The Future of Manufacturing and How to Be Ready

There are several names for the impending industrial revolution: Smart Manufacturing, Digital Enterprise, and Industry 4.0. No matter what you call it, it’s all about the rapidly-changing disruptive technologies that are already starting to churn up the waters of manufacturing.

The biggest signifier of the changes to come is the convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT), meaning that the world of the virtual is colliding with the world of the physical. This has been predicted to increase efficiency and streamline the production process, but what does the data show?

According to the American Society for Quality’s recent study, the manufacturers surveyed who have begun to implement smart tech reported the following:

82% found increased efficiency
49% found lower product defects
45% found customer satisfaction gains

It makes sense: mobile and social tech streamlined training and shop floor tracking, robotics and automation revolutionized productivity and workflow, cloud computing created a space to store massive amounts of data, 3D printing transformed production and interaction with consumers, and the Internet of Things continues to stagger with its potential to allow machines to collect and share data with each other in real time.

There is no conclusive checklist of tools that must be integrated in order for one’s company to be considered a smart manufacturer. Some companies will need to deploy many forms of new tech while others will be able to use only two or three disruptive technologies and still maintain a strong market position. The important thing is to do your research and learn about these new tools. Figure out what could help your particular shop floor and interact with your teams to see what would really help in the long run. The future is now, let’s get involved in the revolution!


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