The development of technology has no indications of stopping with more companies from various industries choosing to invest in different technological trends to streamline their operations. The manufacturing industry is no different since investing in newer technology allows a business to maintain efficiency while reducing operational costs.
There are several technological trends available that eventually allow for a company to operate efficiently and advance to a smarter workplace.
Wearable technology or smart accessories are a category of electronic devices that a user can wear, insert in clothing, or implant in the body. Depending on what device is worn, they can track a user’s health-related data, location, or even biofeedback, which indicates emotions. The manufacturing industry, however, also has used for smart accessories.
The manufacturing industry can adopt wearable technology to improve efficiency and productivity in the workplace. On the production line, workers could use smart accessories to obtain additional info or convey remote orders or commands without leaving their stations. Employees in the warehouse can locate goods and ordered products faster through situational and contextual data received through wearable technology.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
Using wearable technology presents the possibility of using augmented and virtual reality to make improvements in the manufacturing industry. Using wearable technology, AR, and VR lets man collaborate with machines to ensure higher productivity without any sacrifice in quality.
A worker in a production line might miss manufacturing errors only to find them post-process when the defect is already present. Man-machine collaboration avoids such a scenario by using wearable technology and AR to present data on even the slightest things in the production line that could affect the output. People on-site can either make immediate repairs or get help from supervisors.
Using VR, on the other hand, allows workers to train with the equipment they’ll eventually use without any chances of making financially exhausting damages to the company. A trainee can immerse in an environment similar to a particular field of work.
Workers using VR can assist in conducting repairs in either far away or remote areas by virtually immersing in such an environment without having to leave the post.
Many companies are continually seeking new and innovative ways to ensure greater efficiency and productivity in the industry and 3D printing or additive manufacturing is at the forefront. 3D printing allows for faster and cheaper production of parts ready for assembly.
Any human error seen in the production line is significantly reduced to remove the risk of wasting materials and money. A 3D-printed prototype is cheaper to produce and manipulate than a traditionally-made one. Traditional manufacturing lines focus on creating products en masse while 3D printers can be used for printing products in significantly lower numbers.
3D-printers only require one operator per machine to start an automated process of making products without the need of skilled machinists and other personnel.
The digital transformation allowed manufacturing businesses to integrate robots in their manufacturing processes from bending machines to laser cutters. Shifting to using automated equipment allows a company to stay competitive in the field.
The efficiency resulting from using automated solutions is such that there is optimization in the material flow, improvement of machine use, and the increase of work and process reliability. The workflow accelerates, and the manufacturing quality increases when manufacturing companies, big or small, integrate automation in their production lines.
Rise of Smart Factories
Smart factories are highly digitized and connected production facilities that rely on smart manufacturing or the technology-driven approach that uses Internet-connected machines to monitor the production process. It is thought that the smart factory is the factory of the future, but it is still on the development stages. Its concept is considered an essential result of Industry 4.0 or the fourth industrial revolution.
Smart factories use artificial intelligence and automated solutions to create a network of hardware and software to certify that there is coordination between the various components, optimization in the production flow, and smooth integration with machines from other suppliers.
The increasing use of automated machinery and the development of better software allows for the eventual rise of smart factories in the future.
Trends in the manufacturing industry lean forward to making factories smarter and automated to adapt to the changes present in the current workforce. The younger members of the workforce, the newest additions, have lower patience in doing repetitive tasks than the older ones, but both groups tend to commit errors that damage equipment and hamper productivity.
Manufacturing companies that invest and switch to newer technological trends save money while either maintaining or improving both the quality of their work and the productivity of their facilities and workforce. The worry that automating the manufacturing process will result in people losing jobs will, I reality, result in opening up newer jobs specialized in maintaining such systems. Since there are insufficient numbers of people specializing in maintaining automated systems, companies can train existing personnel for such roles, and VR can come in handy in such situations.