Because of recent technological changes, it has become easier for experts to predict manufacturing trends and the horizon of Industry 4.0. In the near and distant future, the difference is not going to be so much in technology. Still, there will be a significant increase in the number of manufacturing companies using these digital technologies.
The last decade has seen many improvements in different fields and sectors, from the healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry to the agricultural sector. These significant evolutions result from innovations in the primary production industry, from information technology (IT) to advanced production functionalities (industry 4.0).
The good news is, as new manufacturing trends continue to develop and revolutionize production, companies will enjoy unique opportunities for years to come.
In this article, we will analyze the nine most significant manufacturing trends that are currently developing.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) and task automation
Technological innovation in scheduling and automatic process management will also play an essential role in the control and monitoring of machines that are part of the production chain.
Current advances in manufacturing processes are based on improving the capabilities provided by Artificial Intelligence and Process Automation.
These two technologies, mainly, are responsible for taking manufacturing to the next level. In the opinion of experts, they provide three core values: immediacy, scalability, and functionality.
Immediacy and scalability relate to the ability of Artificial Intelligence to automate industrial operations. This makes it no longer necessary to assign entire groups of workers to designated tasks.
With these systems, it is possible to reduce the time required to learn manual operating skills significantly. This leads to a reduction in the time spent on jobs that could last up to several years.
In addition, the evolution of industrial automation systems is developing at an accelerated rate. Manufacturing trends such as this will accelerate even more in the coming years, giving rise to a new generation of professional skills for the productive sector.
Today, some manufacturing companies in the global market are already embracing AI as their data updater. However, the number is expected to increase in the coming years.
So far, these solutions have been shown to make manufacturing industries more productive and efficient.
- 5G and smart manufacturing
Fifth-generation technology is one of the most anticipated manufacturing trends in technology for the coming years.
Mobile communications networks have long suffered saturation problems. In developed countries, the use of 4G is massive, and in developing countries, 3G continues to be used, with similar results.
However, companies cannot rely heavily on these technologies for their operations or provide tools to their workers. In contrast to earlier technologies, 5G guarantees the possibility of exceeding the expectations of consumers and companies in terms of connection capacity, bandwidth, and lower latency time,
The 5G technology, as an essential asset of the global digital transformation, will provide manufacturing companies faster connections as they begin to increase their employment in the areas of centralized monitoring, cloud, sensors, quality control, and other services.
With more coverage and a more stable connection, there will be a more innovative manufacturing ecosystem.
- Internet of things (IoT)
The arrival of the Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionizing all sectors. According to a study conducted by Business Insider Intelligence, the IoT market will grow to exceed $ 3 trillion annually by 2026.
Additionally, it is estimated that in the coming years, manufacturing trends will be upward. As a result, companies around the globe will eventually use more than 20 billion connected devices around the world.
For the manufacturing industry, this innovation implies the transformation of processes and the evolution of materials and the production chain. Therefore, it will allow them to evolve with an increasingly digital business landscape.
- 3D printing technology
Another significant trend in the digital transformation of production is 3D printing technology, also known as additive manufacturing. This technology will allow companies to continue to make prototypes quickly and inexpensively. In addition, it will be a very cost-effective system for product designers to test and troubleshoot their products.
Additionally, it will enable manufacturers to produce items on demand rather than produce and store them.
3D printing technology has already been adopted by the automotive and aerospace industry. Over time, more sectors of industry will benefit from manufacturing trends that employ this technology.
- Energy efficiency
Increasing energy efficiency is a challenge rather than a trend. However, there is no doubt that the new systems involved in manufacturing should and will ensure energy optimization. Achieving this goal is the only way to pursue the sustainability of the industry and the preservation of the environment.
With technological advances in energy analysis, manufacturing industries now have, or could have, complete information related to their consumption and behavior patterns.
In the past, manufacturers only had access to the figures that appeared on electricity bills. With new management systems and consumption analyzers, companies will know instantly how much energy they are consuming.
For this reason, new technologies are being developed that apply the Big Data approach. This allows manufacturers to carry out an energy analysis to reduce consumption, thus improving energy efficiency.
All companies should take good note of this detail to comply with the commitments of the Paris Agreement on climate change so that energy renewal is done in the cleanest way possible.
- Distributed manufacturing
In trends related to distributed manufacturing, raw materials and production processes are decentralized, and the final product is produced in proximity to the consumer.
The process of assembling and packing final products for delivery to their destination presents many drawbacks, but technology is helping to minimize them and maximize their benefits.
Production trends that use small-scale distributed manufacturing enable companies to save on transportation costs, reduce lead times, and increase responsiveness. However, coordinating manufacturing across many different factories will always present diverse challenges.
The more technology that allows several individual factories to be interconnected, the easier it will be to implement distributed manufacturing.
With the aforementioned manufacturing trends and technological advancements becoming increasingly available, distributed manufacturing is becoming a more attractive option for many companies in the manufacturing industry.
This allows flexibility to source the best materials and manufacture products in the location desired by the manufacturer while limiting fleet costs.
- Predictive maintenance techniques
Manufacturing trends that include growing innovations in software, connectivity, and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology and more advanced and efficient methods of monitoring equipment using various performance metrics will be applied in the coming years.
With this technology, it will be easier for manufacturers to understand better how systems work and processes and the time in which they can fail. Additionally, it will allow data to be collected that indicates the best time to carry out maintenance.
The continuing evolution of predictive maintenance will prevent untimely equipment breakdowns and save manufacturers valuable time, money, and resources.
- Commitment to customers
As technologies like 5G increase connectivity, the relationship between companies and customers will be closer than ever. Customers will routinely expect to be actively involved in production processes. In addition, current manufacturing trends indicate that customers are looking to have more and more customization options.
Technology has allowed a much more fluid, collaborative relationship between companies and customers. How effectively manufacturers use these new tools will determine their success.
During these times, manufacturing organizations need to leverage data received from customers to create more value for them. Also, it is crucial to improve the user experience to achieve greater customer satisfaction and repeat business.
- Greater responsiveness
Once again, manufacturing trends in technology is creating the ability to improve performance. This is especially true in the areas of responsiveness and immediacy. To run a large company in such an uncertain environment, reacting quickly to changes and minimizing mismatches is essential to success.
The more technologies such as AI, Machine Learning, and advanced analytics become commonplace in manufacturing, the more opportunities there will be to predict situations like a demand. Thus, companies will have the ability to make instantaneous changes to meet it.
When manufacturers have the ability to change production processes as they go, it is easier for them to adapt to the external factors that are affecting the business and streamline their production.
Manufacturing is one of the largest and most important economic activities in the world. As a result, competition is fierce, and advances are produced at an accelerated rate generating new trends in production processes.
To stay ahead of the competition, it will be necessary to recognize the important manufacturing trends for the years to come and how to harness them in business.
As digital production continues to evolve, the manufacturing industry must keep up with changes. For some, this can be a challenge; however, it is critical to surviving in the ever-evolving competitive global marketplace.