Today's enterprises are having to restructure and re-engineer themselves in response to the needs of demanding customers, higher quality and lower cost products. In the twenty first century, enterprises will increasingly compete by participating in dynamic, global, virtual enterprises made up of companies and work units. Such enterprises will be value based with suppliers integrated into the product cycle. Rigid, static hierarchical enterprises will be replaced by virtual (extended) enterprises that will adapt to rapid change, creating small batch, high quality products and of a lower cost. Next generation manufacturing systems (NGMS) are required to support such enterprises.
The process industry is witnessing the same pressures as other manufacturing industries, resulting in a greater variety of products, produced in smaller quantities, over shorter product life cycles. The effect is that traditional manufacturing plants are no longer able to deliver the flexibility and adaptability required by next Generation Process Industries. To achieve NGMS characteristics, Process industries are investigating plants, capable of smaller batch production and offering greater flexibility. This presentation will examine the manufacturing issues facing the process industries and the future developments in the process manufacturing systems.