The future of manufacturing is here already, predictive analytics, the cloud, connected facilities, and more advanced robotic systems than you can count, are all taking manufacturing to the next level. There is so much out there it would be impossible for most manufacturers to acquire it all, and many wouldn’t need all of it to improve their manufacturing processes. Choosing the right technology for a specific manufacturing operation is essential to get the most out of any technology purchased.
You can find out the right steps a manufacturer should take when investing into new technology here:
But we will now go over some of the most sought after technology manufacturers have their eyes on, and how these new systems can benefit a manufacturing operation.
Enterprise Resource Planning Software
ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning software is a tool many manufacturers have been using for years. This management software is usually a suite of integrated applications that the manufacturer can use to collect, store, manage and analyze data from day-to-day businesses activities. Information like product planning, cost, and shipping information can all be streamlined and readily available, marketing and sales departments can benefit from this technology as well. ERP offers a way for a manufacturer to know exactly what is happening throughout their entire business with a click of a mouse. Any essential employee can have access through the portal and stay up-to-date with the latest changes going on throughout the company in real-time. Everyone can be connected and in the know, so no one ever misses a deadline because of a lack of communication.
Sensors / Analytics
Sensors are becoming a staple of the 21st century manufacturer. New, more advanced, sensors are more affordable and able to be implanted in nearly everything imaginable. These sensors gather an incredible amount of data, information ranging from temperature, vibrations to location and everything in between. Manufacturers can use these sensors to gather all of this information and then send it to a program or entity that will be in charge of analyzing it all. The information gathered can alert technicians if a machine is in need of repair or if a malfunction is about to occur. It knows this by utilizing predictive analytics. If a machine is running extremely hot or vibrating more than usual, it can indicate that there is something wrong before the machine actually breaks down. This allows manufacturers to schedule downtime for repairs instead of going offline during peak production hours.
This technology can also be used to track and monitor products while they’re being shipped, even if the intended location is half way around the world. Sensors outfitted with GPS can let a manufacturer know exactly where their product is and then they can relay this information to their customer. This not only improve the manufacturers ability to track their products but gives them the opportunity to offer more customer support to their clients, another important trend coming to the manufacturing industry. Customer support is a really important thing in any business, to help make this a lot easier though, businesses should make sure that they make use of things like customer service software, to help their business get to number one.
3D printing is a big one. Manufacturers, large and small are all trying to find out how they can best make use of this incredible technology. 3D printing or additive manufacturing is the process of creating a product by extruding a material (metals, plastics, exc.) through a nozzle, layer by layer to build the product from the ground up. The 3D image of the product or component will be created digitally and the machine will take this digital design and create a physical product. With more materials available, industrial manufacturers are beginning to pay attention. Components and products can be lighter and just as strong as those created through traditional subtractive manufacturing processes. 3D printing allows manufacturers to create complex products with fewer components because it can be built layer by layer which can reduce the need to fasten multiple components together.
Many manufacturers have already been using 3D printing for rapid prototyping but now with metal 3D printing and more advanced plastic materials available, end use products are now a possibility. Still the process is a bit slow for mass production, but when manufacturing a small amount of complex components additive manufacturing might be the best option. The technology is in its new form of infancy, developed in the 80’s this technology is not new but the recent acceleration of the technology has breathed new life into this once impractical piece of machinery.
Communication is crucial for any business to thrive. Now it is increasingly easier to get in touch with anyone around the world in an instant. Mobile technology has brought with it something incredible, beyond a phone call or text, mobile alerts can be set up to grab the attention of essential personal if something is wrong or as simple as a delivery arriving. Reading this Guide to mobile field service software would be particularly valuable for anyone connected to the Field Service Industry. Mobile alerts should be taken extremely seriously because with all of this data being collected and analyzed, if it just sits in an inbox and no one looks at it for a week it doesn’t do a business any good. On the other hand, if an alert is sent directly to an employee’s phone, something most people are looking at every hour of the day, it will be hard to miss. If a machine goes down an alert can be sent to all the mobile phones belonging to the maintenance department and they can be on site before anyone has the chance to pick up a phone or send an email.
Alerts can be set up for almost anything, with all this data to choose from, manufacturers have the choice to decide what information is important enough to warrant a mobile alert. This can have a drastic impact on the ability for a company to run efficiently and handle any problems or issues as soon as they occur.
Technology is everywhere in the modern world. If manufacturers take advantage of the technology that is readily available, they will begin to see the benefits and be able to create a more efficient and productive manufacturing facility than they could have ever imagined. But before diving into the deep end of manufacturing technology, it is incredibly important to make sure you’re choosing the right tech for the job. Not all technology is created equal and the same goes for manufacturers, you wouldn’t use a wrench to secure a nail. Technology will help manufacturers reach a level of efficiency that is not possible without it, but ensuring you choose the best technology for your business is crucial.