in Industry 4.0, Manufacturers and distributors have access to data on a scale that has never existed before. The two are leveraging the insights gleaned from that access to pursue new innovations in automation and systems that are reshaping the face of these industries. Pairing innovations like these with a robust ERP solution is the most effective way to ensure your business is prepared to address emerging technology trends that can reshape your industry overnight. Learn more about emerging technologies in manufacturing and Industry 4.0 to remain to be the competition, rather than simply competitive.
First, there was industry 1.0, the emergence of mechanization, as well as water-, steam-, and fossil fuel-powered systems. This was followed by mass production of goods, assembly line manufacturing, and electricity powering it all in Industry 2.0. With 3.0 came computers and automation using robotics. Today, we’ve reached the next milestone in revolutionizing Industry. Connecting established trends and emerging technologies between automation and data exchange in manufacturing is Industry 4.0. Also referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, it is focused on bringing cyber-physical systems into the mainstream and placing them at the forefront of the manufacturing industry.
The first Industry 4.0 conference was held last week by Troy, Michigan-based Automation Alley (AA), a non-profit tech and manufacturing business association that connects industry, academia, and government to accelerate innovation in manufacturing. During the conference, a report outlining what AA and industry experts see as the next wave of industry tech to influence innovation emerged. In the report, a roadmap outlined several core technologies that professionals and researchers agree will direct the trajectory of manufacturing in the coming years.
Noting the biggest challenge of innovation on the manufacturing floor as supply-side participants being able to keep up, executive director of Automation Alley Tom Kelly remained optimistic, stating, “The world (of manufacturing) is changing so fast, we can’t assume any company really knows where it’s headed. But based on what’s possible, we hope to help them turn this into action instead of stagnation.” Industry 5.0 has already appeared on the horizon with technologies that are only now being conceptualized and brought into existence.
The full report on AA’s research into industry 4.0 will be released in April 2018 for those who were unable to attend last week’s conference centered on deconstructing the “siloed thinking” of manufacturing in its current state and nurturing the “smart factory” megatrend of connecting machines, workers, and factory systems through the internet and cloud computing.
The Industrial Internet Of Things
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) utilized relevant information and completes essential tasks through smartphones, tablets, and other edge devices. Businesses can use this performance data in real-time to adapt and change their operations into a more streamlined process internally and externally for both short-term and long-term gains. This superior connectivity facilitates faster response times from all departments and brings with it improved agility for operations of every size.
As robots become smarter, cheaper, and more efficient in their roles on the factory floor, these entities will command a greater presence in shaping the manufacturing industry. Advances in robotics technology allow these machines to take on more complex traits, including machine learning, heightened dexterity, memory, and the ability to collaborate more effectively. As a result, robots will usher in a new set of standards that every manufacturer will need to adopt to remain relevant.
Commonly the subject of doomsday scenario horror films, AI is nothing to discount as the stuff of science fiction gone wrong. The technology is already in our daily lives in the form of self-driving cars and industrial robotics. In manufacturing applications, the technology will become the new standard by which large sets of data are analyzed and predictive maintenance is undergone. In short, companies will have no choice but to “go digital” in order to survive.
The means by which we capture data and store it is changing by the day. The even more complex and daunting tasks are how to sift through it and how to identify the relevant bits for different applications. New standards in search, sharing, transfer, visualization, querying, updating and information privacy are emerging as a result. To keep up with the data, rather than being mired in it, manufacturers will need to adopt more robust technologies than traditional data processing software, which is where specialized ERP solutions give your business the critical edge it needs to succeed. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is one more example of how automation technologies are increasing productivity and how we manage data in the manufacturing environment.
In many circles, the cloud is considered a four-letter word. The technology is new and traditional operators across industries are skeptical of its intangible nature. It is not maintained locally and can’t be monitored, stored or secured using traditional methods. That being said, Cloud-based technology is how the companies of the future will operate as it allows in-house users and remote workforces to collaborate in real-time more effectively than with traditional data systems. The cloud approach is faster, improves manageability, and reduces maintenance.
As more and more operations move toward cloud-based solutions and rely more heavily on a robotic workforce, maintaining the security and integrity of these systems becomes a much larger issue. In fact, cybersecurity in the manufacturing sector is listed as the highest priority of the National Association of Manufacturers. Industrial control systems are among the most sensitive targets, which is the class of computers that help to manage the shop floor. As more manufacturers simultaneously build and integrate their systems through the industrial Internet of Things, more opportunities for threats emerge.
Advanced Materials And Additive Manufacturing
An emerging advanced manufacturing technology, you might know Advanced Materials And Additive Manufacturing by the more common name of 3D printing. A process that used to take weeks to accomplish on a small scale, 3D printing can know construct large and complex structures, like housing, in less than a day. Organic compounds, custom plastics, and a host of other materials can be utilized in the process, harmonizing product and nature through innovation.
Modeling, Simulation, Visualization, And Immersion
Analyzing, manipulating, and leveraging data is essential when it comes to making decisions on the future of any business. With new forms of visualization, simulation, and interaction available at the press of a button, businesses can leverage the latest technology to more effectively review, report, and forecast using their data. 3D visualization, virtual reality, and immersion tools are just a few of the innovations available to a host of businesses that rely on massive amounts of data daily, including manufacturing, healthcare, sciences, finance, and energy. Beyond data, these innovations and associated tools help develop tech and lead teams to greater success rates with more thorough and effective preparation for mission-critical tasks.
About Encompass Solutions
Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.