The fourth industrial revolution is underway, but we’re well beyond steam engines: it’s all about tech.
Innovative manufacturing technology is completely transforming production, maintenance, supply chain management, field service and even employee training.
Dubbed Industry 4.0, this new wave of interconnectivity and information isn’t something your business can afford to miss.
What manufacturing company doesn’t want to see greater productivity, fewer errors and more revenue? This is exactly what Industry 4.0 promises to deliver, and numerous businesses are already seeing the benefits. Manufacturers are moving away from outdated systems and embracing “smart” connected technologies and cloud environments. They’re closing skill gaps to enable faster output, and approaching the dream of error-free production.
The industrial manufacturing trends of 2019 and upcoming 2020 innovations are creating opportunities for humans and machines to “collaborate” in new ways.
Leveraging the combined power of human and technological efficiency, new manufacturing technologies fine-tune critical processes, delivering feedback in the form of real-time data analytics. This data enables manufacturers to stay in consistent communication with suppliers and customers. It also adds visibility along the supply chain, allowing for new levels of personalization.
To realize the full benefit of modern devices and systems in manufacturing environments, you need a strategic combination of technologies. Building agile systems today prepares your business to adopt new innovations and continue improving operations over time.
Interconnectivity is a driving force in manufacturing technology, and the industry is ready to invest $267 billion in internet of things solutions by 2020.
Thirty-one percent of production processes and equipment already incorporate some kind of smart device. Embedding IoT into production gives machines the power to make autonomous “decisions” and adjustments to optimize output and send advanced alerts when signs of problems are detected. Monitoring inventory levels with IoT enables more efficient ordering, allowing companies to operate uninterrupted without large stockpiles of supplies.
Underutilized systems are inefficient systems, and nothing threatens productivity like poor resource allocation. The average factory is only using about 60% of its total capacity, meaning you’re probably far from making the most of your facility. Adding IoT devices to your manufacturing process puts digital “eyes” on everything in the form of sensors, which are always collecting information.
Analyzing this information gives you greater visibility into areas where processes could be improved to increase output. Employee data, such as frequency of illness and injuries, can pinpoint and correct potential safety hazards, improving the overall work environment.
A natural extension of advanced analytics, predictive analytics makes use of collective data to support proactive responses. This is helpful in several ways, including ordering, production speed, production volume and cost analysis. When you know how long it takes to get supplies from your vendors and the average amount of time required to manufacture a given number of products, you can provide customers with more accurate quotes. Predicting demand allows for smarter resource allocation and cuts costs related to overproduction.
Manufacturers are also using analytics for predictive maintenance. Smart technologies can “learn” the patterns indicative of proper machine function, using past data to recognize and flag problematic changes in performance.
Approaching maintenance this way can reduce downtime by 50% and slash related costs by as much as 40%. Parts known to wear out more quickly can be ordered long before machinery breaks down, thus reducing the potential for downtime.
Investing in cloud-based software solutions centralizes manufacturing processes and improves accessibility. Cloud environments make it possible to share information across devices within the network, while enabling the storage and analysis of the impressive amounts of data IoT devices collect. Because information in the cloud is stored in offsite servers, your team can access critical data across platforms as needed.
Cloud solutions are scalable, customizable and equipped to integrate with a variety of devices. New developments in edge computing bring processing power closer to IoT devices, reducing latency and improving response times.
Switching to the cloud also improves day-to-day management of business processes. With financial information, employee data and manufacturing analytics from all areas of the company available in one place, you can make informed, up-to-date decisions to manage your resources and workforce more efficiently.
Augmented reality increases the potential of your production facilities and empowers workers with more autonomy. Using AR, you can:
Faster prototyping reduces costs and gets products to market sooner. 3D printers are leading the way as the best tools for the job.
Combining 3D printing technology with AR makes it possible for your company to create inexpensive test models from a variety of materials, and troubleshoot potential issues before producing on a larger scale. Testing these models gives you an idea of any special supplies or tools you’ll need for the final product to be successful, cutting down on costs associated with trial and error.
AR enhances engineering and design processes to make customization more accessible and affordable. Manufacturing smaller runs of custom products is cheaper with 3D printing. Bringing this technology on board helps you expand your production capabilities and break into new markets using inexpensive equipment.
Tech is an investment that pays off for manufacturing companies, which currently put between 1.4 and 3.2% of their revenue toward IT. That’s a lot of money to tie up in new equipment & software, but the benefits are too great to ignore. New tech streamlines every aspect of your operation, putting you ahead of competitors who are lagging behind.
Small business equipment financing can cover the cost of investing in the latest manufacturing technologies, putting the best solutions in your hands as soon as they become available. Let National Business Capital & Services expedite the process with eQuickment financing, an exclusive product created to deliver funds to your business in less than 48 hours. With the funds you need, you can get started changing the game in your factory (and driving higher profits) right away!
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Megan Capobianco is the Marketing Manager at National Business Capital & Services. Megan is passionate about helping business owners along their journey - providing them with relevant content they can use in their day-to-day operations.