Technological advancement has long driven the pace of manufacturing. Today, most factories are hubs of advanced machinery, churning out goods more efficiently than was possible in the past. However, as technology advances exponentially, manufacturing continues to evolve. Many emerging tools have the potential to revolutionize the manufacturing industry changing both how products are produced and how manufacturing companies operate.
Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics are already helping manufacturers create high-quality products quickly. In the future, a manufacturing company’s success may relate to its research and development investments, as customers move business back to factories with advanced manufacturing capabilities and away from factories competing on price alone. With even more integrated technology on the horizon, Germany, China and the United States are positioned to become the biggest exporters of technology-intensive manufactured goods by 2020.
Though advancements will certainly bring new business to cutting-edge companies, new manufacturing technologies come with challenges, as well. South Central Pennsylvania manufacturers need to be prepared to take advantage of these tools while managing their risks. Here are a few of the advanced technologies you can expect to play a significant role in the future of manufacturing.
Manufacturers already employ artificial intelligence in their production processes. In combination with the Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as machine sensors, AI provides manufacturers with opportunities to improve factory operations and product quality. With the ability to refine performance through machine learning, which requires no specifically coded instructions, AI has near limitless potential.
Common uses for artificial intelligence in manufacturing include detecting defective products, optimizing plant efficiency and assisting with materials science discoveries.
Automation and Robotics
Automation in manufacturing has increased gradually over many years. In the near future, advanced robotics may allow many manufacturing facilities to operate even more autonomously. Some manufacturing companies have experimented with “lights-out” factories, in which manufacturing robots operate without any regular human input or on-site presence.
While most factories won’t go fully autonomous yet, advanced robotics may allow companies to produce more efficiently and staff smaller teams with more specialized skills.
Predictive Machine Analytics
Most manufacturers already use sensors and other devices to collect data during production. In the future, manufacturers may use predictive analytics to make better use of data. These computer systems will connect to manufacturing machinery to monitor critical processes in real time and predict malfunctions before they occur.
As more companies come to rely on interconnected sensors and devices to power predictive analytics, they’ll also need to improve their cybersecurity. If you’re thinking about implementing predictive analytics, keep in mind that many inexpensive sensors lack the security necessary to protect your network. Quality over quantity tends to produce the best return on investment in this area.
3D Printing Technology
3D printing allows you to transform multiple designs into physical objects quickly using only one piece of machinery. Today, 3D printing plays an important role in prototyping and product design. As 3D printers grow more advanced and less expensive, the prototyping process could grow more efficient, even allowing designers to interact with the printer directly designing and printing simultaneously.
In addition to use in prototyping, 3D printing technology will also find use in the manufacture of highly customized products, since they allow manufacturers to run slightly different designs with little input. If you produce products in small volumes, 3D printing could complement your business model.
What Advanced Technologies Mean for Manufacturers
Today, advanced manufacturing technologies are making an impact on the industry, leading to higher profits, increased productivity and better results for customers. To ensure continued growth, manufacturing companies need to start investing in new technologies now taking advantage of the systems that make sense for their unique businesses.
Besides implementing new technology, manufacturers will also need to invest in training, research and security. Finding highly skilled staff will become essential as automation takes over simple and repetitive jobs. By 2025, U.S. manufacturing companies will need 3.5 million skilled workers. Whether you train current staff or hire workers with specialized knowledge of robotics, computer science and engineering, a well-equipped team can help prepare your company for success.
Turn to MANTEC for Technology Solutions
Advanced technologies give manufacturers new and exciting opportunities for growth. However, implementing these technologies successfully will take careful planning and hard work. If you need assistance preparing for your company’s future in manufacturing, MANTEC can help. We provide South Central Pennsylvania manufacturers with affordable innovation and smart technology services that deliver a high ROI. Contact us today to learn more about our services.