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5 Manufacturing Trends to Watch for 2019

  • 6 February 2019
  • CTND
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With Industry 4.0 quickly gaining steam, 2019 is the year for manufacturers to prioritize technological advancements in order to stay competitive in the coming years — and industry predictions suggest the coming years are going to move very quickly.

Initiatives that rely on connected, data-driven technologies generated $5.1 billion in 2017. By 2023, the total is projected to climb to $21.7 billion.

Industry 4.0 runs on a new generation of technology and takes a drastically different approach to production. Manufacturers who acknowledge and embrace these new industry trends will reap the rewards of precise, efficient, and automated manufacturing.

If you want to remain competitive in Industry 4.0, check out our infographic with the 5 trends you should prioritize in 2019 and the years to come. If you want to learn more, keep reading below the infographic for more detailed information on each of these trends.

5 Manufacturing Trends to Watch for 2019

1. Complete Digitization

The future of manufacturing revolves around the idea of every process being integrated into one centralized, digital platform. This will allow manufacturers to gain deep insights about their operations, schedules, equipment maintenance, inventory and more. With integrated digital systems you’ll be able to monitor and manage every aspect of production with incredible precision.

Manufacturers have already made great strides toward this goal, and we are likely to witness the first completely digitized operations finding their footing this year. According to one IDC study, more than half of all companies will be “digitally determined” by 2020. These digital transformation efforts aim to streamline how companies integrate, organize, and analyze their data. The trend of digitization promises to be a driving force behind factories of the future, and if you’re not considering how to digitize your processes now, you’re at risk of falling behind.

2. Internet of Things (IoT)

Complete digitization of processes is only possible with complete connectivity of all equipment and devices used in the manufacturing process. Connectivity will be a big theme this year and the years to come through the use of IoT connected devices.

By leveraging IoT, smart sensors can track discrete processes, equipment performance and inventory levels, and send the data to an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform for integration. With connected devices capturing real-time data, key decision-makers will be able to track and improve everything from output and efficiency to inventory levels and supply chains. Manufacturers have already had success incorporating IoT devices onto the production floor, and the presence of IoT is growing fast.

Estimates indicate that the IoT will reach the inflection point of 18-20% in 2019, at which point the adoption rate will start to accelerate. The great news is, manufacturers of any size can begin leveraging connected devices this year, as long as they have a strong ERP platform to manage the attendant data.

3. Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) has a number of applications in manufacturing. For example, technicians can learn how to repair or troubleshoot sophisticated equipment in a VR simulator. Engineering teams can also use VR to design prototypes and test new parts or tools with minimal spending on materials. These are just two examples of how VR can improve safety, enhance processes, aid in product design, and offer important new perspectives to manufacturing leaders.

More than one-third of manufacturers were expected to adopt VR in 2018, and that will likely increase in 2019. Widespread adoption of VR is still a few years off, but we expect to see manufacturers preparing this year by setting up the technological foundations that will enable them to use VR in the future. For instance, adopters will need to have a way to link their VR capabilities to their broader enterprise data and establishing that data foundation is something organizations must focus on sooner rather than later.

4. Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing, or AM) is arguably one of the most transformational technologies ever introduced to manufacturing. Advances in AM now allow parts and tools to be made out of high-performance plastic or refined metal alloys. More significantly, the nature of AM processes allow for angles, cavities, and cuts to be made that would be difficult and costly to accomplish with traditional tools.

By 2023 the AM market is expected to be worth $5.66 billion, up from last year’s $1.73 billion. This technology requires the careful management of vast amounts of data for it to live up to its potential. The manufacturers that succeed in implementing AM will be those that have robust systems in place for collecting, storing, and analyzing large amounts of data.

5. Robotics

Robotics are nothing new in the manufacturing industry, but their level of autonomy is. Today’s robots are able to complete highly complex processes, make independent decisions, and operate with minimal human intervention.

Previously, robots were used to complete discrete, repetitive processes. Going forward, we will likely see robots assist with far more aspects of manufacturing — especially in roles where it’s dangerous, complex, or cost-prohibitive to use human workers. The total number of industrial robots worldwide is expected to reach 2.6 million this year, an increase of roughly 1 million units since 2015. Robots, like all the technologies mentioned above, are driven by data. Leveraging robots successfully starts by getting the underlying data in order.

Are your existing technologies robust enough to support your organization’s fourth industrial revolution? Contact Cre8tive Technology & Design to discuss how we can help you strengthen your organization’s technology foundation and prepare your company to embrace these Industry 4.0 trends.

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