14 Manufacturing Technology Trends That Will Rule The Future

Anu Singh

Anu Singh

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: July 9, 2021

Manufacturing agility will be the norm in 2021 and the years to come- Deloitte.

Advances in technology are changing the way every industry operates. As manufacturers are looking for ways to stay competitive in the marketplace, they are looking for systems to simplify their workflows. 

Looking for Manufacturing Software? Check out SoftwareSuggest’s list of the best manufacturing software solutions.

To save you the effort, we have compiled a list of trends that will impact manufacturing technology in the years to come. Ready? Let’s dive in!

Top 14 Manufacturing Technology Trends

1. Accessible Automation

While automation in manufacturing technology is not entirely new, its widespread adoption is. But, what does this mean?

It means new technologies have made automation more accessible to manufacturers and are changing the way organizations operate. “Automation for all” is the next big step in the industry!

Robotic solutions, user-friendly manufacturing process management (MPM) systems, and human-robot collaboration are key drivers behind this change. Furthermore, manufacturing automation is helping companies optimize workflows, reduce costs, and increase their bottom line.

2. Rise of Mobile Robotics

Robotic shipments are said to increase by 4.6% between 2021-2024

The use of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and other technology in manufacturing is making automation possible for companies of all sizes. 

It is reinventing the way workers operate within the industry and helping them navigate their ways and deal with changing customer demands. Autonomous mobile robots let you customize frameworks and fit most of the applications so that you can manufacture all kinds of products.

3. Advent of Internet of Things (IoT)

Forbes suggests that $267 billion will be invested in IoT by 2021, and 50% of that will be focussed on manufacturing, logistics, and transportation. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) will help you monitor and connect various components of their operations and get access to data-driven insights, which was not possible before. This, in turn, will let you optimize, improve and revamp the existing manufacturing technology and processes. 

Moreover, IoT has also led to the use of intelligent sensors and is facilitating cloud connectivity. More manufacturers are improving safety measures, improving safety, and even creating new products with IoT capabilities. 

4. Enterprise Resource Planning

While Enterprise resource planning system has impacted technology in manufacturing for several years, it is now gaining more popularity with cloud-based SaaS options. Not only are these solutions easier to deploy, but they are more affordable for small businesses. 

But, how can they help you come out from manufacturing industry challenges

Well, these systems let you automate different areas of operations under one single unit. As a result, you can easily gain access to information and get visibility of the entire manufacturing operation as and when needed. Besides, you can easily make improvements and adjustments to the existing system.

5. Universal Connectability

Earlier, technology and innovation in the manufacturing space were built as a one-size-fits-all solution. Your operations had to be molded as per the technology. The result? Your options were limited, and certain facilities were unavailable.

 Luckily, new manufacturing technology is observing a shift.

We are slowly stepping into the era of universal connectivity. It is the idea that technology is being made available across all devices and systems. As a result, technology makes its way around any manufacturing setup, and you can use it to support various operations. 

Essentially, manufacturing technology can be customized as per your requirements and operational needs without investing in a new system. 

Manufacturing Factory

Source

6. Industry 4.0

While Industry 4.0 is a fancy term, what does this actually mean?

Well, it refers to the inclination for manufacturers towards “smart factories.” Industry 4.0 is the acronym for the fourth manufacturing industrial revolution. The widespread adoption of the cloud, advanced computers, IoT, robotics, and a more competent workforce all contribute towards accelerating Industry 4.0. 

More manufacturers are leveraging these technologies to thrive in the marketplace and stay ahead of competitors.

7. Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

Since companies have access to more data than ever before, thanks to tools like artificial intelligence software and machine learning system, they have a significant impact on manufacturing. But, how does it actually help manufacturers?

Well, AI does not mean walking and talking with robots. Jokes apart, it refers to a system’s ability to recognize trends and come to logical conclusions that will help manufacturers make data-driven decisions. AI and ML can help improve many aspects of manufacturing operations, such as: 

  • Asset tracking
  • Forecasting accuracy
  • Transportation cost reduction
  • Inventory management
  • Supply chain visibility
  • Warehousing cost reduction

Thus, manufacturing technology is all set to see a change with AI and ML in the coming years.

8. Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance is helping manufacturers avoid downtime and catch issues before they arise. Adding it to manufacturing operations can help you save costs and extend the expected life of machinery.

As per a study by McKinsey, predictive maintenance programs will reduce up to 20% of maintenance costs and machine outages by 50%. 

9. Increased Use of Supply Chain Technology

Supply chain operations are being impacted positively by changing technology in manufacturing. Effectively managing the supply chain is essential for manufacturers who wish to cut costs, deliver quality services/ products and guarantee employee satisfaction.

Companies are investing in technology at every step of the manufacturing process. This includes assembly, inventory, procurement, logistics, transportation, and sales process. For instance, adding sensors or barcodes to items lets companies scan and track parts throughout the process and make the necessary improvements.

10. Access to Mobile Manipulators

With time mobile manipulators are gaining popularity in the manufacturing space. You can think of it as the blend of a robotic arm and an ARM. Basically, it is a full mobile and self-navigating robot arm that can perform several operations. Earlier, robotic arms were used as stationary automation tools helping manufacturers in the assembly process. 

However, with newfound mobility, they are being used to automate key manufacturing areas and can easily be optimized for collaboration with the human workforce.

Manufacturing Technology Trends

Source

11. Additive Manufacturing

Manufacturers are using additive manufacturing or 3D printing to custom-build parts and products one layer at a time. But, can it also be used for modeling?

Well, the answer is yes! Additive manufacturing is an excellent tool for creating models, lost- wax castings, prototypes, and finished products. 

It is a fast-growing trend in the industry and will let you save a significant chunk of time and save costs. Moreover, this trend is growing exponentially in the metal fabrication industry and among manufacturers who deal with metal components. 

Besides, new selective laser sintering (SLS) technology for 3D printing metal is helping companies build metal products in-house, eliminating tooling costs and shortening product development time. The exciting part is that 3D printing enables the cost-effective mass production of metal parts, which was earlier impossible.

12. Increasing Acceptance of Collaborative Robots (Cobots)

The addition of robotics and automation has sparked concerns about the possible negative impact on the workforce. However, the reality is far from true. Robots and people are working together collaboratively in factories and warehouses to get more work done faster and with more safety. 

More cobots are being built for factories to improve overall efficiency in the workplace. Furthermore, AMRs are being used with cobots to automate repetitive tasks like moving heavy products while people focus on tasks that require human intervention.

13. Automated Picking

When we talk about cobots (Collaborative Robot), one of the most common uses is to pick products in a logistics setting. In traditional order fulfillment roles, picking products can take up 50% of the time spent in the entire process. 

As per a study by Westernacher Consulting, if a human worker can pick up to 60-80 orders in an hour, a manufacturing ERP system can pick up 300 in the same time frame.

Thus automated picking will leave you enough time to focus on tasks that require skill and improve your logistics.

14. Workforce Attraction, Retention, & Training

It is no longer a secret that manufacturing companies struggle to find skilled and qualified employees. Unfortunately, the industry is also deadline with a workforce shortage. As per Deloitte, 4.6 million manufacturing needs will be needed over the next 10 years, and half of them will not be filled. This comes to a whopping 2.3 million open positions!

As a result, more manufacturing organizations are working on employee satisfaction to attract good talent and retain them. The focus is shifting towards employee empowerment and minimizing physically and mentally demanding tasks. 

With automation tools at work, employees are now focussing on expanding their skill set, working with manufacturing technology to streamline processes and reduce burnout. 

Wrapping Up 

This was all about how technology in manufacturing will shape the future of factories and warehouses. AI, ML, and IoT will let factory owners leave all the heavy and monotonous work on machines and let humans take care of the planning aspect. 

Are you a warehouse/factory owner? Share with us your views on manufacturing technology in the comments below! 

Anu Singh
Anu Singh has worked for known SaaS firms and holds extensive expertise in breaking down technical topics into digestible copies. Her content speaks volume about her creativity and knack for exploring new avenues. When not writing she likes to read novels, hone her editing skills and stay abreast with the latest industry trends.

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