厂可能就不是福特的流水线模式,而更像是一个个织布房舍了。

朝着第三维度前进

传统的制造方式不外乎就是通过拧拧螺丝,点点焊焊把一个个配件组在一起。而现在我们可以在电脑上设计好产品的各种参数,再用3D打印机打印出来,此过程通过喷涂一层层连续的材料逐渐塑造出固态的目标模型。如果要微调各项模型参数,也仅仅是动动鼠标而已。3D打印机除了具有无人值守的特点之外,还能制作许多对传统工厂来说太复杂而做不了的东西。最终这些神奇的机器将可能在任何地方制造出你想要的任何东西,无论是在自家的车库,还是非洲的某个村子。

3D
打印技术的用途之广尤其令人无法想象。比如,3D打印机已经按照预期形状打印出了的助听器和许多军用飞机上用到的高科技配件。同时,供应链的布局也将发生变化。比如,如果一个在大沙漠里工作的工程师需要某种工具,他只要下载工具设计图并点击打印即可,而无需从最近的城市买来。现实生活中可能经常发生诸如,某个工程项目因为缺乏一套设备而搁浅,或者消费者抱怨再也买不到原厂配件,而有了3D打印机之后,类似的尴尬终将一去不复返。

除此之外,该技术带来许多其他重要的变化。比如,比传统材料更轻,更硬,更耐久的新材料的出现。再比如,大到飞机,小到山地车所采用的钢和铝正在被碳纤维所取代;工程师借助新技术可以在更精密的层次上打造零件;纳米技术赋予产品更强特性,促进切口愈合的绷带,更高效的引擎,更容易清洗的陶器便是很好的例子。还可以用经过基因工程改造病毒来生产电池。随着越来越多的工程师借助互联网协作研发新产品,原先的合作门槛正在逐渐降低。当时的福特为了建设规模巨大的River Rouge工厂必须要先有一大笔资金,而与之相当的现代工厂要想起步,除了需要一部笔记本电脑和一颗渴望发明的心之外,没什么其他特别的要求。

就像以往的所有产业革命一样,第三次产业革命也将扮演搅局者的角色。就像当年的纺纱机淘汰掉手工织布机,福特的流水线工人抢了马蹄铁匠的饭碗一样(或者翻译为:汽车隆隆声取代了马的嘶鸣声一样),数字化革命也已撼动了传媒和零售业。很难保证人们看到未来的工厂不会心中打颤。届时,许多工厂的样子不再是脏兮兮的机器旁站着油乎乎的操作工,而将是许多一尘不染机器摆放在几乎空无一人的车间里。并且十几年之后,很多汽车生产商的生产率是现在的两倍。大多数工作岗位也已经从工厂车间转移到附近的办公室,办公室里坐满了设计师,工程师,IT专家,后勤专家,销售员工和其他专业人士。未来的制造业岗位将会要求员工掌握更多的技术,很多枯燥的,重复性的工作将一去不复返:不需要铆钉的产品不需要铆钉工。

此次工业革命不仅会影响到器件的制造流程,而且会影响到制造地点的选取。以往工厂习惯于将厂址选在劳动力廉价的国家,以此来控制劳动力成本。但是劳动力成本因素正在变得越来越不重要:一部499美元的iPad仅仅包括33美元的制造成本,并且最后在中国的组装成本仅仅只有8美元。现在越来越多的海外工厂正逐渐搬回到富裕国家,这不是因为中国劳动力成本正在上升,而是因为时下许多公司为了将工厂建在离消费者更近的地方,以使其对需求的变化变得更加敏感。并且现在很多产品变得如此复杂,以至于最好让设计人员和制造人员在同一个地方工作。波士顿咨询公司认为目前在诸如运输,计算机,金属制品和机械领域中从中国进口的10%30%的产品可以在2020年之前实现本土化生产,此举将给美国带来每年200亿到550亿美元的产值。

新事物带来的震动

虽然消费者面对更好的产品和更快速的配送服务适应起来感到毫无压力,但对政府来说却非如此。政府的本职是保护现有的产业和公司,而不是那些将它们赶尽杀绝的新贵。政府给传统的工厂以大量补助的同时给想把工厂搬到国外的公司设置重重障碍。他们会花费数十亿美元资助那些他们认为将来会叱咤风云的新科技。他们还天真得坚持认为制造业要比服务业更好,就别说金融业了。

以上论断纯属胡扯。制造业和服务业的界线正逐渐变模糊。劳斯莱斯公司已经不再卖喷气式,而是根据每台发动机的使用时间来收费。政府一直不擅长预知胜者是谁,并且当一大批企业家和各种不知名的DIY迷在网上交换各自想法,然后在家里转化为实实在在产品并且从车库发货到全球的时候,政府的预测能力变得更加受限。在此次工业革命正在如火如荼进行的时候,政府应该坚持这么一条基本原则:给技术工人建设更好的学校,制定更明晰的规则,为各种形式的商业团队打造公平的竞争环境,除此之外都交给革命者吧。(经济学人)


The third industrial revolution

The digitisation of manufacturing will transform the way goods are made—and change the politics of jobs too



THE first industrial revolution began in Britain in the late 18th century, with the mechanisation of the textile industry. Tasks previously done laboriously by hand in hundreds of weavers’ cottages were brought together in a single cotton mill, and the factory was born. The second industrial revolution came in the early 20th century, when Henry Ford mastered the moving assembly line and ushered in the age of mass production. The first two industrial revolutions made people richer and more urban. Now a third revolution is under way. Manufacturing is going digital. As this week’s special report argues, this could change not just business, but much else besides.

A number of remarkable technologies are converging: clever software, novel materials, more dexterous robots, new processes (notably three-dimensional printing) and a whole range of web-based services. The factory of the past was based on cranking out zillions of identical products: Ford famously said that car-buyers could have any colour they liked, as long as it was black. But the cost of producing much smaller batches of a wider variety, with each product tailored precisely to each customer’s whims, is falling. The factory of the future will focus on mass customisation—and may look more like those weavers’ cottages than Ford’s assembly line.

Towards a third dimension

The old way of making things involved taking lots of parts and screwing or welding them together. Now a product can be designed on a computer and “printed” on a 3D printer, which creates a solid object by building up successive layers of material. The digital design can be tweaked with a few mouseclicks. The 3D printer can run unattended, and can make many things which are too complex for a traditional factory to handle. In time, these amazing machines may be able to make almost anything, anywhere—from your garage to an African village.

The applications of 3D printing are especially mind-boggling. Already, hearing aids and high-tech parts of military jets are being printed in customised shapes. The geography of supply chains will change. An engineer working in the middle of a desert who finds he lacks a certain tool no longer has to have it delivered from the nearest city. He can simply download the design and print it. The days when projects ground to a halt for want of a piece of kit, or when customers complained that they could no longer find spare parts for things they had bought, will one day seem quaint.

Other changes are nearly as momentous. New materials are lighter, stronger and more durable than the old ones. Carbon fibre is replacing steel and aluminium in products ranging from aeroplanes to mountain bikes. New techniques let engineers shape objects at a tiny scale. Nanotechnology is giving products enhanced features, such as bandages that help heal cuts, engines that run more efficiently and crockery that cleans more easily. Genetically engineered viruses are being developed to make items such as batteries. And with the internet allowing ever more designers to collaborate on new products, the barriers to entry are falling. Ford needed heaps of capital to build his colossal River Rouge factory; his modern equivalent can start with little besides a laptop and a hunger to invent.

Like all revolutions, this one will be disruptive. Digital technology has already rocked the media and retailing industries, just as cotton mills crushed hand looms and the Model T put farriers out of work. Many people will look at the factories of the future and shudder. They will not be full of grimy machines manned by men in oily overalls. Many will be squeaky clean—and almost deserted. Some carmakers already produce twice as many vehicles per employee as they did only a decade or so ago. Most jobs will not be on the factory floor but in the offices nearby, which will be full of designers, engineers, IT specialists, logistics experts, marketing staff and other professionals. The manufacturing jobs of the future will require more skills. Many dull, repetitive tasks will become obsolete: you no longer need riveters when a product has no rivets.

The revolution will affect not only how things are made, but where. Factories used to move to low-wage countries to curb labour costs. But labour costs are growing less and less important: a $499 first-generation iPad included only about $33 of manufacturing labour, of which the final assembly in China accounted for just $8. Offshore production is increasingly moving back to rich countries not because Chinese wages are rising, but because companies now want to be closer to their customers so that they can respond more quickly to changes in demand. And some products are so sophisticated that it helps to have the people who design them and the people who make them in the same place. The Boston Consulting Group reckons that in areas such as transport, computers, fabricated metals and machinery, 10-30% of the goods that America now imports from China could be made at home by 2020, boosting American output by $20 billion-55 billion a year.

The shock of the new

Consumers will have little difficulty adapting to the new age of better products, swiftly delivered. Governments, however, may find it harder. Their instinct is to protect industries and companies that already exist, not the upstarts that would destroy them. They shower old factories with subsidies and bully bosses who want to move production abroad. They spend billions backing the new technologies which they, in their wisdom, think will prevail. And they cling to a romantic belief that manufacturing is superior to services, let alone finance.

None of this makes sense. The lines between manufacturing and services are blurring. Rolls-Royce no longer sells jet engines; it sells the hours that each engine is actually thrusting an aeroplane through the sky. Governments have always been lousy at picking winners, and they are likely to become more so, as legions of entrepreneurs and tinkerers swap designs online, turn them into products at home and market them globally from a garage. As the revolution rages, governments should stick to the basics: better schools for a skilled workforce, clear rules and a level playing field for enterprises of all kinds. Leave the rest to the revolutionaries.


评论(3)

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    1. 黎争 C-B的时代

      回复[0] 2012/04/24 14:07

    1. 刘杰 以后想要汽车就打印一个即可,太牛了!期待。

      回复[0] 2012/04/24 13:59

    1. 岳占仁 《经济学人》这篇讲到的制造业数字化,多大程度上与中国的制造业相关呢?

      回复[0] 2012/04/24 13:03

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