5 Manufacturing Trends to Watch in 2019
Editor’s Note: As readers return from World of Asphalt and AGG1 2018, we have this snapshot from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) predicting how technology will influence the OEMs you saw there as 2019 progresses.
1. Intelligent Manufacturing
The concept of intelligent manufacturing is always changing. But in the simplest sense, it can be defined as a large-scale integration of cutting-edge artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing technology and processes. Ultimately, intelligent manufacturing serves to help companies optimize organizational systems, improve product quality, increase the efficient allocation of resources and positively impact customer service.
Advancements in digital technology drive the rise of intelligent manufacturing. It’s now possible for integrated systems to enable communication and collaboration between equipment and people, allowing for the creation of customized products to be accomplished with the efficiency of mass production. In doing so, manufacturers can increase customer engagement and positively impact relationships with equipment end users.
In fostering the development of a connected ecosystem of people and equipment communicating in real time, manufacturers are poised to better meet the needs of the industries they serve while simultaneously reducing cost and inefficiencies.
2. Data Utilization
Being able to simply manage the mounds of data generated by manufacturing processes is not enough anymore. Companies need to go beyond efficiently storing information and consider how best to go about using it to gain insights into their businesses and make actionable and informed decisions about their future.
In the most traditional sense, data management consists of harvesting company data, constructing an ecosystem to support it, and then acquiring business intelligence hardware to aid in organizational assessment and analysis. The problem is there’s often too much data to manage, so companies fail to consistently make observations or find useful takeaways from the information. In short, they’re not utilizing the data, and they’re not really even managing it, either.
Organizational data can be overwhelming to manage. But leading companies today are establishing processes and investing in tools to help increase both profits and productivity. And, as technology continue to develop and evolve, opportunities related to data utilization will become more and more prevalent with time.
3. The Internet of Things (IoT)
The marriage of networked sensors and intelligent devices with connected equipment on the manufacturing plant floor has been one of the most impactful and transformative trends the industry has seen in quite some time. The ever-developing IoT has not only turned traditional supply chains into interconnected and dynamic systems, it has:
• Fundamentally change the way in which products are made
• Increased organizational efficiency
• Improved organizational safety
• Reduced organizational costs and complexity
Look to enterprise business models for big change. More specifically, the IoT could lead to more high-value equipment being leased, as opposed to being sold outright. The machinery of the future could be outfitted with built-in sensors and marketed as both a product and service. As a result, equipment owners would then be able to monitor it remotely and provide maintenance, repairs and necessary upgrades automatically. This would allow end users to focus on the work at hand instead of worrying about the condition of the equipment, leading to increased productivity.
4. Workforce Training
There’s no overstating the seriousness of the manufacturing industry’s skilled worker shortage in 2019. Manufacturing employs roughly 9 percent of the U.S. workforce, yet it is increasingly unable to fill necessary positions with qualified people. As it stands, there are three times as many open skilled labor positions than are being filled. The skills gap is a significant problem right now.
By investing in training and education, key stakeholders inside and outside the manufacturing industry can begin to connect with the workforce of tomorrow, inspire them to strongly consider a career as skilled workers and develop them into qualified employees.
5. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is everywhere, so it comes as no surprise that it’s beginning to be incorporated more and more info manufacturing. In the near future, manufacturing facilities will evolve into connected networks of people and machines with supply chain assets, design teams, production and quality control, all integrated into a highly intelligent engine that monitors everything and provides actionable data and insights.
Artificial intelligence can come in many forms, and the industry can expect it to make its presence more and more known in manufacturing facilities as:
• Virtual reality
• IoT infrastructure
While there are concerns about artificial intelligence eventually replacing human workers in a variety of industries, what seems clear is the technology will drive increased efficiency and productivity. By incorporating the technology to help manage operational assets, companies are free to focus their time, effort and resources on product innovation and other key strategic priorities.
For more information, visit www.aem.org/think