Technological innovation happens all around us all the time – and it can be very difficult to keep on top of it all so you can find the best solutions for your particular business.
The digital age and the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, brought about by connectivity and the Internet of Things, means there are endless innovations coming to market all the time – so how do you know where to begin? What would be best for you and your brand?
To help you sort the wheat from the chaff, we’ve counted down some of the top technologies that are having a positive impact on the manufacturing industry right now, revealing how they could help you and your business today. Which will you prioritize first?
Product lifecycle management software manages the entire lifecycle of a product, from inception to design, manufacturer, service, and disposal of the finished item.
It brings together people, data, processes, and business systems to help improve efficiencies, reduce time to market, improve product quality, reduce prototyping costs, identify sales opportunities, maintain operational serviceability, and reduce environmental impacts at end of life.
These systems can also help you cope with the increasing complexity and challenges of bringing new products to the fore in what is now an incredibly competitive global marketplace.
We’ve all seen the headlines and have been told countless times by the media that the robots are taking over – but is this any reason to worry?
In manufacturing, robotics can be used for a wide variety of different tasks, helping to automate more repetitive jobs, reduce errors and improve accuracy, allowing manufacturers to focus on the more productive parts of their business model.
Benefits associated with robotics in manufacturing include greater efficiency since machinery can work continuously, allowing for a constant flow of production. Flexibility is also key, with software-controlled robots able to be reprogrammed as and when required to introduce design changes without having to alter the infrastructure of the production line.
When it comes to production technology, 3D printing is up there at the top, helping to reduce design to production times, allowing for greater production flexibility, reducing manufacturing lead times, and simplifying the production of prototypes and small runs of product lines.
If you’re looking to really speed up the prototyping process, 3D printing can prove particularly useful, as it’s inexpensive and quicker, finishing the necessary parts in a matter of hours, so design modifications can be made far more efficiently than before.
Virtual and augmented reality
Research from PwC, published in 2019, suggests that these technologies have the potential to add $1.5 trillion to the global economy by 2030 – so prioritizing virtual and augmented reality now could prove particularly fruitful for manufacturing companies.
Benefits associated with adopting this kind of technology include identifying unsafe working conditions, helping with the repair and maintenance of machines and equipment, supporting quality assurance and identifying product inefficiencies, and minimizing errors and production downtime.
The Internet of Things
It’s all about interconnectivity these days and the Internet of Things is driving this, with physical objects fitted with sensors, software, and processing abilities to exchange data with other systems and devices over communications networks. From a manufacturing perspective, adopting fully connected manufacturing operations can help make your business more efficient, supporting automation and improving accuracy, productivity and allowing you to streamline your functions. Digitalization can also help reduce manual processes and entries, thus driving down the risk of human error.
It also allows for predictive maintenance to become commonplace, so you no longer have to worry about finding out what the problem is if something breaks down, how to repair it and how much it will cost. It also reduces the amount of downtime you have to face, helping to save you money and allowing productivity to continue.
Monitoring the performance and function of your machinery, you can then create a baseline, spotting issues with your equipment before it takes place. Maintenance can then be scheduled before something happens, making your business operations far more efficient.
In the face of global competition, it’s essential that you keep up with demands for faster delivery times and greater production levels – which cloud computing can certainly help with.
This is where internet connections are used to store software and information for businesses, with benefits including greater reliability, cost savings, scalability and centralized management.