As we continue to dive deeper into Industry 4.0, the state of manufacturing is largely the same as it was several years ago. Recently, I came across an article on Forbes titled: Top 5 Digital Transformation Trends In Manufacturing For 2020 written by Daniel Newman. In this piece, he talked about a significant difference in the perception vs. reality regarding the state of manufacturing.
The manufacturing sector still has the same goals but the approaches within the industry have changed. The number of firms using AI and IoT technologies in their processes continues to grow rapidly. Company goals are shifting in response to a new type of consumer that expects: (1) higher quality services and goods that can be produced, (2) delivered at a faster clip, and (3) manufactured with responsible practices. This puts pressure on companies to look for different approaches and solutions to fill customer needs. Additionally, companies are realizing that embracing AI and IoT technologies can be a prudent financial decision as well. This is especially true because they can now reduce equipment downtime, cut down on waste, and improve their ability to predict maintenance breaks. It’s estimated that just 60 minutes of downtime can be equal to a $100,000 loss in a manufacturing environment.
The article brings up many relevant points in the manufacturing sector, but three distinct pieces of information stood out to me. These trends will significantly impact the industry in 2020 and beyond:
- Manufacturing Is Fully Embracing The Automation Of Routine Tasks
90% of manufacturing companies in the United States have fewer than 500 employees. To some observers, this might seem like a problem in the industry. But what you don’t see on the surface is that the reduction in workforce is a sign that companies leaving behind inefficient old ways. It’s impossible to do everything manually, which opens the door for technology to resolve these issues and become more efficient.
- Consumers Are Dictating The Actions of Manufacturers
The speed at which manufacturing moves is driven by a group of consumers who want higher quality goods, combined with responsible manufacturing practices. And this is not just coming from consumers! Corporate leaders are backing up this sentiment as well. Recently, the Business Roundtable issued a statement that companies should not just advance the interest of shareholders but “must also invest in their employees, protect the environment, and deal fairly and ethically with their suppliers.” Combining speed and responsibility requires not just a different philosophy, but intelligent action. Manual processes and limited operating information are being replaced by data intelligence platforms to keep up with this increasing demand. Companies need to be able to take immediate action on their collected data, which was echoed by 76% of manufacturing professional respondents that Plutoshift recently surveyed.
- These Innovations In Manufacturing Aren’t New
This massive shift in company practices could lead some to believe that this technology is a new phenomenon, but the number of companies who are using it has just increased. This means that more business leaders are seeing the benefits of taking manual tasks (especially ones that require a lot of labor hours) and automating these responsibilities.
It isn’t a secret that manufacturing is evolving at a rapid pace. Increased access to data combined with the widespread use of AI is eliminating the barriers that once held companies back from using IoT within their businesses.
With these barriers no longer an issue, companies are fully embracing these innovations and taking advantage of technologies that are already available. This shift provides a decrease in overall costs and an increase in efficiency, providing benefits to customers and companies at the same time.