10 future trends in production and manufacturing

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Manufacturers are moving from manual labor to machine-dependent assembly lines to highly automated factories, we see this trend today – and the industry is changing.

Several trends are merging to change production, often referred to as “Industry 4.0”. Let’s take a look at the seven key themes that drive Industry 4.0. Manufacturers are moving from manual labor to machine-dependent assembly lines to the highly automated factories we see more and more of today.

1. Industrial IoT (IIoT)

You’ve heard of the Internet of Things. Now there is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), where networked devices collect data to improve manufacturing processes.

2. Sensors are a classic example of IIoT devices.

Data from production equipment sensors can help growers assess many things. Starting with machine performance, improving maintenance, reducing downtime and even predicting machine breakdowns. Here then is the next substantial industry trend.

5G & edge computing, the fifth generation of mobile data networks (5G), will allow manufacturers to quickly link IIoT devices. They operate the collection and processing of data within them (edge ​​computing). Manufacturers can build a private 5G network on their premises for super-fast communication speeds and greater data security.

3. Predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance uses sensor data and artificial intelligence (AI) to uncover equipment and component failure trends. The idea is that by knowing when a machine or part is likely to fail, growers can better maintain their equipment. And it’s not just about flashy new gear.

Siemens claims to have used similar sensors on older motors and gearboxes. As a result, this equipment can analyze sensor data to diagnose problems and rectify equipment before it breaks. This shows how manufacturers can use predictive maintenance on older machines.

4th trend: digital twins

A digital twin mimics any process or physical object and in manufacturing, a digital twin can mimic the dimensions of a new product. Therefore, it generates a digital clone of industrial equipment to test its performance in various situations.

The digital twin can even visualize and mimic a supply chain. By 2022, up to 70% of manufacturers could use digital twins. They will use them for simulations and evaluations. Illustrating how disruptive the development of digital twinning could be.

Boeing has improved component quality by 40% with digital twins. Ten years ago, Dennis Muilenburg, then CEO of Boeing, claimed that digital twins would be the single most important driver for increasing manufacturing efficiency.

5. Extended Reality and Metaverse

Technologies such as augmented and virtual reality will become more prevalent in manufacturing, improving product design and production planning, supplementing human talent on assembly lines, and improving training.

Therefore, makers will have additional trending possibilities as the metaverse expands.

6. Dark Factories

Computers can now perform activities once reserved for humans thanks to AI. So it makes sense that the machines do more production.

Automation can increase manufacturing productivity (devices don’t get tired), accuracy, and reduce costs. Therefore, we may see more fully automated or dark factories, where manufacturing takes place without direct human interaction.

7. Cobots and robots

Robots are a crucial enabler of automation. However, automation manufacturers have not designed all robots to replace human labor. Automation designers have created many bots to help people. For example, robotic exoskeletons help workers move larger parts safely.

We also have intelligent, collaborative robots (cobots) designed to work with people.

Robots and cobots can help factories save money. Nissan used robotic arms from Universal Robots at its Japanese engine manufacturing plants to help maintain production schedules (mainly due to labor shortages). However, Nissan has used cobots to help with activities such as installing engine intakes.

8th trend: 3D printing

Manufacturers will increasingly be able to build objects using 3D printing processes, which require fewer resources and waste than conventional production methods. Therefore, some people believe that 3D printing will usher in a new era of customization as it eliminates the need for economies of scale. Additionally, rapid prototyping with 3D printing can boost creativity.

Additionally, Airbus has been using 3D printing for nearly 15 years, making it a manufacturing pioneer.

The company uses 3D printing trends to manufacture localized tools on demand, such as jigs and fittings.

9. Web3 and Blockchain

With the trend of Web3 and distributed computing technologies like blockchains and non-fungible tokens, manufacturers will better monitor their supply chains and even automate many transactions. Therefore, automation designers will come up with many future items using NFT digital certifications.

10. More innovative and sustainable goods

The rise of smart connected IoT devices is redefining the way designers make things. Moreover, also what they do. Everything from vacuum cleaners to toilets now has “smart” versions, and the search for smart items shows no signs of stopping.

Manufacturers will therefore have to find new ways to provide consumers with the smart items they want. In addition, people will increasingly choose recyclable, reusable and environmentally friendly items.

The disposable mentality of the past is hopefully coming to an end; therefore, manufacturers will also need to consider this. Remember, all that glitters is not shiny.

Image Credit: Moose Photos; pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Editor-in-chief at ReadWrite

Deanna is the editor of ReadWrite. Previously, she worked as an editor for Startup Grind and has over 20 years of experience in content management and development.

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