This month marks ASSEMBLY magazine’s 50th anniversary. To celebrate that event, here are some predictions for the future. Share your own comments . . . and don’t forget to check back here in 50 years.
Predicting the future is never easy. Even polished prognosticators can end up looking profoundly foolish. However, ASSEMBLY magazine has correctly predicted the future several times in the past.
For instance, back in the mid-1960s, we accurately predicted that small computers would one day be used to gather and disperse manufacturing intelligence on the plant floor. We foresaw a time when robots would be widely used on assembly lines. And, we warned readers about the coming affects of globalization and urged manufacturers to “prepare for new world markets.”
Many of us probably won’t be around in 50 years, when ASSEMBLY celebrates its centennial, to find out how accurate or absurd the following predictions turn out to be. But, here’s my personal guess at what manufacturers will be talking about in 2057. Please feel free to add your own comments or predictions.
*Floating factories in the middle of Lake Huron and Lake Erie redefine “offshore manufacturing.”
*Self-assembly is commonly used to produce thousands of different items that were once joined together with individual parts and subassemblies. Products are assembled from the bottom up using molecular manufacturing in nanofactories.
*Teleportation technology allows engineers to travel back in time and visit classic assembly lines such as Ford’s Highland Park, MI, plant in 1914 and North American Aviation’s Inglewood, CA, plant in 1944.
*Mechanical fasteners are collectors’ items, just like the glass insulators that were once commonly used on telegraph and telephone lines. They have been replaced by intelligent fasteners that feature shape-memory materials activated by force fields.
*Automakers build assembly plants in the arctic region of Canada because of its strategic location between key consumer markets in Asia, Europe and North America. To reduce construction costs, all structures are built from a mixture of ice and sawdust.
*Chicago once again becomes the world’s No. 1 producer of bicycles, telephones, televisions and toys, just like it was when ASSEMBLY debuted in the late 1950s. However, the city’s booming assembly lines are now staffed by android robots remotely monitored by engineers floating in space.
*In-home assembly is commonly used to create small objects on-demand, such as cameras, pens and small musical instruments. Self-replicating machines equipped with 3D printers are used to create a wide variety of customized metal and plastic products.
*Contract manufacturers use hybrid airships equipped with state-of-the-art assembly lines. These fly-by-night operations allow them to easily tap into low-cost labor anywhere in the world and build products while in transit to key markets.
*Typewriters are the latest must-have retro fad. Modern technology allows consumers to use invisible ink and electronic paper.
*Engineers read ASSEMBLY magazine via a hologram image that floats several inches in front of their eyes. It’s visible because of a chip embedded in each subscriber’s head. Pages are “flipped” using brain waves.
To see what everyday life may be like 50 years from now, check out this interesting Web site: http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/2057/2057.html