2017 isn’t about new disruptive technology in manufacturing: it’s about current manufacturing trends the industry is finally embracing.
The rise of smart equipment and automated processes are only beginning to transform the manufacturing sector.
The global market for smart manufacturing is projected to reach $392 billion by 2020, with a compound growth rate of 19.8 percent from 2015 to 2020. Manufacturing trends indicate a revolution that will define how we understand the industry going forwards.
Here are today’s most vital manufacturing tech trends.
From sophisticated computer-controlled equipment to enterprise-focused planning packages, it’s evident that manufacturing is a digital and data-driven industry.
Computers, mobile devices, and technological solutions are becoming more streamlined, powerful, and cost-effective. These manufacturing trends are growing the industry from a linear model towards an enhanced, efficient, and error-free space thanks to gathered, analyzed, and repurposed data.
The advantage of data is not limited to the production process, but is fundamental to enhancing efficiencies and accuracy in purchasing, shipping, quality control, and acquiring tools for machinery.
Files can now be saved and obtained in real time from the cloud with smart devices. Business processes, in turn, are only more growing leaner, cheaper, and generally better for business owners, employees, and consumers alike.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he’s not at all worried about mass unemployment in America.
Meanwhile, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) estimates that hundreds of thousands of jobs will be replaced by automation. In a paper featured in USNews, NBER stated that roughly three workers have been eliminated for each individual industrial robot. So, clearly the employment effects are more visible throughout the manufacturing sector.
Despite the prevalence of robots and automation tech in the industry, there will be one major next step required for these manufacturing trends to take hold: human touch.
Digital software developer Telogis mentioned that technology lacks the ability to understand subtle communications that only humans are able to execute. These communications include eye contact, hand signals, and other uniquely human behaviors.
While automation boasts a significantly promising future in the manufacturing industry, human workers will still be a vital component to ensure safety, quality, and effectiveness of future products and business processes.
Cleaner and Greener
The evolution of manufacturing is creating not only an increasingly safer, but a cleaner industry.
Earlier this year, Procter & Gamble (P&G) announced its commitment to eliminating all its manufacturing waste from over 100 of the company’s global plants by the end of 2020.
The world’s largest consumer product manufacturer said that it will achieve the zero-waste goal by ensuring that “all incoming materials are converted into finished product,” recycled internally or externally, or reused in other ways.
“In 2017, we announced that by 2020 all of our manufacturing sites would send zero production waste to landfill,” P&G shared. “Since P&G began qualifying sites as zero manufacturing waste to landfill, 56 percent of its global production sites have achieved this milestone.
“Plans are now in place to complete the remaining facilities over the next four years. This means eliminating or beneficially reusing about 650,000 metric tons of waste, equivalent to the weight of nearly 350,000 mid-sized cars that would typically go to landfills.”
Technology will not only enable a safer and more efficient future for the manufacturing industry, but simultaneously a more eco-friendly one.
Maturity of 3D Printing
IDC research projects the global spending on 3D printers to grow from $13.2 billion in 2016 to over $28 billion in 2020. The research explained that 52 percent of manufacturers—only 38 percent in 2014—foresee the technology being integrated into high-volume production in the next three to five years.
During 2016’s Tech Leadership Conference, futurist and computer scientist Ray Kurzweil said that improvements in 3D technology have made it more powerful than it was a decade ago.
Kurzweil—dubbed “the restless genius” by The Wall Street Journal—foresees that the technology will continue advancing within manufacturing businesses as it “move[s] into an open-source design and production environment.” He added that with manufacturing’s technological journey comes massive change, that will translate into revolutions in human health and biotechnology.
The manufacturing industry has caught on to technology that is making businesses more effective and efficient. It’s only a matter of time, though, until the next trend disrupts the industry.
JenBTech is a freelance blogger with specialization in business IT, IoT, VR/AR, AI and the like. She has attended several tech conferences here and abroad. She is working on launching her own website soon where she can share the latest news, findings, and research in the tech world.