Technology in manufacturing continues unabated in its evolution, something perhaps sounding daunting, though also helping many of your workers. With the prevailing thought that computers and robots are going to replace manufacturing jobs, much of this is proving false. As TIME Magazine details, digital technologies ultimately help complement workers in the manufacturing sector.
The impact of technology on manufacturing in general is going to become huge. Take a look at what lies ahead and into the coming decade. To achieve a sense of perfection in manufacturing, it's going to require a lot of integrating.
What is the Immediate Impact of Computerization in Manufacturing?
This year alone, you're starting to see a preview of what lies ahead in manufacturing through digital technology and robotics. Industry 4.0 is on a fast-forward path, a term that comes from a German government project pushing the groundwork for computerization in manufacturing.
In other words, the fourth manufacturing revolution is going to best what came in the last three revolutions. These were mechanical production, mass production, and electronics/IT systems, respectively.
Through Industry 4.0, we're looking at more interconnected devices in manufacturing facilities for decentralization in making business decisions.
By using these connected devices, manufacturing can churn out more data for transparency into how your manufacturing facility operates.
It's just the beginning, though, in what lies ahead, including through the rest of this year.
Evolving Printed Circuit Board Production
One of the most important parts of manufacturing is in printed circuit board production, particularly in the manual task of soldering. You're starting to see technology disrupt printed circuit board production as well this year, with full intention to take things further by the next decade.
You'll find everything from the Industrial Internet of Things (the new IoT) to cyber security being strong computerized technologies bringing new ways to enhance production machinery.
Since printed circuit board production requires the utmost in quality and detailed perfection, these technologies are going to provide a new way to remove the burden of humans doing these jobs for long hours every day. On a health level, this is better for manufacturing employees who may find this production too tedious and physically harmful.
Looking more carefully at the above technologies helps determine how it's going to affect your business model or brand.
How Will IIoT Change Your Business Model?
The Industrial Internet of Things is the true future of all manufacturing, and it can easily change everything about how you've operated. One of the strongest areas for IIoT is in how it's bringing predictive maintenance to manufacturing machinery.
Data is a strong part of what's making manufacturing computerization so essential. Having connected devices sharing data with one another makes it easier for your manufacturing facility to see what's really occurring internally.
Knowing what machinery needs fixing before something breaks down is already going to save you in downtime and maintenance costs. Through optimized or automated adjustments, many of these problems become eliminated long in advance. In keeping a manufacturing consistency going, you'll stand out from competitors who still haven't upgraded to IIoT.
Expediting response time in general to inventory management is going to become a game-changer for manufacturers who rely on getting things done as quickly as possible.
The Rise of Collaborative Robots
Within the digital computerization of manufacturing is the rush to acquire robotics, something already plentiful in many industrial sectors.
One of the big things you'll see this year potentially altering your business model is collaborative robots. These are smaller robots working alongside human workers rather than the massive industrial robots requiring a more significant investment.
Known as "Cobots", these are meant to create a better manufacturing result than if either one did the task alone. As proof that humans and technology can work together to take manufacturing to levels never seen, it's a highlight of what could impact your manufacturing brand.
Dispensing manufacturing could easily benefit from cobots, depending on what tasks could benefit from a robot and a human. For instance, the robot could help in long and laborious soldering jobs, leaving your human workers to take other job roles you've created to keep things operating efficiently.
When adding vision systems and force sensing, Cobots are going make quality assurance in your manufacturing facility a less stressful role.
Using Blockchain for Security and Transparency
While IoT and collaborative robots are changing manufacturing at profound levels, so is the advent of blockchain technology. You've undoubtedly heard about this in the world of bitcoin and many other industries. In manufacturing, it's going to make an equally big impact.
This is going to revolutionize the way you store, record, and distribute information from one place to another. When you own a series of manufacturing facilities, distributing information back and forth is going to become critical to keeping your production lines operating at optimal level.
What makes blockchain so special is not only transparency in proving certain data transactions, but also guaranteed security through your network. Some of your manufacturing data needs to stay private, and blockchain is already helping in this realm.
As ZDNet points out, blockchain will give manufacturers more transparency and control to help move ahead of competitors. There isn't any better way to change your business model or improve your brand than using blockchain for openness and security.
The Increase in More Cyber Security
Even if you don't invest in the technologies you see above, your manufacturing facility should focus more on cyber security. As a vital part of the computerization of manufacturing, you're going to see more manufacturing facilities invest in technologies to combat hacking and other cyber threats.
Using IIoT alone is already a major risk because it still has many holes in its interconnected network, despite many great security technologies being available. Manufacturing technology analysts note that many hackers are after intellectual property now, making manufacturing facilities more vulnerable than they ever thought.
Investing in proper encryption technology should become a major part of your cyber security spend. AI and machine learning technologies are also sophisticated enough now to help ward off future cyber threats.
Visit us at Metcal to learn about our own technology that helps with soldering quality.