4 Manufacturing Tech Trends to Keep an Eye On in 2018

Digital disruption is restructuring manufacturing, at an unprecedented rate. It is no longer about survival of the fittest, but about the survival of the most agile.

Surveying the global manufacturing landscape, and taking into account transformative technologies like greater intelligence in operational assets and processes, data capitalization, the convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT), it can be said that manufacturers are actively adopting newer techs to eliminate old barriers and seize emerging opportunities to stay ahead of the competitive curve.

Before we move further ahead in 2018, Embee takes a look at four important manufacturing tech trends of this year:

1. Adoption of Analytics will increase:

By 2020, the digital universe will expand to 44 trillion gigabytes, forcing manufactures, along with other businesses, to adopt advanced data analytics. While analytics is not a new technology, the growing amount of data being constantly generated by Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has ushered a new era of analytics system.

Source: Mckinsey

Today’s analytics breaks down vast amounts of data to extract real time information on productivity and manufacturing, key concerns and risks, equipment status, market trends, customer expectations and much more to enable manufacturers to make data-based decisions on the go. Predictive analytics can facilitate demand forecasting, quality improvement and preventive maintenance in the factories while prescriptive analytics can help businesses overcome technical and technological limitations to meet market demand and maximize profits. Analytics can further be paired with AI to automate the decision-making process, thus virtually eliminating the need for human interference in maintaining or adjusting manufacturing operations. While established conglomerates like Dr Pepper and Forbes have implemented analytics to enable smarter manufacturing, small and midsized enterprises (SMEs) are steadily adopting this technology to improve business efficiencies and customer experiences.

2. Internet of Things (IoT) will be crucial for smarter manufacturing:

Internet of things (IoT) has proven to be critical for manufacturing companies. Nearly one-third of all IoT spending will be focused on the manufacturing industry in the APeJ (Asia Pacific, excluding Japan) region, till 2020. By integrating hyper-connected, hyper-aware, IoT-enabled ecosystem across factories, manufacturers can streamline processes like manufacturing operation management (MOM), production asset management and maintenance, safety and security management, field service, customer preference, production flow monitoring and more. Implementation of IoT can help manufacturers to extract valuable insights from industrial data, optimize critical operations based on the insights and drive innovation as per customers’ expectations.

In this video, Intel explains how IoT is practically set to drive the next industrial revolution:

3. Artificial Intelligence will increase efficiency:

Businesses have started to realize how Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology can facilitate smarter manufacturing by automating complex decision-making. From creating safer workplaces with sensory perception-integrated applications/bots to facilitating better collaboration between humans and robots, from eliminating supply chain bottlenecks with accurate demand forecasting and capacity planning to automating in-process inspection, from scheduling predictive maintenance of machinery to ensuring quality control over ever-increasing product variety, AI is basically paving the way for adaptive manufacturing. Investment in AI technology also leads to reduced cost and increased revenue. According to Volkhard Bregulla, Vice President of Global Manufacturing Industries at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, AI-enabled predictive maintenance enables manufacturers to reduce downtime by 60% which leads to significant savings.

4. Blockchain will be explored in greater detail:

While the real applications of Block Chain in manufacturing are yet to be explored, technology experts expect manufactures to use this technology to maintain the quality of the product – during manufacturing, in transit and upon delivery. Besides better tracking and quality control, compliance and transparency, reduction in errors in payment processing and auditing, faster identification of attempted fraud, better scalability and quicker responses to customers are some of the areas that Blockchain technology can help manufacturers. With 90% of major European and North American banks already exploring Blockchain for verification of funds and tracking, it can help manufacturers reduce expenses associated with counterfeit or fraudulent purchases.

In this video, Nitesh Bansal, Senior Vice President and Head of Manufacturing Practice – Americas and Europe, Infosys, explains how Blockchain holds much promise for the manufacturing industry:

These manufacturing tech trends will definitely impact consumer-manufacturer interactions in 2018 and beyond. As more and more manufacturers gear up to meet growing customer demands with adoption of AI, big data and analytics and IoT, how prepared would you deem your organization for what lies ahead?

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