As the world economy has become more organized and connected, consumer demand has undergone a sea change to become more diverse. The product cycles are becoming shorter and every company is driven by a need to get products to the market speedily. To capitalize on these changes the new entrants in the industry are operating with an entirely different set of rules. Efficiency and quality are no longer the differentiators but agility, customization, and speedy response are all becoming table stakes for manufacturing leadership.
Building Products in the Cloud
Factories environments are driving advancements in cloud computing and smart sensors in addition to robotics and virtual reality. Smart sensors can accomplish tasks such as changing data into meaningful information, processing the feedback mechanism and halting the devices in case of any safety issues. Cloud computing empowers companies with valuable information that affects the production line. As customer feedbacks increase, the analysis will have a significant impact on the development of the business. Giving consumers the products of their choice specifications, delivering it to them quickly and meanwhile reducing the costs in the process will ultimately result in a system that creates the environment for innovation. IoT functionality can track the process trends and analyze the production, consolidate control rooms and create models of predictive maintenance.
Tailored Production with Cloud and Mobility
Cloud computing has made it possible to create a single source of digital reality from fragmented and disparate records. The information sources were often paper-based or housed in disconnected computer systems spread across different locations. The proliferation of mobile devices in parallel leads to a more sophisticated networked workforce. People working on such networks can access the single source from anywhere making decision-making faster and transparent. Moreover, advances in analytics can generate meaningful information from these massive data sets to generate relevant reports. The tailored production scenario can be exactly pictured at any point of time in real-time for accurate decision making.
The workforce of Industry 4.0 Level
Data analysis using smart equipment can build a better manufacturing sector. While there are still some concerns like the robots displacing manual jobs, the growth prospects are quite strong. Industry 4.0 workforces are more capable and powerful than humans or robots loaded with the current technology. Most of the automation is done in works that are considered unsafe for humans or beyond the human capacity. Thus the workforce level of industry 4.0 will augment the powers of robotic technology with human creativity. Robots will rather be complementary to humans rather than being a replacement for humans.
There was a paradigm shift for workforce from farm to factory in the early 20th century. Similarly, almost every sector will need new kinds of workers to deal with changes that come along the intelligent factories. Those who can build hardware, software, design automation and robotics, adapt and maintain new equipment will be in demand. Millions of new jobs will be created in the world over the next decade as a direct result of automation and artificial intelligence. A shift to smart manufacturing will save the business corporations money and translate into greater profits, more jobs, and healthier economies. A more complex age of machines will emerge and so do the workers and they will produce together all that is needed.
Manufacturing trends are stimulated by both innovation and market deviations. Innovation enables connectivity and collection of information is made possible by industrial automation. Manufacturers have greater control of shop floor automation for mass customization. The consumers’ desire for more unique, tailored products means that they have to produce with a lot size of as low as one product. The rapid evolution of additive manufacturing through 3D printers is opening a whole new dimension of industrialization.
Micro-scale manipulations are very time consuming and need a high-end robots to perform complex tasks with meticulous precision. An international team of developers recently created a light-based manipulation platform which could one day be used to manufacture electronic components for use in smartphones and computers. The light-based method relies on devices known as optical traps which use light to manipulate small objects in liquid.
The production of items like circuit boards on a mass scale can be done at much lower cost and at much more rapid speed. The components within the digital systems are getting smaller by the day and it is becoming increasingly difficult and time-consuming process to manufacture such delicate products. Micromanipulation methods such as manufacturing with light-based technology can provide a better alternative. Currently, the process is carried out by the team of robots specially designed and programmed for minute parts of circuits.
New Factories – Speedy, Smart and Intelligent
Factories are moving beyond the basic automation levels that were used in the past. They are about to integrate technology into every part of the manufacturing process in the coming years. The new manufacturing model of these Smart factories will be fully connected, hyper-efficient, and flexible. It will run on technologies like virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things.
The New Era Begins with Intelligent Factory
The factory of the future will be far better at producing things that are inexpensive and more environments friendly compared to their present versions. Decreased labor costs, increased efficiency, and reduced waste will further enhance productivity. Customers can expect a greater quality in their products from improved quality control measures in production lines of intelligent factories.
The efforts are now already directed towards building an intelligent factory. For instance, Adidas has opened its first Speed factory in Germany recently to deliver trendy shoes rapidly and economically. The ability to customize their own products and the fast service are the key elements of the Speed factory for consumers. This kind of service was not available before and manufacturing was rigid to mass produce same set of predesigned shoes. It is a win-win situation for both consumers and the companies as low-cost and reliable products can be supplied effortlessly. The incorporation of novel technologies within the factory will herald a new era of manufacturing.