The manufacturing sector has come a long way over the years, switching from traditional processes to automation. It has found ways to increase operational efficiency, expedite production times, reduce costs, and deliver exceptional customer support. The pandemic has taken the tech acceleration a notch higher for the industry. The new normal in manufacturing marks the transition to a new industrial revolution through collaboration between humans and smart systems.
Right now, it is crucial to stay ahead of the latest industry trends and embrace them before your competitors do it. While you must invest in the latest technologies, timing is equally important. Agile early adoption is the only way to sustain in the competitive market and thrive amid uncertain times. Here are the innovative trends that every manufacturing company must consider picking in 2021 and beyond.
Employee safety is a priority
Employee safety is a necessity rather than only a trend for manufacturers in 2021. The sector has always prioritized workplace safety because it is inherently risky as people work with complex machines. But it becomes even more significant in light of the pandemic. Basic precautions such as enforcing social distancing measures and ensuring regular sanitization of workspace give you a good start. However, these are not enough.
You must go the extra mile with monitoring premises access and visitor tracking. You cannot just rely on employee awareness and manual tracking to ensure safety. Implementing facilities maintenance and management solutions is a better approach. Most manufacturers already have these solutions in place, and the others are following suit.
Predictive maintenance is trending
Breakdowns and outages are daunting challenges for manufacturers. A breakdown in critical equipment can lead to expensive repairs, loss of productivity, and downtime. But sadly, you cannot completely steer clear of them. However, you can find ways to ensure that your equipment functions at optimal performance levels at all times. Predictive analytics and maintenance have you covered.
The technology can reduce unplanned outages and prolong machinery life by years. Not surprisingly, it is more trending than ever in the new normal, when downtime seems like a bigger challenge. You can rely on it for monitoring equipment performance and addressing problems even before they arise. It enables you to save time, money, and resources on breakdown repairs.
The Internet of Things is still big
When it comes to manufacturing trends in the new normal, not all are new and fresh. Some have been around for years and have become even more popular this year. One of these is IoT(internet of things), which drives adaptability and innovation for businesses. The technology relies on connected devices that generate data in real-time. Manufacturers can utilize this data to make informed, strategic decisions for achieving goals, such as enhanced efficiency, cost reduction, product innovation, improved safety, and more.
The interest in IoT technology grows as the pandemic fuels the need for automation and remote monitoring. IoT-enabled devices enable you to monitor equipment at a distance and pick potential issues before a malfunction occurs. You can implement predictive solutions and resolve issues faster.
Big Data offers more visibility
Increased emphasis on predictive maintenance and IoT makes Big Data another trending tech this year. Every device and part of the factory becomes a sensor for data collection with the connected approach. You can well imagine the volume, veracity, and velocity of data available with the transition to the new model. Even as this data can offer valuable real-time insights for manufacturers, handling it is a challenge.
If you want to avail yourself of the advantage of Big Data, you have to work on the ability to collect data from diverse sources and slice and dice it properly. Once you manage, it will be easy to get a comprehensive understanding of your business. Better visibility and understanding are a big advantage for any business. You can evaluate, forecast, and plan to create a viable comeback strategy in post-pandemic times.
3D makes production cheaper and faster
3D printing has also been around for decades, but it is a staple manufacturing trend right now. The technology uses product prototyping to test and troubleshoot new products before starting mass production. Moreover, product teams can use it to produce items on demand instead of manufacturing them. It makes the manufacturing process cheaper and faster, matching it with the need of the hour.
Apart from enhancing production, 3D printing has also transformed tooling processes. Traditionally, manufacturers had to wait for months to create molds and jigs for the mass production of heavy equipment. Many even had to avail of expensive outsourcing for the process. However, 3D printing has become a game-changer by enabling them to complete tooling onsite. The good thing is that you can expect to complete it within days and without spending a fortune.
AR and VR support touchless service
The pandemic has affected the field service operation of the manufacturing industry along with the internal operations. Technicians cannot go to job sites as usual for installations and repairs. Fortunately, assistive technology such as AR and VR comes to their rescue. As a manufacturer, you can rely on these technologies to provide remote assistance to customers. AR and VR-enabled guides and walkthroughs can help them with initial installation and basic troubleshooting and repairs.
Even as customers were reluctant about touchless service options earlier, they are keener to embrace the idea. The process reduces the risk of exposure, keeps the customer happy, and opens new lines of business. You can keep the sales thriving and customer trust in place with AR and VR-based service and support. Additionally, you can also embrace these technologies as a workforce training trend.
Navigating the new normal requires manufacturers to take an innovative approach. Thankfully, you have enough options and solutions to sustain and thrive even through the tough times. Everything boils down to picking the right ones and doing it early to stay in the race. Embracing these manufacturing trends is the best place to start, so you must go ahead with them sooner rather than later.