As the manufacturing industry moves into the 4th industrial revolution it has become clear that embracing new technologies is imperative to success. Many of the innovations seen today were merely concepts only a few years ago but with the current trend of rapid technological advancement, they are becoming widely adopted throughout the industry. Some of these key innovations include 3D printing, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Augmented Reality. The adoption of these technologies throughout the industry is changing how many businesses operate for the better and in turn, manufacturers are aiding in the advancement of the technology.
3D printing was once solely used by hobbyists and over time became practical for prototyping purposes. As the technology moved forward, the manufacturing community started to see even more potential for the technology. 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has seen quite a few improvements over the past 3 years that have established it as a contender for many businesses primary means of production. Some of the major advancements the technology experienced include the materials able to be used, the speed of production, and Hybrid Manufacturing. This form of manufacturing is quickly becoming a cost effective solution for businesses big and small with advancements still taking place nearly every day.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a way for manufacturers to connect all of the devices and systems throughout their operations so they can seamlessly communicate. A few years ago businesses were wary to adopt this technology due to concerns over security risks, hardware costs and the logistics of implementing the systems. Thanks to innovative companies dedicating themselves to advancing this technology such as IBM, Microsoft and ARM, the IIoT is becoming a necessity for any manufacturer that wants to thrive in today’s industry. Measures have been taken to lowers costs and most machines are built with optional IIoT capabilities. The only issue that is still far from being truly secure. With the IIoT’s ability to improve efficiency, lower costs, increase visibility and improve employee safety the manufacturing community must work together in order to find solutions to cyber security issues, many of which can already be solved with a few preventative measures.
Augmented Reality (AR) was once only considered science fiction but quickly became a reality when companies like Google and Microsoft started developing real world devices. Google Glass and Microsoft’s Hololens may not have seen success at the consumer level but they quickly found life on the factory floor as the industry saw the vast amount of benefits the technology offered. Many of these devices are worn by an employee and can give workers real time updates on various aspects of the factory such as component availability, safety issues, and offer troubleshooting advice for a variety of problems. AR can work in tandem with the IIoT to create a safer more efficient workplace and the data gathered can be used to further increase both of those aspects. These devices will soon become an essential addition to every manufacturer’s tool kit.
Embracing new technology is more important than ever before especially in the manufacturing industry. As new advancements continue to show how they can improve every facet of a business, they will only grow harder to ignore. Much of the technology is still in its infancy but it only took a few years for everything discussed above to make their mark in a big way on the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing Talk Radio keeps a close eye on all the latest technological advancements taking place throughout the industry so be sure to check back for the latest manufacturing breakthroughs and developments.