It’s no secret that manufacturing is going digital. Some of the most significant catalysts for this on-going digital transformation are – higher customer expectations, increased connectivity and, technological improvements.
Many companies have started to realize the long term benefits of digital transformation. If you, too, plan to go digital, you can benefit greatly from enhanced efficiency, optimized data use, increased scope of innovation, and overall cost reduction.
But, how to bring a digital transformation in your manufacturing company? What are the latest trends you should know?
Let’s take a look.
Digital Transformation Trends in Manufacturing
It’s an inspiring time for the manufacturing industry because Industry 4.0 is still in process. Many companies are shifting gears with the use of advanced technology to automate their manual processes. Click To TweetHonestly, the year 2020 continues to follow the digital transformation trends set in this area in the last few years. The difference lies not so much in the kind of technology being used, but more so in the increased number of companies going digital.
Let’s take a look at the seven most-followed digital transformation trends to watch for in 2020.
1. Machine Learning and AI
AI or Artificial intelligence is all about the creation of intelligent software or hardware, which is able to replicate “human” behaviors such as learning and problem-solving.
We know that the biggest asset for any company going digital is its data. Keeping in mind the amount of data collected by the machines, it becomes vital to use algorithms to perform quick actions – something that cannot be done as efficiently, quickly, and accurately by us humans.
‘Data quantity’ and ‘computing power’ have thus become the two significant reasons to deploy Artificial Intelligence-led technologies in your manufacturing company. And, it’s what will make your manufacturing more productive and less wasteful.
The Internet of Things or IoT is the network of different physical objects embedded with software. It’s a network of interconnected sensors and electronic devices that gather and exchange data.
Aren’t we all familiar with such products at our homes in the form of Digital voice-based assistants like Alexa, or a smart TV, lightbulbs, and thermostats?
Similarly, the IIoT or the Industrial Internet of Things has the machines on the manufacturing floor, networked via the Internet. The system collects data to drive AI and perform predictive analytics.
IIoT is transforming the manufacturing industry big time. It is helping change the way products are made and delivered.
A survey in 2019 showed that roughly 63% of manufacturers believe that implementing IoT will increase profitability over the next five years.
As compared to 2015, when IoT spending world-wide in discreet manufacturing amounted to 10 billion U.S. dollars, in 2020, it has grown four times to 40 billion U.S. dollars.
3. 5G and Smart Manufacturing
Everyone has been talking about 5G in the last few years. But, this year is crucial because 5G has finally entered the world of manufacturing.
Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution, is ushering in an era of smart factories with connected devices, which can interoperate with one another and make decentralized decisions. However, this transformation is not possible without 5G.
This fifth-generation mobile network is faster and more powerful, capable of handling the full integration of the IIoT in a smart factory. 5G’s high capacity, wireless flexibility, and low-latency performance make it a default choice to support manufacturers.
Some companies are already testing it. Audi, the automotive company, has already implemented 5G to support its robotics, cutting 30% to 50% off of their delivery time.
(Source: Manufacturing Industry Trends for 2020 by Beekeeper)
4. 3D Printing Technology
3D Printing is a much talked about digital transformation technology in the manufacturing industry. The use of this technology helps companies make faster and cheaper prototypes. In fact, innovations in this field have almost halved costs, while delivering twice the performance.
It’s a cost-effective way for item designers to troubleshoot and test their commodities. It also helps industrial manufacturers to produce commodities that are in high demand.
The aerospace and automotive manufacturing industries are already making good use of this technology.
5. Predictive Maintenance Innovation
The manufacturing industry has always relied upon the use of technology. As per a survey by ITIC in 2019, 86% of manufacturing firms state that a single hour of downtime can cost at least $300,000. As businesses move towards “always-on” and staying interconnected, these numbers are likely to go up now.
In the past, manufacturers would schedule routine maintenance on equipment to check for any unnoticed malfunction. But this too would result in halted production and cost money.
Now, with the investment in digital technology, machines are developed with internal sensors that send messages to notify workers if maintenance is required. With a real-time alert and response system, the technology of predictive maintenance catches mechanical failures even before they happen.
Now! Isn’t that cool!
6. Next Generation Manufacturing Employees
This one’s about people and skills.
It’s evident that as technology takes over much of repetitive work, many traditional manufacturing jobs will phase out. Also, with an increased supply chain demand, companies are automating operations to speed up the production.
Now, I am not saying that jobs will disappear from the industry. In fact, humans will still remain at the heart of the manufacturing industry. It’s just that they will need new skills. Some of the in-demand jobs will be:
- Data analysts
- Software engineers
- Programming for IoT, robotics, and automation
- Customer service
- R&D, product development
- Sales and marketing
As the scope of their jobs shifts away from traditional hands-on manufacturing, the workers will need to develop new skills.
7. Agility and Responsiveness
The biggest advantage is that technology is making our manufacturers focus on improving the responsiveness and agility because of changing customer demands and market conditions.
If we can reduce the time it takes us to create, receive, schedule, and process a client’s order, there is nothing like it.
This is beneficial to the manufacturing companies. They will be able to match production cycles and the emerging product demand levels closely. The more successfully an organization can match those two essentials, the more agility they can pump in their operations.
Why Manufacturing Companies Should Invest in Digital Transformation?
Digital manufacturing is a wonderful concept. Here are six ways you could benefit from working digitally:
1. Improve efficiency & productivity
Investing in the right digital strategy can improve work efficiency and productivity drastically for you. Moving away from traditional manual processes and deploying automated, cloud-based solutions can help:
- Streamline processes
- Improve decision-making capabilities
- Avoid costly rework and downtime
- Simplify performance monitoring
- Identify weaknesses and bottlenecks
- And pre-test new ideas before implementing them
This way, your business can save a huge amount of time and money while also using employee time more effectively.
You can explore the use of technologies such as:
- Online paperwork
- Automatic stock replenishment
- Factory virtualization
- Digital planning and processing tools
- Remote communication software
- And online collaboration to digitize work
2. Reduce costs
Digital manufacturing can help you gain better insight into issues, such as inventory levels, delivery status, and demand cycles.
You can be in a better position to make informed decisions and deal with irregularities of demand and supply. This will reduce unnecessary risks and costs related to things like excessive inventory, inventory, and material.
You will never regret investing in the digitization of your manufacturing company. It’ll be worth it to invest in the right digital infrastructure, technology, and software, as it will empower your employees with unique, and improved technology, taking a step towards modernization.
Moreover, technology makes room for collaboration by connecting users, sharing vital information, remote meetings and conversations, greater idea generation, and accelerated development. This can transform your entire business.
Digitized manufacturers can offer customers attractive customization options. It can allow manufacturers to operate on a mass scale while maintaining high efficiency. This will ultimately help in keeping the prices competitive.
Robots can handle work in dangerous environments. The manufacturing staff can be alerted about potential hazards well in advance, thanks to the sensors deployed throughout the plant.
6. Attract and empower the next generation workers
By investing in digitization, there’s a better chance of you attracting and retaining skilled workers.
How Leading Manufacturers Are Driving Digital Transformation?
Before embarking on your own transformation journey, let’s take a look at the following incredible success stories and gather inspiration from these experts in the manufacturing industry.
Cisco has always outsourced most of its manufacturing to contract manufacturers. Although outsourcing has several benefits, it also poses the challenge of controlling outsourced production processes, especially product quality.
To manage this challenge, Cisco developed a “virtual” MES (manufacturing execution system) platform or VMES, which provides real-time visibility to supply chain quality.
The VMES shares supply chain quality data in real-time and covers three fundamental aspects, of outsourced production operations: Traceability, Transformation, and Test.
Polaris is known world-wide for its snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).
With an aim to deliver a superior end-to-end experience to its customers, including customized purchase options and enhanced safety features, Polaris digitized to change the way they designed, manufactured and serviced their products.
Polaris adopted a phase-wise approach to digital transformation with PTC as a key partner: Starting with product lifecycle management (PLM) and extending the platform through IIoT to augmented reality.
Gaining visibility throughout the product lifecycle – from concept to product design to manufacturing to real-world use – was a critical part of the digital transformation journey.
Lavifood, is a Vietnamese company that provides fresh vegetables, fruits, and agricultural products to global markets.
The company is has started using a suite of technologies to achieve digital transformation. Right from integrating IIoT, higher connectivity, and real-time analytics the company has explored different ways to digitize their processes, provide dynamic responses to issues, reduce downtime, all this ultimately leading to improved quality of products.
Drive Digital Transformation in Your Manufacturing Plant with Imaginovation
An excellent approach to launching a digital transformation in manufacturing is to identify improvement opportunities that will result in significant benefits to the customer.
Are you ready to take the next step towards getting a digital transformation? If you want to build an incredible smart manufacturing unit that can help to improve your business process and facilitate growth, then get in touch with us.
We are an award-winning web and mobile app development agency with a vast experience of crafting remarkable digital success stories for diverse companies. Let’s talk.
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