The success of the manufacturing sector relies on constant evolution of the processes involved, utilising new equipment, technology and techniques to find optimal efficiency gains. The exponential growth of technology, in particular, remains as true today as it did 50 years ago and the production landscape is changing shape faster than ever before.
Keeping pace with developments allows your business to remain a constant and relevant force in the market place. With that in mind, we’ve listed what we believe to be the key trends in the manufacturing industry and what you need to focus on for your manufacturing plant in 2018/19.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
The need to increase efficiency, reduce costs, improve safety and incentivise product innovation are just some of the challenges facing manufacturers who are considering implementing the Internet of Things into their operations.
IoT enabled equipment will allow manufacturers to maximise the lifespan of their technology without disturbing the output. With lower levels of maintenance planning, equipment downtime and maintenance costs, it provides a number of essential advantages in an increasingly competitive market.
Enhanced connectivity will dramatically change how manufacturers capture and use key data. In turn this will provide stronger insights into the supply chain and inventory processes. Optimising production in real-time will enable businesses to become more efficient and limit wastage output.
Otherwise known as smart manufacturing, Industry 4.0 has been labelled as the 4th industrial revolution. The use of advanced manufacturing technology right across the production chain provides vast improvements on processes, enhancing efficiency and making the factory floor safer for employees. The ability to monitor and analyse assets more closely ensures it is possible to constantly tweak and evolve the level of output.
The implementation of Industry 4.0 provides a number of advantages for manufacturers, including increased productivity, faster reaction times to customers, the creation of new services and product lines, as well as improved delivery to market. With the right framework in place and the critical business areas addressed, smart manufacturing opens up extensive and exciting new possibilities across almost every sector.
Collaborative robots are already in place in a number of factories in a wide number of industries. However, technology never stands still and the evolution of these robots means lightweight and agile versions are set to become more common place in the manufacturing sector.
Cobots are being designed to be more sensitive to respond to human interaction and reduce the level of risk involved in working more closely together. For example, built in sensors can detect the presence of a human and reduce the operating speed the closer the human gets to the machine. Cobot’s can also control the speed and force being applied and instantly stop when an obstacle is encountered, significantly lowering the impact density.
While virtual reality has made great strides in the past decade, experts have always felt that augmented reality offered even greater opportunities. The blending together of the real world with advanced computer generated visual aids may still be in its early stages but interest from the manufacturing sector is rapidly gaining pace.
For example, the use of wearable technologies connects workers to a goldmine of information and data to help optimise job performance while increasing safety. AR could be implemented on assembly lines, skilled training, maintenance, support services, quality assurance and automation.
At one time this sort of technology may have seemed light years away from being used in real time environments. This is no longer the case with AR actually in use in a number of facilities right now. As the technology improves exponentially, so will the myriad of ways it will improve the manufacturing sector.
The use of 3D printing technology is becoming more common place, helping to introduce efficient and cost effective practices. Additive manufacturing allows for the prototyping, tooling – and on occasion – the production of applications used within the manufacturing process.
3D printing enables manufacturers to reduce the large inventories of spare parts required to respond quickly to customer orders. By being able to produce the part without large stock levels adding to their storage space costs, response times are maintained, while being more cost effective and maintaining the integrity of the equipment supplied.
Using additive manufacturing processes to create prototypes and tooling moulds increases operational efficiency while also lowering costs. Rather than running up huge costs and taking months to produce, 3D printing enables this to be produced within a matter of days.
To find out how we can help you keep pace with the latest automation and robotic technology for your facility, contact our automation consultants who are always on hand to quickly respond to your questions, and provide detailed answers based on your current requirements. They can be contacted on 01223 499488, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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