The Rise of the Internet of Goods: A New Perspective on the Digital Future for Manufacturers >> HOME


Building a Manufacturing Platform

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The third component of the Internet of Goods is the concept of a manufacturing platform. As seen in the digital world, platforms can be either open or proprietary. Startups can create them or anchored by large decentralized multinational manufacturers. Manufacturing platforms will host a variety of design, production, and distribution services, riding on the packet-switched network for moving goods and components. The key feature is that they provide a structured environment in which businesses and individual users can interact with each other.

We see the beginnings of manufacturing platforms. Xometry, launched in 2014, offers a proprietary platform for accessing production capabilities nationally, including various 3D printing technologies, computer numeric control (CNC) machining, and sheet metal fabrication.

Similarly, Carbon is creating a platform for its fabrication machines. Carbon collects data from all the machines that it leases and uses it to upgrade and accelerate algorithms. Then the machines receive over-the-air software upgrades, greatly accelerating their production capabilities without the need to change equipment. “The more people use our technology, the better it becomes,” says DeSimone.

At the other end of the scale, Amazon, of course, offers a distribution and sales platform for sellers. GE’s Predix is being positioned as a secure and scalable platform for industrial applications. And in April 2018, Siemens launched the Additive Manufacturing Network:

“… a new online collaborative platform designed to bring on-demand design and engineering expertise, knowledge, digital tools, and production capacity for industrial 3D printing to the global manufacturing industry.”

This is much like the early days of social networks when it wasn’t clear whether the winner was going to be Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, or some other site. In this case, however, there is no need for the winning platform or platforms to come out of the United States since manufacturing knowledge is distributed around the world.