The manufacturing industry is in the midst of another industrial revolution. Although the sector has lagged behind in leveraging the immense data that is generated, it is now reasonable to envision and prepare for a data-driven factory where all the activities are connected through the same information platform.
Customers, Vendors, and Operators will share information on everything driving the product lifecycle. Production managers will access materials on-demand, collaborate with robots, identify the trends from the data warehouse and rely on virtual work instructions.
The following four technology categories are driving the revolution in manufacturing industry:
Internet of Things (IoT)
‘From shop floor to top floor’ integration is an idea that has been the buzz phrase for the past few years. Increasingly, it means expanding the power of the internet to link production machines, sensors, computers, and humans in order to leverage information monitoring, processing, and analysis. These devices provide more precision and can translate collected data into insights that, for example, help to better understand how temperature, pressure, and humidity impacts the performance.
Such information platforms that leverages data and advanced analytics would deliver higher-quality, more durable, and more reliable products.
Advanced Robots & Cobots
The advanced robotic system has become more systematic and efficient, allowing manufacturers to program their robots to perform any task that is imaginable. Also, these robotic systems have become more user-friendly, making it much easier for manufacturers to implement this technology. With the increasing skills gap continuing to impact the manufacturing sector, organisations will be able to keep up with demand with the help of robotics or cobots.
Collaborative robots (Cobots) are also making their way into small and medium manufacturing organisations. These robots are able to work in collaboration with human employees. The Co-Bots can either assist employees or take over repetitive tasks to free the workforce up to work on tasks that require critical thinking and problem solving.
Imagine organising the inventory just by wearing a device and looking at the product packaging! With augmented reality (AR) devices, this is now possible. AR can greatly increase the accuracy and speed in which inventory can be organised and sorted. Smart devices can use AR to instruct an employee on how to fix machines if a qualified engineer is not available. Employees simply follow the text, graphics, audio, and other virtual enhancements superimposed onto goggles as they perform complex tasks. These tools can simultaneously assess the accuracy and timing of such tasks, and notify about quality risks as well. With on-demand support and step by step instructions sent directly to a smart device, it can offer organisation’s entire workforce instant instruction, knowledge, and training.
Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing technology produces solid objects from digital designs by building up multiple layers of plastic, resin, or other materials in a precisely determined shape. Metal 3d printing, faster prints, more precise scans have generated interest amongst manufacturers to reduce costs and innovate more. Early adopters among manufacturing companies are using 3D printing to manufacture parts in small lots for product prototypes, to reduce design-to-manufacturing cycle times, and to dramatically alter the economics of production.