Challenging the boundaries of manufacturing
Manufacturers have been known to be fossilized plants that have historically remained unchanged. However, there is no longer a place for traditional manufacturing approaches which can no longer keep pace with this new consumer-driven age. In order for manufacturers to keep delivering value to customers through product quality, there will be a need for complete reinvention to how we approach manufacturing. Through technology they are able to deliver products and services that are tailored specifically to the needs of the customer. It has been noted that labor costs also continue to rise while customer demand stays the same. This has thus made automation the next best solution if not the only viable option for most.
We are already seeing the shift in other industries, where automation was previously unthought-of. Thanks to digitalization, we now have hybrid and electric cars, as well as the driverless car, which shows an unprecedented change in the way things are done. With the likes of technologies such as the HoloLens, our factories will never look the same. A big chunk of the manufacturing and operational processes is becoming self-healing and self-learning very quickly. Many manufacturers are moving towards advanced analytics and mixed reality simulation to make work more efficient and simpler.
Shorten and maximize production
Unexpected downtime of one piece of equipment can impact productivity for the business as a whole. For a company that just decided to use 3D printing, this means they will not be requiring any special new tooling to make a part. They are able to make a prototype on their own saving a lot of time, money, and effort that would normally be spent on production and set up.
Money and time are two imperative things in the manufacturing process. Therefore, by embedding Industry 4.0 technologies such as sensors and analytics into machinery, manufacturers can actually predict when a breakdown is coming and stop it in time. Technology then becomes the main way to prevent things going wrong in the manufacturing processes.
Moreover, through technology, a manufacturing company’s support technicians can quickly become instant experts who can provide high-quality, personalized advice as the focus will be more on providing the customer with great service as opposed to focusing more on meeting daily targets. Traditional manufacturing organizations, with a heavy focus on operational efficiency, must now redirect their focus to keep pace with customer needs by creating new revenue streams through product-based services. The overall aim of digital manufacturing is to shorten reaction and production times while maximizing quality and cost-effectiveness. There is no doubt that in the future, digital manufacturing will enable other benefits as well.
The CEOs of today are now investing in technology more and pushing the boundaries with the way they operate. While each region takes its time with warming up to these technologies, there is no doubt that the traditional approaches are fast approaching their expiration date. Even though technology comes with its challenges, the impressive results outweigh them. Maybe in future we will be able to not only see into the production process remotely but also addressing problems that arise and optimize the business even further.
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