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4 Key Changes in Manufacturing Technology

Technology supports and drives innovation. Recent changes in engineering and manufacturing technology have the potential to help manufacturers create better quality goods in less time. Expenses for manufacturers can be reduced by implementing this new technology while also becoming more competitive thanks to greater efficiency. Here are 4 key changes in manufacturing technology that have the potential to be game changers for manufacturing operations:

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3D Printing

The applications of 3D printing are far reaching in most industries. However, in manufacturing technology, the implications are transformative in nature. 3D printing technology (also known as additive manufacturing) can produce solid objects from digital, computer-aided designs. It does this by building multiple layers of resins, plastic, and other materials to form an accurate representation of the digital design.

Some early adopters used 3D printing to decrease design-to-manufacturing cycle types, manufacture components in small numbers for the purpose of product prototyping, and to drastically reduce manufacturing costs.

An example is BAE Systems who used 3D printing to manufacture an injection-molded component for use in a regional jetliner. They ended up slashing costs by more than 60%, bringing down production lead times by more than two months and avoiding retooling costs.

Predictive Analytics

According to Forbes magazine, the use of predictive analytics is a critical manufacturing technology that helps drive future competitiveness. A business’ manufacturing capabilities are only as good as the machinery and materials used. If a piece of high-tech equipment suddenly goes down, production gets completely thrown off until the equipment is replaced or repaired.

An application of predictive analytics in manufacturing is the use of sensors which capture telemetry data to help produce reports. These reports can then be analyzed by the machine operators and engineering team to assess the probability of high-tech equipment failures. They can then arrange for replacement or maintenance before the equipment goes down.

Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT isn’t a buzzword anymore. The use of smart and connected products is a reality in all walks of life and every industry, including manufacturing technology. Boston Consulting Group’s market analysis predicts that $283 billion will be spent on IoT technologies, products, and services by 2020. IoT use cases such as self-optimizing production, predictive maintenance, and automated inventory management already have successful applications in manufacturing technology. These applications are further expected to drive IoT market growth going forward.

An application of IoT is facilitating workplaces where connected devices can communicate with each other. Computerized manufacturing machinery can “talk to each other” and exchange notifications about operating conditions. If a problem is detected, notifications are sent to other networked devices, adjusting the entire process.

Stanley Black & Decker has adapted the IoT in their Mexico plant to monitor the status of their production lines in real time. The monitoring is carried out by mobile devices and RFID tags connected over Wi-Fi.  As a result of this exercise, they were able to optimize their processes. Labor utilization increased by 10%, throughput by 10%, and overall equipment effectiveness by a massive 24%.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing uses the Internet to connect to a network of remote services to store, process, and manage data. A lot of businesses adopted cloud computing a while ago, but companies in the manufacturing sector were wary of security and connectivity issues.

Since cloud computing is more reliable and stable than in the past, a greater number of manufacturers are adopting the viewpoint that any potential risks are mitigated by the potentially tremendous benefits. In 2015, 66% of manufacturing businesses said that plant productivity has improved as a result of the implementation of cloud computing.

A powerful aspect of cloud computing in manufacturing technology is the quick and efficient sharing of data between plants located in different areas. As a result, costs decrease, production speeds increase and businesses can achieve better quality control.

A manufacturing technology where cloud computing and IoT have had a massive impact is machine monitoring. Machine monitoring lets businesses automatically collect data from connected machines, from which relevant stakeholders can get real-time visualization of this data. They can also refer to historical analytics, which can help workers make quicker, more informed decisions.

Applications of Changes in Manufacturing Technology to Enterprise IT

Over the years, IT vendors have proved to be nimble when it comes to integrating manufacturing technology changes to enterprise IT. Some examples are:

Enterprise Asset Management software (EAM) solutions

These help businesses use the internet to manage enterprise assets across departments, business units, and locations. EAM software collects data from devices and machines that are connected to the internet. These solutions help improve both quality control and efficiency by improving the supply chain and testing how certain machine parts are working. As a result, engineers know in advance when machine parts need maintenance or have to be replaced.

Enterprise-grade 3D printers

Manufacturing companies are reaping the massive benefits from 3D printing for rapid prototyping. In an enterprise, 3D printing provides the ability to iterate an object in a quick and efficient fashion. 3D printing is predicted to be a $21 billion market by 2020. Some applications of this change in manufacturing technology are:

  • Supply chains can be activated on demand
  • Businesses can reduce parts inventory and reduce waste
  • Companies can create prototypes of new components in a rapid, cost effective fashion
Cloud-based ERP for the Manufacturing Industry

Moving to cloud-based ERP for manufacturing businesses has substantial benefits. Some of these are:

  • Lower costs as compared to ERP’s deployed on-site and under your control.
  • High levels of security without having to worry about maintaining infrastructure
  • Advanced reporting and monitoring tools which seamlessly integrate with the systems already in place.

Manufacturing technology is going through massive changes. Many technologies that were introduced yesterday will be commonplace in 5 to 10 years. If your organization is late in adapting to these changes, you’ll lose out to your competitors. As a business in the 21st century, just to survive, you must embrace these changes with open arms. It’s imperative that you make a plan for adapting your business processes to take advantage of these changes in manufacturing technology.

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