Networked Local Manufacturing

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* Report: Connecting Makers to Markets through Networked Local Manufacturing. FINAL REPORT on the MakerNet pilot project in NAIROBI, KENYA. Anna Lowe with additional authors Jessica Berlin & Andrew Lamb. MakerNet, 2017

URL = pdf

"Cisco, IBM, and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) financially supported the MakerNet pilot project."


1. The Vision:

"Our vision is of millions of sustainable small-scale manufacturing enterprises all over the world, where not just knowledge but know-how is shared globally and openly, and physical things are made close to where they are used. Entrepreneurs and makers are producing items needed in their communities from locally sourced materials, and creating sustainable businesses by doing this. But this is not a return to craft production. This is the fourth industrial revolution and the circular economy, driven by digitally networked local manufacturing.

The manufacturing infrastructure that already exists in so many parts of the world – the informal sector welding shops, the backyard carpenters, as well as the midsize factories and the craftspeople who can fix any mechanical problem – is fully integrated into this global supply ecosystem, and is more competitive as a result. It is supplemented by new additive manufacturing techniques, smaller-scale and greener methods of electronics production, new types of knowledge and skills. Analogue and digital manufacturing technologies combine to enable new methods of sharing knowledge, earning money, and checking quality."

2. From the introduction:

"In 2016, an international group of organisations working on the cutting-edge of technology for development (Tech4Dev), entrepreneurship, and community empowerment came together to found the MakerNet Consortium. Their aim was to develop and test concepts for strategic infrastructure, systems and tools that consolidate and streamline the efforts, expertise and resources of individual makerspaces and makers, and connect makers to existing manufacturing infrastructure and market opportunities in their communities.

A proof-of-concept pilot project in Kenya was conceived to explore business models and digital tools for connecting Nairobi makers and manufacturing capacity (supply) to potential hardware customers in the aid industry (demand). The project was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)-financed GIZ Digital World Program, the Cisco Foundation, and IBM.

This paper is one of the outputs of that pilot project and covers the following topics:

• Description, analysis, and lessons learned from the MakerNet pilot in Kenya

• Insights and analysis on networked local manufacturing, drawing on the prior and on-going work of the MakerNet Consortium on related topics in other countries, such as Ghana, Haiti, Jordan, Myanmar, Nepal, UK, et al.

• Next steps and recommendations for further work

• Research and Mapping

• Digital tools and infrastructure development

• Pilot use cases in further countries and sectors

MakerNet is conceived as a system of makers, manufacturers, tools, business models, supply chains, and markets. Its purpose is to enable local production of supplies that meet humanitarian and sustainable human development demands and aspirations. We call this production approach Networked Local Manufacturing.

Networked Local Manufacturing has the potential to improve the availability of useful products & technologies and therefore improve quality of life, at the same time as creating business opportunities and jobs. It is a route to sustainable industrialisation and delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals. The pilot project undertaken in Nairobi, Kenya focussed on simple medical devices."


3. Objectives of the MakerNet Consortium

"This pilot project was the first step in a long-term mission intended to:

§ Design globally, make locally: Make it possible for anyone, anywhere to share and collaborate on open source product designs that benefit humanity; and for manufacturers close to the point of need to then adapt those designs for local reality and turn them into physical products.

§ Connect makers to markets: Create business models that enable makers, manufacturers, and makerspaces to become suppliers to their communities and regions

§ Grow Industry 4.0: Develop and support the evolution of sustainable models of production and consumption."



Summary & Conclusions

"The MakerNet pilot has demonstrated that locally made products can be economically competitive with imported equivalents even without taking into account the additional benefits such as job creation, improved supply, better tailoring of products to the local market, and the ability to lead to innovation.

A number of the trends in aid delivery fit well with the idea of networked local manufacturing – including moves towards giving recipients greater choice (such as cash programming) and the recognition that one size does not necessarily fit all when it comes to products they supply to beneficiaries. In aid agencies, the frustration with current procurement methods is there but we do not expect to see change happen fast, so it will be necessary to devise structures that can work with current organisation structures and processes – particularly centralised procurement – as well as helping to build the infrastructure for an alternative vision of procurement decisions being taken more locally.

The key to catalysing the market is developing and sharing business models, such that the right incentives exist for different types of stakeholder to play their part. It will be essential to facilitate connections between makers, manufacturers, and markets to avoid the Catch-22 situation of no demand because there is no capacity to supply, and no supply capacity because there is no demand. There are already organisations that can do this.

Many existing projects, organisations, and tools are relevant to some part of the MakerNet concept. We need a focused effort to connect existing initiatives with each other and fill in the gaps between them to enable the promise of networked local manufacturing to be realised.

MakerNet aims to build these bridges between makers, markets, and the other stakeholders in this ecosystem. Our ambition is to bring about a future in which people everywhere can leverage open technologies and systems to realise and share their ideas, and are more able to make and sell their products, use their skills, create their own opportunities, – a future in which people are empowered to create rather than merely consume, and can actively build sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their communities."