A number of evolving trends and technologies will likely have a profound impact on manufacturers this year. According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), here are five to watch in the near term:
Intelligent Manufacturing – Defined as a large-scale integration of cutting-edge artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing technology and processes, intelligent manufacturing helps companies optimize organizational systems, improve product quality, increase the efficient allocation of resources and positively impact customer service. Integrated systems can now enable communication and collaboration between equipment and people, creating customized products with the efficiency of mass production. By fostering the development of a connected ecosystem of people and equipment communicating in real time, manufacturers are poised to better meet the needs of the industries they serve while simultaneously reducing cost and inefficiencies.
Data Utilization -- Simply managing the mounds of data generated by manufacturing processes is not enough anymore. Companies need to go beyond storing information and consider how best to use it to gain insights into their businesses and make actionable and informed decisions about their future. Organizational data can be overwhelming to manage, but leading companies are establishing processes and investing in tools to help increase profits and productivity. As technology continues to develop and evolve, opportunities related to data utilization will become more prevalent.
The Internet of Things (IoT) -- The ever-developing Internet of Things has turned traditional supply chains into interconnected and dynamic systems and has fundamentally changed the way products are made, increased organizational efficiency, improved organizational safety and reduced organizational costs and complexity. The Internet of Things is poised to impact enterprise business models, potentially leading to more high-value equipment being leased as opposed to being sold outright. The machinery of the future could be outfitted with built-in sensors and marketed as both a product and as service. Equipment owners could then monitor it remotely and provide maintenance, repairs and necessary upgrades automatically, allowing end users to focus on work instead of worrying about the condition of the equipment.
Workforce Training -- There's no overstating the seriousness of the manufacturing industry's skilled worker shortage in 2019. Manufacturing employs roughly 9% of the U.S. workforce, yet it is increasingly unable to fill necessary positions with qualified people. As it stands, there are three times as many open skilled labor positions than are being filled. By investing in training and education, key stakeholders inside and outside the manufacturing industry can connect with the workforce of tomorrow, inspire them to strongly consider a career as skilled workers and develop them into qualified employees.
Artificial Intelligence -- In the near future, manufacturing facilities will evolve into connected networks of people and machines with supply chain assets, design teams, production and quality control, all integrated into a highly intelligent engine that monitors everything and provides actionable data and insights. Artificial intelligence comes in many forms in manufacturing facilities, including virtual reality, automation, IoT infrastructure and robotics. While there are concerns about AI eventually replacing human workers, the technology will drive increased efficiency and productivity. By incorporating AI to help manage operational assets, companies are free to focus their time, effort and resources on product innovation and other key strategic priorities.
For more information, visit: www.aem.org