Sunday, January 18, 2015

De-centralized manufacturing and smart factories in Korea

According to Business Korea, the Ministry of Trade Industry and Energy has announced plans to increase the number of smart factories in Korea to 1,000 this year.  The article noted that "On Jan. 15, the ministry announced at its annual report to the President that it will build 700 smart factories this year, and increase the number to 4,000 by 2017 and 10,000 by 2020. The purpose of the project is to further sharpen the competitive edge of the manufacturing sector by means of information technology, Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence. Test beds will be set up and key technologies such as 3D printing will be developed to this end.The ministry picked 10 main fields for the utilization of 3D printing, including dental medical equipment, smart molding, personalized articles, 3D electronic components, transport machinery parts, power generation components, 3D design services, and 3D content distribution services. Base technologies will be developed by 2017 before commercialization by 2020 and the development of advanced techniques starting from 2021. It is going to work on 15 strategic 3D technologies in the equipment, material, and software sectors, too."
The question in my mind after reading this report is whether the Ministry's plan adequately takes account of the sweeping effects that 3-D printing and the decentralization of manufacturing will have, in Korea and globally.   I'm reading Jeremy Rifkin's new book The Zero Marginal Cost Society, which offers a broad and interesting perspective on this question.

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