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The Shift To A Smart Factory: 7 Manufacturing Innovation Trends

For years, the manufacturing sector has been the subject of much negative media coverage, from outsourcing manufacturing jobs to concerns about how technology has replaced people on the assembly line. But in recent years, there’s been a shift in tone. Manufacturing’s reputation is improving due to exciting new manufacturing innovation trends that are bringing advanced technologies and new approaches to the industry.

Innovations in manufacturing are revolutionizing entire industries, from how people use technology to the products they buy.

Still, with all of the innovations we see today, manufacturing has changed little since Henry Ford introduced the assembly line and mass production. The current manufacturing state isn’t just outdated; it’s increasingly inefficient. Manufacturing jobs have declined by 26 percent since their peak in 1979, and automation has become a necessity to compete globally. However, now that manufacturers are beginning to adapt to these changes, we’re seeing a slew of innovations that will create new opportunities for workers and fuel strong job growth.

In this article, we’ll explore seven manufacturing innovation trends:

Mobility 

Manufacturers are increasingly turning to mobility tools such as tablets and smartphones to increase efficiency and improve communication among employees.

As a result of this increased use, manufacturers are looking for better ways to manage and secure these mobile devices. Manufacturers also have concerns about data protection and security, given the potential for theft of these devices. The good news is that many solutions are available that can address these issues.

Automation

With the rise of automation, we’re seeing that all over the world, manufacturers are looking for ways to save costs.

One of the biggest trends in the manufacturing world is the increased automation of production. In the past, it was difficult and expensive to automate specific processes or stages of production. As technology improves and becomes more affordable, manufacturers are finding ways to incorporate robotics and automation into the production process.

The fast pace of technology allows manufacturers to be much more versatile with their manufacturing processes than they were just a few years ago. The ability to change out or upgrade parts of a production line has allowed companies to adjust much more quickly to the changing needs of their customers. For example, conveyor belt replacement has become easier now than before. Click here to learn more about how to do replacement conveyor belts. New technology also allows for flexibility in production methods and processes such as 3D printing have made it possible for manufacturers to produce parts with greater ease and faster than ever before. This also means that smaller-scale companies can produce many of the same products as larger-scale companies.

Collaboration

A strong supply chain is critical for modern manufacturing; manufacturers are turning to new technology designed to improve collaboration between suppliers and buyers.

It is becoming more common to tap into new technology designed to improve collaboration between manufacturers and their suppliers. As it becomes easier to track and monitor worldwide suppliers and their production, manufacturers have begun to realize they don’t always have to manufacture at home in order to meet demand. Some companies are even developing strategies that call for manufacturing overseas as a way to cut costs.

Manufacturers need real-time information about their inventory, shipping status, and sales performance to manage a supply chain effectively. This can be difficult when multiple products are being shipped from multiple locations around the globe. As a result, manufacturers are turning to new technology such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced supply chain management systems designed to facilitate collaboration between manufacturers and their suppliers.

Connectivity

One thing that many industries have in common is that they rely heavily on data collection and analysis in order to make decisions about manufacturing processes, employee scheduling, supply chain management, etc. 

Technology has made it possible for all of these different aspects of manufacturing to be connected under one network so that any other department can easily access essential company resources. The increasing amounts of data help manufacturers make better decisions on automating processes and improving performance.

Manufacturers use the Internet of Things (IoT), the growing network of devices connected to the internet, to provide remote access to data and streamline operations. 

Smart products

More sensors will be embedded in manufacturing equipment, products, buildings, and even our bodies. This “Internet of Things” will allow us to improve the way things are made and make better decisions about what we should make.

These sensors will help us better use energy and raw materials. For example, a machine that makes car parts could tell its manufacturer when it needs maintenance or repairs before maintenance is due.

They will also allow us to monitor food production more closely and prevent the spread of disease by tracking cases of illness. Sensors can tell you if a fish has started to spoil or a piece of fruit has gone bad. This can be helpful for consumers and businesses since it reduces waste and helps people take action before they get sick.

Thingification is another trend that describes this tendency for everything to be connected to everything else through the internet. We’ll see more intelligent products as well as smart spaces (like homes and offices) become part of the internet of things.”

Since these intelligent products have sensors that collect data about their own performance, they can use the data to improve products themselves or the processes that make them. For example, a manufacturer can use temperature sensors embedded into a machine to make sure it’s working at optimal levels or reduce energy consumption by turning down the temperature when it’s not needed.

Flexible automation

Flexible automation gives manufacturers more control over their production process by quickly changing up how they do things based on demand for different products or materials.

The truth is, flexible automation technology has been around for years. But it wasn’t until recently that it became more widely accessible and affordable to use in the manufacturing process. Manufacturers who have implemented this technology have effectively scaled up or down their production processes, which allows them to apply the same level of quality and detail that they would put into their mass production processes to every single unit that goes out the door.

As manufacturing evolves and becomes more dynamic, it will be imperative for manufacturers to invest in solutions and technologies that help them adapt quickly, accurately, and efficiently. For example: Flexible automation systems can help ensure that every unit of product coming off the line meets exact specifications and quality levels by altering the way lines run based on factors like demand trends or materials used.

Advanced robotics

With advancements in technology and the development of artificial intelligence, robots are becoming more common in industrial and manufacturing settings. With the use of robotics, companies can achieve higher output with fewer errors and less wasted time.

There are many types of robots used in manufacturing. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses. Industrial robots are designed to take over long, repetitive tasks that are dangerous for humans to perform. They can move heavy objects accurately and quickly, handling loads that far exceed their weight. Their ability to work safely alongside humans is another advantage of this type of robot.

These machines are also versatile and can perform different tasks by simply changing the end effectors they use (such as a drill or saw). Robots also generally have better accuracy than humans, which means businesses can use them for tasks that require careful alignment or measurement.

Conclusion

Manufacturing innovation trends are having a significant impact on U.S. and global economies. As discussed in this article, companies are becoming more competent and efficient by implementing manufacturing innovation trends such as smart products, flexible automation, advanced robotics, and improved mobility and collaboration.

About the Author Jeremy Axel

Jeremy Axel is the founder of Fluent Conveyors, they design and manufacture conveyors for Waste and recycling industries, Manufacturing, and Distribution centers across the United States. He is also known for building trusted relationships with conveyor dealers and reseller networks and developing advanced technological processes and tools that help them do their jobs more efficiently. 

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