Digital Revolution is now breaching the walls of the manufacturing industry as it continues to disrupt media; financing, consumer products, healthcare, and other sectors. Manufacturing is not about huge plants and long assembly lines anymore. Now it’s all changed, and digitalization has unlocked a new wave of performance improvement opportunities.
Digitization gives an instant boost to productivity, allowing projects to move faster and manufacturers to hit more aggressive deadlines. Manufacturers will be able to rapidly move from design to floor and back again as changes come through from the engineering team. Digitization has made it possible to leverage the wealth of data hitherto locked in production equipment and improve their reliability, performance, and flexibility.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning
A machine’s ability to learn and adopt intelligent human behavior is not a new advancement. It has been a decade since Deep Blue (IBM’s supercomputer) beat Kasparov (the greatest chess player in the world at the time), forever changing the relationship between man and machine. Today, these advanced algorithms are transforming the way the manufacturing industry collects information, performs skilled labour, and predicts consumer behavior. Smart factories with integrated IT systems provide relevant data to both sides of the supply chain more easily, increasing productive capacity.
Additive manufacturing / 3D printing
Additive manufacturing was actually developed in the 1980’s but has picked up more significant interest in the last few years. It covers any and all processes involved in printing a 3-dimensional product, the reason it’s commonly referred to as 3D printing. Additive manufacturing includes a technique called cold spraying, which involves blasting metallic particles through a nozzle at high speeds, binding particles together to form shapes. This creates a part by building materials layer by layer through the control of a computer.3D printers will continue to change the manufacturing landscape by creating more efficient ways to manufacture custom parts and goods.
Driving the demand for cloud computing is the need to bring more speed, scale, and accuracy to manufacturing firms’ operations. Cloud-based computing uses network-connected remote services to manage and process data. Life in the cloud will gain momentum, but security concerns must be continually addressed. Companies are increasing use of this technology across various geographic locations to share data to make better business decisions. Cloud Computing helps reduce costs, improve quality control and shorten production times.
AR and VR enhancement
Simulating factory floors, designs, machines is invaluable to manufacturing industry. The first time in centuries manufacturing can now experiment without much cost involved. This gives AR and VR such importance in the manufacturing industry.
AR transforms how information is consumed by overlaying digital content and analytics onto the real world. Most manufacturers, or those working in the sector, have encountered some form of virtual or augmented reality in recent years. Whether it is quirky start-ups or large-scale global brands, we are set to see more of this technology incorporated into existing processes and products to enhance the overall experience.
We will continue to see new companies emerge, identifying innovative ways of adopting it, while established organizations will mine their business to uncover areas of improvement.
Digitization has been the game-changer in the manufacturing industry because the next frontier is not just about optimizing the production of a given product; it is also about shortening the time-to-market of ever faster-changing and more segment-specific products. Indeed, the explosion in data and new computing capabilities—along with advances in other areas such as artificial intelligence, automation and robotics, additive technology, and human-machine interaction—are unleashing innovations that will change the nature of manufacturing itself.