Innovations in technology have always found their way into the manufacturing industry. The industry readily welcomes these innovations to facilitate the production of products that the general populace can use. These innovations also allow manufacturers to experience lesser disruptions like what they experienced during the pandemic.
The innovations that the manufacturing industry adopted allowed companies to increase productivity, reduce human intervention, and increase their competitiveness in the market. Here are some of the innovations that the manufacturing industry adopted through the years.
Industrial Internet of Things
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) brings the capabilities of the Internet of Things (IoT) to the industrial scene to improve productivity and help manufacturers streamline processes within the production facility. Both technologies connect devices to the internet. But the IoT focuses mainly on making the lives of ordinary consumers and homeowners more convenient. On the other hand, IIoT focuses on improving efficiency and safety in the factories.
Aside from increasing production and enhancing safety, the IIoT also performs real-time monitoring, predictive and proactive maintenance, and cross-facility analysis. It integrates different technologies to ensure the production facility operates properly. These technologies include big data, automation, machine learning, and sensor data.
Additionally, IIoT also allows managers to monitor inventory by obtaining data from RFID-tracked assets and collating it with the market demand. The assets are the products the facility manufactures for the company. This allows the company to easily know if it needs to increase production to meet the demand or reduce production to avoid flooding the market with the product and drive down its price.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are invaluable for the manufacturing sector since it increases productivity while reducing the cost of manufacturing products. Manufacturing plants use AI to combine data and analyze it. The analysis allows companies to gain insights that help them make informed decisions in the future.
On the other hand, ML allows these companies to see fluctuations in the market’s supply and demand. With this data, the companies can schedule equipment maintenance in between these fluctuations to avoid disruptions in the supply of the products.
Additionally, companies can also use AI and ML to automate production using collaborative robots or a cobot robot. These robots are ideal for environments where they work with humans since they can sense their surroundings and the people working with them.
Big Data Analytics
Big data in the manufacturing industry includes all information or data collected in all production processes, including data collected from the operators, equipment, and devices. Big data analytics involves examining the data collected by manufacturers to discover correlations, patterns, and insights it can use to improve productivity and increase safety during the production process.
The technology currently used allows manufacturers to obtain the data quickly and analyze it. These companies can also use the data they analyze to adjust the production process to streamline it. Streamlining allows them to reduce operating costs.
Companies typically integrate big data analysis with artificial intelligence and machine learning through the industrial internet of things to ensure the production process runs smoothly.
Another innovation that the manufacturing sector readily embraced is virtual reality (VR). Using VR allows companies the streamline the process of product design since it does away with creating prototypes for an upcoming product these companies will offer. It allows companies to see potential issues on the product even before these companies manufacture it. But this necessitates the creation of realistic VR product models by engineers and designers.
Once the companies have solved these issues, they can also use VR to simulate the assembly line. Simulating production allows companies to deal with any safety issues as well as streamline the production process.
Additionally, VR and augmented reality (AR) also guide employees through the manufacturing plant in case they need to retrieve something. It also allows them to readily see the areas they need to work on if something breaks down in the factory.
VR can forestall any disruptions in the manufacturing industry that may emerge with the lack of skilled workers to fill jobs. The number of unfilled posts in the industry is based on a recently conducted study that showed an increasing skill gap among workers in the country. This skill gap can leave around two million manufacturing jobs left unfilled in half a decade or so.
The integration of modern technology in the manufacturing process allows companies to streamline processes and reduce costs. Additionally, it also increases productivity and profitability that will allow these companies to expand in the future.