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5 Technology Trends That Will Change the Face of Manufacturing

May 20, 2016
Posted by Natalie Shepherd

iStock_000061013414_MediumOver the last 15 years, the sophistication of manufacturing techniques has developed exponentially. Not since the industrial revolution have we seen such a rapid advancement in manufacturing technology over such a short space of time. The driving forces behind this development have been the advancements in technology and software that have allowed industries to automate tasks and reduce the need for human intervention.

The advent of advanced manufacturing technologies like 3D printing, nanotechnology, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have caused the face of the manufacturing supply chain to change. Besides being more cost-effective, these technological developments provide the manufacturing supply chain with benefits such as increased speed, precision, efficiency, and flexibility.

Today, there are a variety of trends that are driving the change and growth in manufacturing technology – so let’s take a look at a few of them…

1. Connectivity

The creation and use of smart, connected devices is one trend that is growing and changing manufacturing. The ability for one machine or device to talk to another can make manufacturing more precise and efficient. There is also a growing popularity for the manufacture of innovative products and services like self-driving cars, remote vehicle viewing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), as well as more automated systems and secure systems. These types of products stem from the idea of connectivity that is generally associated with the IoT, or Industry 4.0.

2. 3D Printing

The increased use of 3D printing is another trend that has a range of applications relevant to the manufacturing supply chain. As an example, it can help in the sample management process as it is often quicker and less costly to produce a sample. Speed and efficiency are two key advantages of 3D printing which are crucial in the race to bring products to market if a new fad arises. 3D printing is also being used to advance custom product ordering as it makes it easier to create customer-driven, tailored products to more closely fit the requirements of the end user.

3. Cloud Technology

Cloud computing is something many businesses already use. It can involve using a network of internet-connected services to store, manage, and share data. Manufacturing companies have been a bit slower to take advantage of its many benefits, owing to concerns over security and connectivity issues. But cloud computing has become more secure and reliable overtime, so more and more manufacturers are beginning to implement cloud-based solutions. This is enabling improved collaboration as manufacturers and suppliers are able to work to a single set of information and communicate in real-time, over a wider geographical area. This helps cut costs and increase quality and production speed.

4. Supply Chain Collaboration

With the increase and expansion of more intricate supply chain networks, the growth of global markets and the use of global facilities to support those markets, all partners involved in a supply chain need access to the same information to run an effective manufacturing and supply chain process. This is being made easier through the implementation of more modern supply chain management systems that provide user based access to different stakeholders such as suppliers, manufacturers and logistics providers. This way information can be shared all the way along the supply chain from a product concept through to manufacture and production, quality control and delivery. If any issues arise along the way they are more easily managed if everyone works to the same plans.

5. Industry 4.0

Adapting Industry 4.0 capabilities into manufacturing will allow manufacturers and their machines to share information with the wider supply chain. This lets the manufacturing processes reconfigure itself more efficiently based on more accurate data flows. The manufacturing supply chain also needs to be more customer-focused and since consumers do a lot of shopping online and leave reviews based on the product and service received, manufacturers are starting to tap into different channels such as social media to learn what customers are saying about the products they make. The idea of Next Shoring is also causing a change, creating a shift from outsourcing work to producing products closer to where they are sold in order to increase the speed of getting them to market and reducing stock holding and transportation costs.

We have highlighted few of the latest trends in manufacturing technology. If you would like to learn more about these changes and the sorts of new technology solutions available to ease the wheels of the manufacturing supply chain, then visit Adjuno.

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Natalie Shepherd – Marketing and Communications Manager, Adjuno
Natalie is a hands-on marketing professional with a sound understanding of web-based supply chain management solutions and operations planning for the retail, manufacturing and insurance sectors. She has 15 years’ experience working closely with executive management across multiple departments in both a global manufacturing company and as part the ACS Logistics Group where she manages all aspects of B2B marketing and communications for its software subsidiary, Adjuno.