The digital age has no signs of ceasing development as more and more companies invest in it, resulting in better technology to trump competitors that develop the same technology. The manufacturing industry invests on newer technologies to improve their performances and reduce operational costs.
Many manufacturing businesses wish to invest in newer technologies to gain a competitive edge against their competition, and below are some tech trends that they will spend on in the 2020s.
The continuous development of technology allowed people to wear gadgets on their bodies to aid in their work by providing essential work-related data to the worker. Wearable technology or smart accessories can track a worker’s health, location, or biofeedback, depending on what wearable the individual uses.
The manufacturing industry’s use of wearables results in improved efficiency and productivity in the industry. Using wearables reduce the difficulty of using handheld devices in the workstation since wearable tech means hands-free gadgets.
Using wearables allow employees to stay focused on their activities, obtain additional information on their work, or deliver remote orders to other workers, allowing for a seamless workflow. The information wearables provide also include ones that improve workplace safety.
Wearables with sensors can provide data to monitor the movement of employees to prevent workplace accidents due to poor visibility among workers and the safety afforded to them can extend to the customers. Due to connection to the cloud and a sensor from a wearable, employees can check the quality of a product by checking an electrical component to ensure that it’s welded at the right temperature.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
Wearable technology allows for the introduction and integration of assistive technologies like the Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality to forge efficient collaboration between man and machine.
The collaboration afforded by augmented reality devices like electronic glasses results in vital information and computer-generated graphics displayed on a worker’s field of vision. The essential info provides real-time assistance when performing a task. Trainees can also benefit from AR by allowing them to train with equipment or shown how tasks are done to prepare them for future work.
Virtual Reality software, however, interfaces with designs generated by computers, allowing for modifications to a product before it is even rolled out of a production line. VR technology also allows for training by immersing the trainee to a work environment similar to the actual environment.
Without AR and VR, employees usually miss out on several manufacturing errors that reveal themselves post-process.
Additive manufacturing employs 3D printing technology to allow for greater efficiency and productivity by limiting human error while ensuring faster and cheaper production of parts. Many companies seek new and innovative ways to improve their work and lessen the chances of wasting money and raw materials.
3D printing lets manufacturers print parts quickly and cheaply as they only need limited supervision from humans. 3D-printers need only one operator per machine to initiate an automated process of printing products.
3D printers also allow for limited production of prototypes that manufacturers can manipulate to improve upon their design. Traditional manufacturing lines produce products en masse, which result in more prototypes produced than 3D-printed ones; however, having more prototypes result in more expenses than the limited production one can have with 3D printers.
With technology continuously improving while aimed towards automating various processes, it becomes increasingly possible to integrate robots in many businesses. 3D printers are good examples of automated equipment, but bending machines and laser cutters are also currently automated.
Automated solutions optimize the material flow, improve the efficient use of machines, and increase the reliability of the work process. Automated machines accelerate the workflow without compromising the quality of their products.
Once, artificial intelligence is considered a thing for the future, but the continuous development of technology has seen it integrated into various households. AI can finally turn the lights in a household on or off, make orders to restock the refrigerator and others.
AI lets automated solutions function 24 hours a day to mass-produce items in the production line continuously. Since many manufacturing businesses are suffering from expertise shortage to man their factories, using AI and robots can solve the lack of sufficient human resources.
Rise of Smart Factories
Using robots and AI and developing the technology further can lead to the eventual rise of smart factories. Smart factories are production facilities that rely on technology-driven approaches in the manufacturing business. Highly digitized and connected through the internet, smart factories eventually lead to fully automated factories.
Smart factories, however, are still in the development stages.
Artificial intelligence and automated solutions are essential for smart factories, which is the result of the fourth industrial revolution. Smart factories create a network of hardware and software to establish coordination between the essential components.
Smart factories eventually optimize the production flow and smoothen the integration of different machines from different suppliers to a company’s current infrastructure. The network will require 5th generation wireless technology to function efficiently.
5G will eventually act as the unifying technology that will bring together all the necessary networking capabilities to manage the massive information flow involved in manufacturing businesses. 5G technology allows for better connectivity to the cloud than what 3G and 4G can provide. Until companies fully appreciate 5g, enough to further the development of the technology and increase its use, smart factories will stay in the development stage. Fortunately, 5G is seen to make a widespread appearance in the 2020s.
The trends in the manufacturing industry lean towards making the industry safer, smarter, and automated to adapt to the changes affecting the workforce. Manufacturing companies face a shortage of manpower that has the patience to do repetitive tasks. Both the old and new generation of workers also commit errors that hamper productivity.
Should manufacturing companies invest in the new technological trends in the 2020s, they can produce higher quality output than their initial capabilities while increasing productivity by allowing factories, when employing AI, to function 24 hours nonstop.
About the Author: Sean Felix Lim is an author for ten years now and has contributed a lot of his works with industry analysis research for different modern technologies manufacturing companies. He is also a professor and currently teaching Economics.