The manufacturing industry is changing at an unprecedented speed. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) “Manufacturers of every size and shape are changing rapidly because of new digital technologies, new competitors, new ecosystems, and new ways of doing business.” Customers today are also much more aware, demanding improved efficiency and innovative products. Technology is the catalyst behind this disruption. And organizations will only survive if they adapt quickly and stay abreast of the current manufacturing industry trends.
Smart organizations are embracing the change. In a PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey, 72% of manufacturing companies are increasing their level of digitization and expect to be able to be ranked as digitally advanced by 2020. These companies are going to invest around $907 billion per year, which makes up about 5% of revenue, to become better connected and establish smarter factories.
If you don’t want your organization to be left behind, here are some trends to follow this year and in 2019.
Industrial Internet of Things
While IoT is more consumer-focused, Industrial IoT is revolutionizing industries’ industrial environments like power plants and factories, making them smart and efficient. Boston Consulting Group predicts that companies will spend approximately $267 billion on IoT technologies, products, and services by 2020. And 50% of this spending will be done by industries like manufacturing, transportation, and logistics and utilities.
3D printing has the potential to completely disrupt the manufacturing industry—from design and development to production. Most manufacturers are exploring 3D printing to improve output and decrease waste. A single part used to require a half-dozen pieces to be crafted and assembled; now, a 3D printer can be used to create the whole part in one go. These 3D printers not only recycle the materials used, but also reduce the time spent in waiting for replacement parts, considerably.
Although the concept of augmented reality (AR) is nothing new, experts suggest that the technology is still in its earliest stages. Some of its applications are in complex assembly, maintenance, expert support, quality assurance, and automation. The technology can also help in creating simulation and visual designs without needing to build prototypes, saving a lot of time during the development phase. Manufacturers utilizing AR are experiencing a number of benefits, including a reduction in cost, increased production speed, fewer errors, and overall improved safety.
Robotics & Automation
On one hand, robotics and automation will replace humans; on the other hand, they will create new job opportunities and require a newly skilled workforce to manage and program them. Hence, more and more robots are integrated into a variety of production lines. According to MarketsandMarkets, the industrial robotics market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.60%, from $38 billion in 2016 to $71 billion by 2023. A new trend of collaborative robots, also known as “cobots”, is emerging. Instead of taking over for laborers completely, cobots work alongside humans to improve efficiency of processes and reduce hazards.
By now you must have heard about the cryptocurrency Bitcoin and the technology behind it, blockchain. Blockchain is a digital ledger technology which can be used to store and record transactions in a more secure and transparent way. Although it is still not clear to what extent it will impact the manufacturing industry, industry leaders are exploring ways to utilize the technology. It will be interesting to see the outcome.
These are only a few of many manufacturing industry trends to watch out for in 2019, making it a year of change for manufacturers.