How Technology Is Transforming The Manufacturing Industry?

The Manufacturing industry contributes to a staggering $2.17 trillion of the US economy. The sector has seen its fair share of ups and downs due to offshoring and job cuts over the last two decades. However, technology driven innovation has started to transform the face of the manufacturing industry in terms of how products are conceptualized, manufactured and distributed. Technology promises a bright future for Manufacturing – a future full of smart, connected assets and operations which offer a huge potential for productivity gains, cost savings with sustainable as well as profitable growth. Experts term it as the 4th Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0 – referring it to the combination of several major technology innovations, all maturing simultaneously, and expected to have significant impact on the sector.

It is predicted that US will surpass China as the no. 1 country for Manufacturing by 2020. India’s Manufacturing sector has the potential to touch US$ 1 trillion by 2025, following the ‘Make in India’ movement.

According to the Society of automotive engineers, 90% of all products will be developed virtually in the coming years. Right from product ideation to shipping, everything will be automated along the digital thread.

Manufacturing giants are leveraging newer technologies – including sophisticated sensors, cloud computing, advanced robotics and artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things—when combined together integrate the physical and virtual worlds to empower people and their ecosystems.

Let us look at some of the new technologies which are transforming the Manufacturing industry:

  • Internet of Things: IoT helps manufacturers to bring about process transformation in terms of reduction in resource consumption, low production costs, increased productivity with operational efficiency and better control over supply-chain management. Similarly manufacturers can use IoT to improve product quality, increase product availability and make use of actual data to drive the future of next generation product design. Some of the biggest companies using IoT include AWS, AT&T, Bosch and Cisco.
  • Cloud Computing: Cloud Computing has helped manufacturers to look beyond cost savings and increasing efficiency, they can leverage the Cloud to add agility and versatility to existing processes so that they can respond to market changes and beat competition.
  • Big data: With the help of big data analysis, companies can capture and analyze their products- predict product demand and production, understand plant performance across different metrics and provide efficient services to their customers
  • Augmented Reality: Augmented reality helps manufacturers to solve daily shop floor problems through real-time monitoring of worker tasks, prevent errors by effective training, issue safety warnings and capture data for statistical analysis.
  • Machine Learning: Manufacturers can integrate machine learning into their operations to detect process glitches and gain greater insights into production processes.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Robotics: Artificial intelligence driven by robots with physical and cognitive capabilities can be used in place of humans in manufacturing processes to simulate complex systems, work in hazardous manufacturing environments such as mining, material handling, space research etc. The US robotics market is expected to grow by 12% by 2020.

With applications in the areas of programming robots, 3D printing, simulations, manufactures are able to better connect with the suppliers, the distributers and ultimately with the customers. With innovative supply chain strategies, manufacturers are able to track processes, respond to market changes at lower costs and make sustainable use of resources.  Thus manufacturing companies embracing digital transformation can achieve exponential growth opportunities, while those resisting change may see it as a threat and lose out in the long run. Just like other industries, digital transformation is no longer an option but the need of the hour for manufacturing industry.