When it comes to manufacturing
technology, we’ve already run the gamut from the Flintstones of the
stone age to the Jetsons of the space age. Sci-fi inventions that seemed
quirky in the Jetsons shows of the 1960s are now reality: robot maids,
push-button appliances, holograms, digital diaries, work computers with human
personalities, wireless house-control systems, mechanical pets, and clones.
And there are more
amazing things on the horizon. Innovations like drones, 3D printing,
artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) have been
steadily developing along their own, albeit sometimes parallel, paths. But as
these technologies mature, it’s looking more and more like they will converge into
an industrial “toolbox” that can make a far greater impact on the manufacturing
process than any of them could have separately.
- Digital transformation will accelerate. We’re
already seeing autonomous drones
and human-robot collaboration.
For instance, drones with autonomous navigation capability can be used to
inspect equipment in the field or even take inventory in large warehouses by
reading electronic inventory tags. See the AU presentation “The Factory of the Future . . .” 1
- IoT – The internet of things is a system of
interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects and
people that have unique identifiers
(UIDs). The UIDs enable data transfer over a network without requiring
human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. IBM describes it in “The
Internet of Things delivers the data . . .” 2 Embedded sensors or actuators in
machines and physical objects are used to collect data.
intelligence – Machines can be “taught” to stop production of an inferior
product before it’s even made, a process explained on ManufacturingGlobal.com.3 They can also suggest solutions to
increase responsiveness and manufacturing efficiency through scalability and
simulation and steering. As the amount of data that manufacturers produce
increases, they need a way to analyze and use it, or it’s not of much use. Manufacturing.net has a superb
forward-looking article on this.4
intelligence can manage massive amounts
of data and even give insight into new business opportunities.
- Cyber security – Threats from cyber criminals
continue to cost businesses big dollars in technology spending. As a company’s
digital footprint grows, so does its exposure. Manufacturers – and most
businesses – are seeking new ways to
secure their operations.
- 3D Printing – Also referred to as “additive
manufacturing,” 3D printing creates a physical object by layering – adding –
material based on a digital model, rather than the older technology of cutting
away – removing – material to create an object. Rapid prototyping using polymers and powdered metals, ultrasonic
welding and metal casting are already taking place. With the use of technology,
manufacturing is becoming better, stronger, faster and less expensive. Wharton School
revealed interesting insights on this through its interview with Richard
D’Aveni in “How 3D printing is transforming mass manufacturing.” 5
- Blockchain – By allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied,
blockchain technology was originally the underpinning of the digital currency Bitcoin.
As a September Blockgeeks article describes, the technology
community is now finding other types of digital value for this shared and continually reconciled ledger (updated
in blocks of 10 minutes) for financial transactions and other “things” of value.6 You don’t have to know how
the blockchain works to use it, just know that its records are public and
verifiable and not located in a central location where it might be hacked.
- Increased partnerships
and collaboration. The demand for making products faster and more economically
has resulted in collaborative efforts
among established manufacturers and smaller operators. Whether it’s financial
investment, connected BIM
workflows, access to Internet Protocol, or agreements to
share resources, partnering with congruent businesses brings knowledge and skills together in
a cost-effective way.
- Workforce education
– Keeping up with these trends is tough when digital skills are a
scarce resource. Forward-thinking manufacturers are investing in building a workforce of the future. There is increased
investment in internal digital training and external, using focused experts
found in private business (ie. Applied Software in-person training or LiveLab Learning) and universities.
it’s not time to retire – Jane! Turn this
crazy thing off! Jane!! – it’s time to embrace the remarkable technology sweeping
through the manufacturing industry. If you’d like guidance negotiating the maze
contact Applied Software. The Applied
Manufacturing Technology Group stays current on the latest developments and the
software that drives the industry. Partner with them and become empowered to
transform your business.
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- 1 “The Factory of the Future: The Industry 4.0 Reference Factory”; AU presentation, November 2018.
- 2 “The Internet of Things delivers the data. AI powers the insights;” IBM Watson Internet of Things, 2018.
- 3 “Top 10 manufacturing trends for 2019”; Manufacturing Global.com, December 2018.
- 4 “IoT Becomes IIoT . . . and It Is Changing Everything”; Manufacturing.net, November 2018.
- 5 “How 3D Printing is Transforming Mass Manufacturing,” Sirius XM interview and podcast; Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, December 2018.
- 6 “What is Blockchain Technology? A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners”; Blockgeeks.com, September 2018.