As new technologies emerge, machinery manufacturers benefit from exciting new opportunities that allow them to reimagine their processes and operations. However, it can be difficult to decide which types of technology are worth investing in and which can wait. We’ve put together a list of the top 5 trends that will be necessary for machinery manufacturers to navigate in 2020 if they want to leverage the power of Industry 4.0.
1. Recognizing 5G’s Impacts on Smart Manufacturing
Smart factories are becoming the norm in the machinery manufacturing landscape as more and more manufacturers incorporate connected devices into their factories as a way to leverage technologies like artificial intelligence, automation, and the Internet of Things (IoT). These devices are capable of sensing their environments and interacting with one another, creating more streamlined and efficient operations.
With 5G looming near, manufacturers need to be able to adapt to the network effectively if they want to continue to enjoy the benefits of smart factories. Offering a wide variety of benefits for manufacturers, 5G networks provide new opportunities with high capacity, wireless flexibility, and low-latency performance. It will be essential for manufacturers to prepare for 5G if they want to keep utilizing connected tools and leveraging data to guide their operations.
2. Advancing Automation and Robotics Capabilities
Automation and robotics thrive in smart manufacturing environments. The trend toward collaborative manufacturing spaces has played a significant role in the increased adoption of automation and robotics technologies. These technologies have become more popular in even small and medium sized manufacturing companies as they allow for incremental investment, enabling manufacturers to automate one process at a time.
As machinery manufacturers struggle to find qualified skilled labor, automation and robotics technologies help fill the gap. Collaborative robots are often being purchased at or below the annual cost of the average manufacturing worker, allowing factories to supplement their workforce with effective technology. The increase in availability of plug-and-play, pre-engineered peripherals like application kits are also making these technologies more attractive.
3. Reducing Downtime with Predictive Analytics
Did you know that a single hour of downtime can amount to $100,000 in loses? Fortunately, using data, AI, and predictive analytics, manufacturers can reduce planned outages by as much as 50%, and in some cases decrease unplanned outages by 15%. That’s because predictive analytics empower manufacturers to better understand how their equipment works and why it fails, allowing them to prevent downtime.
There are many variables that cannot be accounted for such as changes and disruptions in the market or geographic challenges. However, manufacturers can reduce their risk by making smarter and faster decisions with predictive analytics. Predictive analytics can help manufacturers make more informed decisions about machine maintenance and supply chain optimization, which in turn impacts the quality of goods, delivery times, and overall customer experience.
4. Increasing Edge Computing and Cybersecurity
Solving the issues of connecting data points requires edge computing. With edge computing, more of the processes for encryption and machine learning are done on the device, rather than in the cloud, and security is managed centrally instead of by an individual user. Edge computing allows you to do some processing on the individual device and then move data quickly to provide answers back to the factory.
Edge computing uses less bandwidth while reducing processing latency. It can also offer improved cybersecurity through its vendor-updated security features and by keeping certain types of private data off the cloud. Cybersecurity is a critical concern for smart factories, and the importance of secure systems will only grow as 5G connectivity approaches. Edge computing’s increased cybersecurity capabilities makes it more attractive for manufacturers.
5. Embracing 3D Printing Technology
The 3D printing industry is expected to grow to $23.9 billion in 2022 and $35.6 billion by 2024, according to the 2019 Wohlers Report. A few key developments in this space are fueling this growth such as advances in software and the introduction of new materials. These advances will continue to streamline prototyping while providing incredible future potential for mass customization.
As 3D printing continues to evolve, it will transform the machine manufacturing industry in a few key ways:
- With automated assembly, factories will be able to seamlessly integrate multi-part assemblies using a combination of both plastic parts and 3D printed metal parts.
- Manufacturers will be able to encode information into the surface texture, offering a bigger data payload than the typical serial number.
- Improved software and data management enables improved system management and part quality, which will ultimately lead to better outcomes for end users.
- Modern university and training programs are teaching designers to tap into 3D printing technology to make better use of it in the factory.
Gutenberg Technology supports machinery manufacturers in replacing bulky and outdated printed product and tech manuals with more useful mobile documentation that can easily be updated in real-time. Want to learn more?