Like all industries, the manufacturing sector is in the midst of a technological revolution. From the cloud to automation to big data, recent advancements in information technology are helping manufacturing companies improve their plant productivity, their customer relations and their bottom line.
Yet, technology encompasses a lot of ground. Some up and coming trends have true capacity to change the shop floor. Others are less helpful. That said, over 1/3 of manufacturers anticipate a boost in profits through the improved use of technology over the following year.
It is therefore critical for manufacturers to investigate technological advancements with the greatest potential upside, or risk being left behind.
Which technology trends have the greatest potential for manufacturing companies? Here are the 4 that will have the greatest impact in 2017.
Computer Aided Manufacturing
People often confuse automation with robotics. However, in the most advanced manufacturing settings, a combination of computer assisted production and a skilled, autonomous workforce create real time improvements that impact the bottom line.
By utilizing preconfigured software applications that define batched manufacturing requirements, companies are able to improve reliability, reduce errors and execute projects more easily. Use of automated processes in manufacturing enables delivery of products to market within shorter timeframes, leading to greater business opportunities, reduced costs and heightened profitability.
By embedding smart sensors in machinery, artificial intelligence enables failure monitoring and prediction in real time. By identifying potential areas of failure before catastrophic collapse, companies are able to reduce downtime and maintenance costs. Maintenance activities can be scheduled on an as needed basis, allowing for longer, more accurate run times. Moreover, by stopping production before a true mechanical failure occurs, repairs are often less costly and time consuming. Artificial intelligence helps ensure production schedules remain on time and that inevitable mechanical issues have less impact.
Even the simplest manufacturing environments involve complex interactions between production activities. As a result of this complexity, diagnosing and correcting process flaws can often be complicated and time consuming. However, by utilizing big data, unanticipated correlations can be discovered and improved upon, leading to greater opportunity for reduced costs and increased profits.
Big data allows upper management to aggregate and analyze previously isolated data and inputs to reveal important insights. By using big data, manufacturers can better their production process, improve sales and customer retention and develop more targeted marketing efforts.
Manufacturers are always looking for new ways to streamline operations and improve productivity and profitability. Cloud computing plays an important role in meeting those goals.
By using cloud-based systems, manufacturers are consolidating sales and marketing efforts, developing, prototyping and launching new computer aided production paradigms, collecting and benefiting from analytics (See big data above), and revising product offerings more quickly than ever. The cloud provides an opportunity to grow computing capabilities without costly investments in infrastructure, physical or technical.
Technology is rapidly changing the manufacturing industry in numerous ways. As a result, making strategic IT investments is essential for continued growth. Aggregating different strategies in diverse operations – while difficult – allows for the greatest returns in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.
Contact SRI Infotech to help you determine which technological innovations will best serve your manufacturing business.
Case study: Manufacturing Efficiency Through Technology