Everyday life has been totally changed by technological innovation. The typical person's everyday life today is hardly identifiable from what it was four decades ago. Manufacturing, on the other hand, has seen some of the most dramatic process improvements as a result of technological advancements.
From the days when almost everything was done by hand, modern manufacturing had come a long way. Manufacturers' business models will continue to change as a result of existing and evolving technologies. We take a look at some of the ways this is occurring.
1. The use of 3D printing
Owing to a lack of widespread access to the required equipment, 3D printing was initially regarded as a specialized method. That has changed as a result of new software and hardware technologies that have enabled it to step beyond the confines of a prototype manufacturing company and into the hands of startups and small businesses.
According to one tech research company, 10% of industrial operations will use 3D printing and CNC machining services in their operations. Businesses can manufacture goods and components far closer to the point of purchase by making it possible to print personalized physical items easily and without the need for cumbersome and expensive equipment. This saves money on packaging and inventory.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Leading manufacturers have put a lot of money into the Internet of Things, and it's not going anywhere anytime soon. Over the next decade, IoT devices are expected to develop at an exponential pace. Manufacturing becomes smarter as a result of the Internet of Things, which helps companies to gather vast quantities of data for research, decision-making, and process improvement.
The advent of predictive maintenance as a replacement for preventative maintenance is a good example of this change. Although preventative maintenance relies heavily on scheduled equipment checks at predetermined intervals, predictive maintenance relies on real-time data collected and relayed by IoT devices to decide when maintenance is needed. This improves precision and performance while lowering maintenance costs.
3. Artificial Intelligence
Although the Internet of Things has been a boon to manufacturing, it has also brought with it a new problem: huge data. Hundreds or thousands of data points can be collected every day by each IoT unit. A individual cannot go through all of this data every day and analyze it in order to make decisions.
Machine learning helps manufacturers to evaluate the large quantities of data generated by factory sensors and turn it into actionable information for staff and managers. Machine learning software gathers and simplifies data in a way that even a non-technical worker can comprehend.
Of course, the Internet of Things is only one example of how machine learning is constantly being used. Quality management, output yields, demand forecasting, and market optimization are some of the other fields.
4. The field of robotics
Manufacturing has long been dominated by robots, and this trend will only continue. More than 5 million manufacturing jobs were lost in the United States between 2000 and 2010. Whereas China is often blamed for the loss of manufacturing jobs, the real culprits are robots and automation. Automation resulted in the loss of 17 out of every 20 manufacturing jobs.
Although robots were once only used for complex projects and in remote areas, technical developments have made them smarter, more cooperative, and self-sufficient. It's difficult to imagine a world in which robots don't play an even bigger role in manufacturing than they do now.
5. Apps for the factory and products
The way we communicate has changed as a result of smartphones. Smartphones, which are increasingly designed to resemble minicomputers, have merged conventional phone functions such as calling and SMS with newer functions such as web browsing. They were initially beneficial to customers, but are now proving to be beneficial to producers.
Many manufacturers have built custom applications for their products in order to enhance the user experience and value. There are also mobile applications designed specifically for the manufacturing sector to boost productivity on the factory floor.
6. Use of Social Media
Most producers had little to no interaction with the end-users of their products in the past. If you had an issue with something you ordered, you took it to the retailer, dealer, or local store where you bought it. They'd try to remedy the problem and, if that didn't work, they'd contact the manufacturer on the customer's behalf.