Manufacturing has long been a hub of innovation in the business sector. It’s been the driver of things like robotic automation, the assembly line, and much more. Click here to learn about 6 of the latest innovations in manufacturing that will soon change the world.
While many people worry that the 12.5 million manufacturing jobs in the U.S. are threatened by technology, some have seen that the losses are plateauing. With the need for people to monitor the systems and machines that produce, modern manufacturing hasn’t done away with the worker yet.
Here are 5 innovations that have helped to shape manufacturing as we know it.
1. 3D Printing
With the advent of 3D printers, people are able to run small manufacturing firms out of their basements and garages. For a fairly small investment, designers and prototypers can turn their ideas into reality in ways never possible before. 3D printing has put the means of products into the hands of more people than ever.
Despite recent news drama around 3D printers, it still takes skill in engineering to understand their potential and how they work. Printing and prototyping at home still cost money and is limited in size and scale. If you’re building scale models of housing developments and large buildings, it’s likely you’ll have to print your models in pieces.
While 3D printing won’t revolutionize industrialized manufacturing, it will allow for product concepts to hit shelves faster. If you can shorten the process of working out the kinks in a design or concept, your products can improve quickly and you can explore multiple options easily.
For more examples of how these principles can be applied, check out what this company has been doing.
The internet of things is still a concept being understood by manufacturers and the public alike. If there’s one thing the consumers are most excited about in the modern state of consumer products, it’s the ability to network their gadgets. Even if they rarely take advantage of what those opportunities offer, the potential is inspiring sales.
IoT in industry can help consumers by giving feedback and alerts to when products are damaged or need service. Before something malfunctions and causes distress for its owner, the manufacturer can be notified. This can lower customer service costs as well as reducing waste.
Other more nebulous concepts involve the relationship inside of an interconnected factory. When all of the equipment in the factory is networked, critical decisions can be made by smart machinery. If a defective element is introduced at the start of the manufacturing process, systems can be halted before that defect reaches a critical point.
Machinery will be spared from damage and waste of resources will be prevented. As the whole process is engaged in an exchange of information, the system protects itself and maintains itself through regular updates.
Since robots were introduced into the manufacturing process, they’ve been set to perform duties that humans tired of easily. The repetitive and strenuous tasks on an assembly like those that humans tired of easily were taken up by robots and improved efficiency immensely.
Today, robots are able to do more than pick up, move, and drop objects. They have dexterity and memory that allows them to avoid mistakes and perform more delicate tasks. With the help of artificial intelligence, they can telegraph problems, generate solutions, and make changes on their own.
Robots can provide a safer working environment for humans by taking up jobs in dangerous working situations. Instead of driving dump trucks at mining sites or near dangerous volatile chemicals, the work can be done by robots. Through remote controls, drivers can be remote operators, safe from harm.
When robots are equipped with sensors, they can provide feedback to improve working conditions for themselves and their human counterparts.
Adjustments can be made to increase efficiency and lower the number of delays in the manufacturing process.
4. Improved Speed and Lower Margins of Error
Automated technology has been important to understanding how to improve speed and efficiency in manufacturing. Companies can optimize workflows, make decisions before they impact the chain of production, and more easily maximize inventory.
Integrated IT systems can work across geographical distances to share data and allow faster communication and easier collaboration. With predictive accuracy, the conditions in monitoring can be improved. Companies using modern manufacturing technology have seen productivity skyrocket in recent decades.
By automating equipment, productivity can be increased without increasing staff costs. While some workers worry about automated systems eliminating jobs, well-managed manufacturing facilities can actually increase growth. They can produce at a higher rate with humans managing multiple automated “workers” at the same time.
Lower costs and better quality control is a boon to profit margins and will please both end users and producers alike.
5. Data Analytics
The amount of data produced by manufacturers and consumers alike is growing at an exponential rate. As data is produced in increasingly granular ways, it’s become difficult to keep up with it. Thankfully there are systems in place to make sense of it.
Automated data analytics have allowed companies not only to collect massive amounts of data on their user bases but also to find new ways to use it. By quickly processing data, changes in the supply chain can be accounted for immediately. Customer support can respond before problems arise and all stakeholders can be protected before conflicts come up.
Everyone is growing accustomed to the intuitiveness of networked devices and they’re expecting the same from manufacturers. Data analytics can decrease costs and the amount of downtime for damaged or worn elements in the system. If you need to make changes to your process, all that data can help you to measure your options quickly.
Modern Manufacturing is Exciting
With so much development in modern manufacturing in recent years, there are so many new techniques and applications to be discovered. With the help of modern manufacturing, we’ll see medical supplies and important tools created more quickly and easily than ever.
If you’re looking to maximize profit for your small business in ways beyond technology, check out our guide for more tips.