Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Monday, January 30, 2023

Event Highlights the Benefits of Manufacturing Software 

Manufacturers flock to Rhode Island to learn how software can reduce product costs and speed time to market.

Always on the lookout for ways to decrease costs and boost productivity, manufacturing companies are showing increased interest in software-based product development. In order to bolster awareness of the benefits of these software tools, Boothroyd Dewhurst, Inc. (BDI), a Rhode Island-based software company founded in 1983, held a three-day conference this week. The event, now in its 26th year, drew more than 100 representatives from manufacturing companies all over the country.

motion gears by flickr's ralphbijkerAccording to the Warwick Beacon, the RI newspaper that covered the event, BDI uses these gatherings to show participants how its software can help increase efficiency and reduce product costs. The approach is called Design for Manufacture and Assembly, or DFMA, and is used by companies such as Microsoft, Motorola, Whirlpool and Boeing. Some of these DFMA companies were on-hand to extoll the virtues of a software-based design process, namely increased innovation and profitability, and to warn of the drawbacks associated with sending labor overseas, such as language barriers, travel and shipping costs and the risk of intellectual property theft.

A BDI report cited in the article provides some glum statistics. More than 42,000 factories have closed up shop in the United States since 2001, and nearly 32 percent of manufacturing jobs have been lost since 2000. As of 2009, the number of Americans employed in the manufacturing industry was less than 12 million — approximately the same number as 1941.

Many in the industry believe that digital manufacturing tools, like those offered by BDI, have the potential to reverse these downward trends. In a post-event interview, Lynn Manning, vice president of Parker Group, a public relations firm that represents BDI, told the Warwick Beacon:

"Many American companies have been offshoring their manufacturing to China, India and other low-cost countries. These software tools give you the power to take labor and material costs out of manufacturing at home so we become more competitive with overseas. This way, you can afford to keep American jobs at home."

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