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Key trends transforming manufacturing in 2018

18 December, 2017
Key trends transforming manufacturing in 2018

Digital transformation has been a key trend for 2017 and will continue to disrupt manufacturing processes into 2018, if you haven’t already, it is time to embrace the change and take advantage of the new opportunities that it brings.

New advances in technology will enable manufacturers to work smarter in 2018 and beyond, streamlining processes and increasing the efficiency of operations, with real time data at the forefront, reshaping and strengthening the relationship between business and IT. Many manufacturers are already preparing for a data-driven future, improving their productivity to gain a competitive advantage on their rivals.


Below are four trends that manufacturers should invest in to ensure their success in 2018.


IoT continues to improve decision making


The rise of IoT is showing no signs of slowing next year, as it  enables smarter manufacturing. By gathering data on manufacturing processes, through embedded sensors on machinery and other objects connected back to the internet, manufacturers will see improvements across their whole supply chain. One of the biggest wins for manufacturers will be predictive maintenance, as decisions and forecasting will be based off hard-evidence rather than hunches and guesswork. The real-time feedback available through using IoT, allows managers to maintain optimum operating levels and maximise productivity. For example, through the successful implementation of smart software, King's Hawaiian, a Californian-based bakery, were able to produce and additional 180,000 pounds of bread every day! Essentially, IoT allows organisations to be more proactive with their decision-making, ensuring accuracy and maximum efficiency every time.


The robots are coming


It is estimated that global spending on robotics will reach $67 billion, of this $24.4 billion will be in the manufacturing industry.


One of the benefits of implementing robotics is that human-error is minimised due to increased precision, as well as from a safety aspect. Furthermore, unlike humans, robots can operate 24/7 continuously performing complex tasks, which can give the manufacturing supply chain a boost! It's not all doom and gloom for employees though, whilst the rise of robotics could eliminate jobs, it also creates jobs. Forrester Research has estimated that there will be close to 15 million new jobs over the next decade, these will likely include programmers and maintenance engineers.


3D printing improves competitive advantage


3D printing has evolved rapidly over the years and heavily impacts manufacturing processes. With just one machine, manufacturers can build a wide variety of products delivering affordable customisation for consumers; it also allows businesses to be more agile with production as they can create products on demand.


Organisations that plan to adopt 3D printing will be able to cut out more of the ‘traditional’ supply-chain processes. Bypassing these processes will cut costs significantly, keeping more money in your back pocket.  


Augmented reality improves efficiencies


Through augmented reality, users can visualise simulated realities over real world objects.


Graphics are layered showing a personalised experience for consumers where necessary, tailoring to specific  business needs. As an example, augmented reality can be applied to training, vastly improving adoption times of new products or processes.


An example of how AR can be used in a factory setting, is demonstrated in a video about DHL, which they produced to show order-picking. The video explores how AR technology helps employees be more efficient when locating products in a DHL warehouse. This way of working could easily be adapted to fit other areas in the supply chain of manufacturers, such as product development or maintenance. Ultimately, its use will save time, and money.


2018 is set to be an exciting year for the manufacturing industry!


Share your views…


What do manufacturers need to do to race ahead of their competition?


Which technologies would you advise manufacturers to invest in to ensure success?


Columbus, in conjunction with The Manufacturer are conducting a research report to understand what manufacturers need to invest in to survive - and thrive - to 2020 and beyond. You can share your views, and be included in our publication here. 

Categories: Manufacturing, Digital Transformation