5 Emerging Technology Trends for Manufacturers in 2017

The manufacturing industry has continued to push through the fourth industrial revolution known as Industry 4.0. Manufacturers are realizing that these new technology trends have become less of an addition and more of a necessity for their business. Digital systems, collaborative robotics and science-fiction sounding technology has become the standard conversion for those in the industry. Some of the technologies that will be discussed have already had an impact throughout 2016 but as we enter a new year, even more manufacturers will start getting on board as they become more advanced.

Below we will be diving into 5 trends that will continue to drive manufacturing forward into the new year and beyond.


Cybersecurity

This is a concept that manufacturers haven’t had to worry about for so long. Industrial businesses were convinced that they would never need to invest into cybersecurity platforms as their business was generally handled in person, over the phone or on the shop floor. However, as manufacturers became more connected over that past couple years to improve operations, they unknowingly opened themselves up to new business risks.

Manufacturers are utilizing the Industrial Internet of Things more than ever before in history. The pioneers of this innovative system have laid the foundation for smaller manufacturers to take advantage of what the IIoT has to offer. As more aspects of a manufacturing operation become controlled or monitored by connected digital systems, it leaves doors open for a would be cyber criminal to wreak havoc on a business. Cybersecurity will be absolutely critical in 2017 in order for manufacturers to continue benefiting from all this new technology while also keeping their business and employees safe.

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Advanced Materials

Material science continues to advance and manufacturers stand to benefit greatly. Carbon fiber was once thought to be the material on the 21st century. However, Carbon nanotube manufacturing is taking impressive strides forward and no one is certain what the future will hold. Graphene is still on the minds of manufacturers everywhere and it doesn’t end there. New materials are even helping to improve high-tech batteries which could help manufacturers power their business, store energy for longer periods of time and make electric systems more efficient and effective.

Aerospace is one industry that stands to gain from new materials that are still in the lab. Recently scientists have discovered a way to make airplane wings much more efficient to help cut down on weight and improve fuel economy. The aerospace industry is constantly looking for new materials to help cut weight while maintaining structural integrity and 2017 might be their year. As these materials make their way out of the lab, aerospace manufacturers are ready to jump at the opportunity to try them out.

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3D Printing

This was a topic that was in our last iteration of the Technology Trends for the Upcoming Year. Our previous prediction was correct in the sense that 3D printing continued to soar throughout 2016 and shows no shows no signs of slowing in 2017. New additive manufacturing systems and materials have made their way into manufacturers facilities all around the world. As the selection of materials continues to expand and the accuracy of these machines improve, industrial manufacturers are starting to realize the potential this incredible technology has to offer.

2017 may be the year where manufacturers start adopting 3D printing on a large scale. Aerospace manufacturers like NASA, Boeing, GE and Lockheed Martin are already producing system critical components with 3D printing for their engines and other systems. Before this, these manufacturers and others like them were manufacturing small, non-critical components to help cut down weight and produce more complex shapes to reduce the amount of parts needed. But now, as the ability to 3D print metal materials improves, industrial manufacturers, large and small, are beginning to experiment with this technology to see how it can benefit their own business.

4 Ways 3D Printing Can Improve Your Manufacturing Operation

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Predictive Analytics

This is a theme that was also mentioned in last years article as well. Manufacturers are drooling over the idea of being able to know when their machines will break down, when the market will pick up or how much inventory they need to buy next week. Predictive Analytics and the Big Data behind it is a prime example of how technology is moving the industry forward.

Predictive Analytics is still in its infancy and the manufacturers that have implemented these systems find them hard to trust. These kinds of systems are still having a hard time taking off as many manufacturers are still in the beginning stages of their Big Data and IoT implementation process. 2017 could see a large uptick in regard to the amount of manufacturers taking advantage of these systems.

3 Ways Predictive Analytics Can Improve Your Manufacturing Business

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Collaborative Robots

Last year we spoke about Advanced Robotics in all of their forms and how they will make a large impact on manufacturing in 2016. This prediction fared well as robotics technology continued to advance at an impressive pace this past year. However one kind of robotic system made the largest impact on manufacturing and that was Collaborative robots. Manufacturers have jumped at the opportunity to purchase these affordable yet extremely useful robotic systems.

Collaborative robots offer manufacturers the unique benefit of an automated system with the ability to work alongside human employees. These systems can assist a human with whatever task they’re tackling as they can be easily programmed and pose no threat to the employee. New safety standards have been put in place in 2016 which could lead to an incredible 2017 for Co-Bots of all kinds and the manufacturers that use them.

More On The New Safety Standards For Collaborative Robots.

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These technology trends have come so far this past year and this has put them in a position to soar in 2017. The foundation has been laid and manufacturers have become more comfortable with the idea of these digital and advanced systems controlling more aspects of their business. Manufacturers are learning to work with, instead of against them to help bring their business to the next level. We can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store, but these are the manufacturing trends to keep a close eye on as the 2016 comes to a close.