Last week Lockheed Martin unveiled the factory of the future at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California. It’s a fully digitized, easily reconfigurable space of 215,000 square feet in which automation and virtual reality figure prominently to ease the challenge of building cutting-edge warfighting systems fast and affordably. But the new factory may be something more than that: a model for what American manufacturing must become, and how the federal government can help it to get there. Lockheed Martin has figured out that digital engineering is the future of manufacturing, and is investing heavily in transforming its business to embrace the new technology. It isn’t hard to figure out why the Skunk Works innovation hub is an early beneficiary of Lockheed’s investment, but the larger point is that whether companies are in pharma or semiconductors or energy, this is the direction they need to head if they want to still be thriving at mid-century. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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