Almost everything we use on an everyday basis is produced by a manufacturer and therefore, it is no wonder that manufacturing is often described as a key building block of the society. Manufacturing has steadily evolved over the centuries from human intensive methods to machine oriented assembly lines to the highly automated and connected factories we’re beginning to see more in current times.
Technology is absolutely revolutionizing the way the world of manufacturing and associated supply chain operates today. So, what exactly are some of the key drivers of this growing technology that we should be aware of? In this blog post, ’I’ll outline a point of view for the top manufacturing trends in 2023, as well as how manufacturers could capitalize on them.
Manufacturing automation refers to the use of technology to automate industrial processes and tasks. This includes the use of machines, robots, and computer systems to control and monitor manufacturing processes, including production, quality control and maintenance. Automation technology is designed to improve production efficiency, reduce waste and errors, and increase safety and reliability.
Automation has been around for a long time, but it has started to gain traction in manufacturing. Robotics is helping to automate some of the labor intensive and error prone processes. For almost all the different touch points that a raw material or finished good has throughout a supply chain for manufacturing of the product, robotics can automate process. Also, automation can automatically manage the pick, pack, and ship processes. These are just a couple examples of how automation is changing the way supply chain managers can manage the overall manufacturing supply chain. Automation can be a game changer for creating more efficiencies, consistency, predictability, and scale than humans can never achieve. Automation also has the advantage of capturing data in the manufacturing which was not possible before robotics in our supply chains.
Possibly our next Adidas runners just might be made in America by a robot. The shoemaker’s Atlanta based manufacturing facility which is also known as “Speed factory” has robotic based shoe manufacturing facility of 74,000 square feet. The facility has a production capacity of 50,000 pairs per year, which is only a fraction of the annual shoe shipments. Programming robots to focus a particular model, different size, or different combination of core components is comparatively easier than humans and requires less transition time.
2. Connected Systems
Implementing Industry 4.0 is a priority for many companies that are turning to connected factories to address issues affecting their manufacturing facilities. High degree of automation, digitization, and data integration when clubbed together can not only solve problems on the assembly line, but also improve the customer and employee experience.
Connected manufacturing using integrated sensor networks is expected to increase uptime, reduce operating costs, and improve quality of service. Mobile and web apps allow companies to automatically inspect equipment, schedule maintenance, and report information like temperature readings and problems in real time.
John Deere, which is an America based manufacturer of agricultural, forestry, and construction machinery was the first company that bought the concept of GPS in tractors. The company has deployed telematics technology for predictive maintenance applications.
Another technology trend in the manufacturing space is the term called interoperability and it is a way to describe how multiple systems can talk to one another and provide a cohesive set of business processes, technologies, data sets to automate and provide operations for manufacturing organizations.
It is especially important for manufacturing organizations that are very complex and have a diverse set of business processes, technologies and data coming from multiple sources which require a best of breed or multiple technology solutions. While it’s possible that we could find a single enterprise-wide technology like a MES to automate most of our manufacturing operations, it’s rare to find one technology that can automate everything end to end. Manufacturers more than most other industries rely on interoperability. It entails making sure manufacturers are open to multiple technologies and simultaneously assess how these different technologies can talk to one another and integrate into a seamless solution. It has become more viable in recent years because of better integration tools and platforms to enable interoperability model. Earlier it was very painful to go through a deployment with multiple systems as it was difficult to tie together integration points, architecture, and data flow between different systems. Today we have technologies in the marketplace which enables optimum interoperability, and it is one of the key technology trends within the manufacturing space.
Mass Robotics encourages manufacturers to expand their ecosystem and allow their software packages to interface with other platforms. In other examples, Siemens has fleet management software that doesn’t care what type of robot the company uses, its software package can control any or all of them, and recent Amazon Web Services (AWS) introduced its own robot-independent fleet management software. wrap.
4. Digital Customer Experience
IDC estimates that digital transformation spending will reach $7.4 trillion in 2023, and most of that spending will be in the manufacturing sector. Additional IDC research suggests that 75% of large manufacturers are already updating their operations with innovative technologies.
Technology in the manufacturing space is enabling manufacturing organizations to focus more on the end customer experience. It’s providing better data and visibility about customer needs and wants to really satisfy customer demand. Manufacturers are discovering opportunities with technology to enhance overall customer experience.
Manufacturers have turned to technologies such as cloud, AI, chatbots, IoT, mobility and analytics to anticipate customer needs, improve service management, enable preventative maintenance, reduce service costs, and help service agents improve service times to end the request resolution process.
Mueller, one of the leading manufacturers and retailers of construction steel, roofing, and materials in the United States, realized that their buying process was not as easy as Amazon’s and that it was necessary to make changes to retain and grow their business. Mueller added more self-service features to its website to help streamline and simplify shopping. Allowing customers to discover product offerings and create their own quotes resulted in 73% increase in quotes per month, 250% jump in website traffic and 54,000+ registered users.
5. Business Intelligence
All these different trends and technologies that we have discussed are complemented with business intelligence. Today, we generate and capture humungous amount of data which enable us to access a great deal of information about visibility, operations, and overall supply chain. However, data is only useful with an efficient business intelligence tool which completes the loop in the process by providing actionable insights.
Business intelligence tools are either standalone or ones which bolt on to other technologies or inbuilt technologies provided by ERP software vendors as part of their core capabilities. These tools can be leveraged to enable businesses to have enhanced visibility, real time analytics and other quantitative measures which totally transforms manufacturing supply chain.
Traditional data warehouses, legacy databases and data frames are not designed to capture the opportunities of IoT and machine-generated data. For this, a data lake is required. A data lake is a centralized storage that allows companies to store data as-is without having to structure the data first, and then lets them run different types of analysis to guide better decisions. A data lake can store data generated in industrial settings as-is—streaming, semi-structured, relational, and structured. Built to facilitate business analytics, advanced and prescriptive analytics, AI/ML, and more, a data lake resolves issues such as inaccessibility, data integration, multiple formats, massive data storage, and multiple protocols. Industrial enterprises can use data lakes in all kinds of ways to improve production, asset management, forecasting, inventory control and much more.
SKF is a Sweden-based global manufacturer and supplier of bearings, seals, mechatronics, and lubrication systems with 17,000 distributor locations. The company needed to simplify the complex Excel files used to produce a demand forecast. Management realized it needed to implement a business intelligence to serve as a single source of reliable information. By centralizing data assets into a single system, SFK was quickly able to share data and analyses between several departments including sales, manufacturing planning, application engineering, business development and management. SKF now combines demand forecasts between departments and has improved the planning process.
The manufacturing sector will undergo a significant transformation in the coming years, with new technologies promising to revolutionize the industry. We have outlined some of the top technology trends expected to impact the industry in 2023. These technologies will revolutionize the way manufacturers operate, allowing them to make informed decisions in real time, reducing downtime and increasing efficiency. As we move towards 2023 and beyond, we can expect continued growth in the adoption of these technologies, leading to a more efficient, efficient, and competitive manufacturing sector.