Over the past ten years the manufacturing industry has undergone a transformation. Everything from the manufacturers to the distributors and the retailers have had to advance to meet the needs of shifting consumer expectations, global competition, and adapt to new technologies. It hasn’t stopped yet though. Here are three technology trends currently affecting the manufacturing industry.
We are seeing a new dependence on software to aid the manufacturing process, especially cloud computing. Though many businesses were originally skeptical about the trend, continuing improvements to network security has seen the technology become critical to handling logistics, sales support, and a host of other functions. Even businesses that may seem traditional, like woodworking manufacturer Biesse, have embraced technology and place particular emphasis on their suite of software solutions designed to improve the usage of their machines. Corporate software like this can help to automate tasks that not only increases efficiency but reduces overall expenditure.
Modular designs are here. Project Ara, the codename for a new open-source initiative that aims to create highly modular smartphones for developing markets, is scheduled to begin production later this year with a pilot testing in Puerto Rico. Modular design aims to create scalable, reusable models by subdividing current manufacturing systems into several smaller parts to both reduce costs and allow more flexible designs. Toyota, the world’s leading auto maker, recently announced that it will be revamping its manufacturing process. By 2020, half of the vehicles manufactured will be created through this modular approach, where components can be shared across vehicles, improving efficiency and slashing costs.
IoT, or “the Internet of Things,” is not only taking the world of technology by storm, it’s also making waves in the manufacturing industry. IoT refers to the concept of implementing network capabilities into everyday objects. This allows devices to communicate with each other without the direct input of the user. Perhaps the biggest example of this in the consumer space is the recent introduction of the smartwatch. In the manufacturing sector, though, there are high hopes that IoT-enabled devices can help to increase efficiency and productivity, reduce waste and overall costs, and further limit downtime.
The changing labour demographics of the time have required businesses to adopt these new technologies in order to stay economically viable. For manufacturers to continue to produce goods both faster and cheaper, without a reduction in quality, they’ll need to stay on the cutting edge of the latest in technology.