Today, manufacturers are facing one major challenge – finding skilled labor. Cost estimation is another concern, but solutions are starting to emerge from providers such as Galorath. Many have tried increasing salaries, adding more benefits, and building new facilities to attract workers away from other industries that pay more. While some of these tactics have helped marginally, it’s clear that new solutions are needed.
Luckily for manufacturers, technology is on their side. Here are seven manufacturing tech trends that can help.
Modern Manufacturing Technologies
According to a study by McKinsey, 47 percent of total global work hours could be automated with today’s technology. For example, Manugistics Group Incorporated has developed BlocklyProp, an open-source library that can create AI robotic applications.
As AI continues to grow in popularity across the globe, it will become integral to the manufacturing industry. With a better understanding of workers’ needs and how to solve them, machine learning will become the future of the world economy.
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Automation and Robotics
A recent study by researchers at North Carolina State University found that human-robot teams can be more efficient than either human-only or robot-only teams when performing specific tasks such as transporting products between two machines.
This means that robots and automation are quickly becoming a popular option to replace human employees in manufacturing.
The majority of manufacturers today recognize the potential impact these advances in bots and automation can have on their business; three-quarters of them plan to invest more in such technologies this year than they did in 2016, according to a recent survey.
With the labor shortage increasing, they also expected these technologies to increase productivity and efficiency significantly.
Manufacturers are experimenting with this technology by using bucket conveyors instead of humans for material transport between machines on their production line.
A bucket conveyor can carry up to 220 pounds per bucket over long distances with minimal wear and tear on the bucket. With this ability, bucket conveyors can increase the mobility of materials within a facility, which can be critical for addressing labor needs around their production line at different times throughout the day.
Nanotechnology is a rapidly growing field that could have manufacturing benefits across many industries. The technology’s ability to manufacture components at an atomic or molecular scale has already been widely incorporated into several sectors, from consumer goods and food products to healthcare and chemical production.
However, its potential for the manufacturing industry is even more significant. Currently, nanotechnology can enhance all of a company’s operations, from manufacturing and quality control to sales and customer service. Nanotechnology, through the help of spectrometers and beer’s law can also measure the concentration of substances and monitor oxidation during the manufacturing process.
With manufacturing, nanotechnology can help improve product quality by ensuring that products are defect-free and more efficient at converting feedstocks into end products. These improvements will allow manufacturers to remain competitive in a global economy where demand for affordable products grows.
The Internet of Things, or IoT.
It’s the wave of the future that could revolutionize how we do everything from ordering food to turning on our lights. And it is already changing the way manufacturers do business.
IoT connects physical devices embedded in everyday objects like cars, appliances, and home electronics. These devices can collect data through sensors that manufacturers can use to understand when something needs maintenance or when inventory levels are low.
While many people view IoT to automate the home, manufacturers have been quick to realize its potential. This year’s top technology trends from the World Economic Forum include the internet of things as number one.
The possibilities are just about endless when it comes to what IoT can do for manufacturers.
Since 2012, 3D printing has advanced at a rapid rate. In 2014, there were more than 12,000 3D printers in operation worldwide. By 2020, that number is expected to rise to more than 400,000.
The demand for 3D printing is rising and will continue to do so as the technology becomes more accessible and affordable.
The rapid growth of 3D printing technology has primarily been paired with the manufacturing industry because of its ability to make highly accurate prototypes for testing and bring products directly from a CAD file into real life.
Researchers have found that more than half of manufacturers worldwide are already using or considering using 3D printers within their organization.
In addition, 3D printing is allowing manufacturers to create highly customized products that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive. This technology has the potential to benefit manufacturing companies in terms of efficiency and provide solutions for labor shortages in the future.
Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual reality (VR)
These two areas are gaining traction across many industries, and manufacturers are already leaning into these emerging technologies to match the industry’s current labor shortages, especially for forklift drivers and team assemblers.
Managers in the manufacturing industry need to understand how AR and VR will fit into the current workforce situation within the next five years.
Augmented reality is an interface technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the natural world, thereby providing users with additional information to enhance their experience.
Employee training is one area where augmented reality can be used extensively. Manufacturers are using AR to educate new hires to ensure they understand the layout of the building, task requirements, and required safety protocols.
AR applications also help experienced employees by providing them with instant location information about their products. This eliminates wasted time searching for products, parts, or tools, which leads to increased efficiency, improved labor productivity, and higher job satisfaction.
AR also provides real-time support and guidance, even when employees are working alone on the manufacturing floor.
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Cloud computing is a viable option for manufacturers to counteract the global labor shortage and move their businesses into the digital age. Manufacturers’ need for different labor is constantly increasing.
Many manufacturers are considering moving their businesses into the digital age to compete in today’s technology-driven market.
This means using technology to operate more efficiently and bringing on a new skilled labor force. One factor that manufacturers will have to address is the global labor shortage. Labor is getting more expensive, with low-wage countries becoming less attractive for manufacturing.
Manufacturers who refuse to invest in advanced technology will be forced to compete using outdated equipment and processes. Many manufacturing companies are already feeling the effects of the labor shortage.
The Manufacturing Institute predicts that 2 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled in the next decade because of the lack of skilled workers available.
While there is no way to convince young people today to flock to careers in factory work, manufacturers can take matters into their own hands by investing in new technology to put forward a more beautiful view of factory life.