Technology is evolving and improving faster than ever. There is no denying that we are in an era of digital transformation. The evolution of manufacturing is forcing organizations to adapt to the digital transformation faster than any other industry. Here are some of the most impactful technologies influencing the evolution of manufacturing.
Digital transformation is the application of digital technologies to fundamentally impact all aspects of business and society
Evolution of Manufacturing: New and Improved Technology Applications
The use of robotics in manufacturing is nothing new; in fact, industrial robots have been in use since the 1950s. The first robots were only able to complete one or two repetitive tasks on factory floors, but they have advanced to be able to complete tasks that involve high precision, speed, and endurance. They are particularly useful for manufacturing processes that are delicate or hazardous, with humans monitoring them remotely.
We anticipate that the use of robotics will continue as robots become even more technical and advanced. Robots will remove the need for humans to work in any adverse environments and eventually will be able to handle operations, manufacturing, and delivery.
Robots remove the need for humans to work in hazardous environments, completing all the same tasks with humans simply monitoring them remotely.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Connected technologies have been in use for much longer than people think. Although the term “Internet of Things,” or “IoT,” was coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999, the concept of smart, communicating, and connected products was first addressed by Nikola Tesla back in a 1926 interview.
According to Statista:
There will be over 30 billion connected devices by 2020.
That number will more than double to 75 billion connected devices by 2025.
Today, we are inundated with connected smart products. From watches to refrigerators, the IoT literally surrounds us and is heavily involved in the manufacturing of the other IoT products we use in our everyday lives. It can be used to monitor the status of robots on the manufacturing floor or gather data that can be utilized for machine learning. As these devices continue to be an integral part of our lives, they can be used in manufacturing plants to report product completions; to call for maintenance, repairs, and service; and to notify management of quality issues.
IoT has the potential to transform manufacturing by significantly increasing productivity while reducing costs. Factories can operate 24/7 with just one person monitoring the machines or with systems set up to notify users of problems. Connectivity also helps pre-emptively detect, predict, and schedule maintenance rather than having to force a machine offline due to unexpected problems.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning
Even just 50 years ago, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning were just part of science fiction movies. The modern AI and machine learning that we understand today are still new phenomena, only really coming to light in 2006. Now AI is a buzzword incorporated in everything from smart speakers to search engines.
Altogether, AI, IoT, and machine learning increase productivity and improve product quality while reducing costs.
In manufacturing, AI, machine learning, and IoT continue to work together to increase productivity while reducing costs. Using AI and IoT together makes it possible for machines to fine-tune production work automatically to ensure manufacturing consistency.
Machine learning will continue to transform the back office by streamlining and optimizing workflows. New tools can automatically handle many administrative tasks like order entry, cash receipts, and invoicing. By allowing machines to take over these tasks, employees have more time to focus on complicated issues that require human brainpower and increase value-added services.
The use of 3-D printing and additive manufacturing will be a huge driving force in the evolution of manufacturing. It was first developed in the early ’80s, but technological breakthroughs have made it more widely available. This digital transformation speeds up production and will change how organizations onboard the production of new products. Instead of managing capacity and equipment, they will begin owning the intellectual property (IP) associated with product designs.
As organizations begin to share more data and IP digitally, manufacturers will be forced to increase their cybersecurity.
This development will force manufacturing companies to purchase the rights to produce a specific amount of goods. Manufacturing companies will use their own 3D printers to create end-use products or create the molds, parts, and jigs necessary to manufacture the products at scale. This will have huge impacts on the supply chain, as fewer physical parts will move between organizations and instead, IP and digital files will be traded and sold. This digital transformation will significantly increase the importance of cybersecurity in manufacturing organizations.
The Need to Manage Data and Analytics
As the digital transformation continues, connected products and tools will produce massive amounts of data. Current business management tools just can’t keep up with the volume and types of data that these new technologies generate.
Traditional business management tools just won’t be able to handle the volume of data that these new digital transformation technologies will generate.
Big data analytics engines will become more commonplace to keep operations running smoothly and to comb through data to provide useful insights. These engines will increase the need for data scientists, who will analyze the data looking for patterns that can guide decisions that improve operations and customer satisfaction. To really benefit from this abundance of data, IT teams will need to be able to quickly provide insights and implement new solutions.
NxRev: Your Partner Throughout Your Digital Transformation Journey
If you are looking to begin (or continue) your digital transformation journey, having a partner that can help you navigate a variety of solutions is a great place to start. At NxRev, we have expertise in all of these technologies and offer both the hardware and software you need to start your journey. We have the latest in:
Interested in learning more about our available products and services, or want to learn how we can help your organization? Contact us.