Manufacturing technology is always changing. Innovations can improve production and increase efficiency, but they also may take time to implement and get used to. Following every trend may not be possible or affordable, so how do you know what new manufacturing technology will have the biggest impact on your business?
Utilizing advanced technology can give manufacturers a competitive advantage and propel business growth. Recent improvements in the field are increasing production while delivering new innovations. In fact, according to the Technology Landscape report conducted by Citrix last year, 2016 is expected to be the year of reinvention for manufacturing.
The key advances in manufacturing technology that are beginning to show the greatest impact include the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and additive manufacturing.
The Internet of Things
IoT technology lets devices automatically communicate with each other by connecting systems, collecting data and examining analytics. This can have the following positive impact on manufacturing:
- Minimized down time because machines can signal when maintenance is required
- Reduced waste due to greater efficiency and streamlined processes
- Increased and expanded data insights and intelligence
- A more seamless integration of systems
- Greater visibility into the supply chain
As reported by Gartner, a technology research firm, the IoT is estimated to connect more than 30 billion machines by 2020, increasing value for manufacturing by $1.9 trillion.
In addition to the IoT, cloud computing is having a major impact on the manufacturing industry. While manufacturers have hesitated to use cloud resources in the past, new manufacturing technology is minimizing those concerns through improved security and connectivity. Although the manufacturing industry has used other alternatives to the cloud, the increased stability makes it an effective option for companies looking to step ahead of the competition.
Taking advantage of cloud computing can result in quicker and easier sharing of data between facilities and manufacturers. It can also reduce costs by allowing for software installation through the Internet. Perhaps the greatest benefit of cloud computing is seen by smaller manufacturers. By keeping advanced manufacturing technology systems in the cloud, any member of the company has the capability to access them without unreasonable added costs.
With the introduction of 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, the industry has taken great strides as a whole. Manufacturers are now able to print equipment components in a variety of materials, reducing down time and increasing flexibility. The ability to manufacture parts and prototypes results in unlimited possibilities for businesses and production. By utilizing additive manufacturing, companies can minimize lead times, shorten supply chains and, ultimately, design more efficient and effective solutions.
In a time when technology is always improving and advancing, it’s important to know what tools will have the most notable impact on an industry. If these three advanced manufacturing technologies are not part of your production process, you may be falling behind your competitors.