Technology changes quickly. So quickly that your one year old compute or iPhone is already out of date. It runs slower, everyone’s got the new one, and kids on the playground make fun of you. It’s a nightmare.
Business and industry know this pain all too well. Failing to invest in new technology isn’t just embarrassing, it can cripple your productivity. But, getting ahead of the game can make you more profitable than ever.
Manufacturing has seen its fair share of technological upgrades in the past couple of decades. Robots, automation technology, and a reduction in factory jobs have left a bad taste in many people’s mouths. As bad as it might seem, manufacturers have no choice but to move with the times. And if you’re doing that already, why not look forward a little?
While you’re chilling out over the holidays, why not do some research, and see what you can reasonably consider investing in for next year
Even in the next year, technologies that could alter the manufacturing market are being released and implemented. While you’re chilling out over the holidays, why not do some research, and see what you can reasonably consider investing in for next year, or even the year after that?
IoT (Internet of Things)
Investment in IoT isn’t new to the manufacturing industry at all. According to the IDC, “the manufacturing industry was good for a total IoT spend of $178 billion in 2016, which is more than twice as much as the second largest vertical market in IoT spend, transportation.”
The money walks, too. The manufacturing industry is also the market where most industrial IT projects are actually implemented.
For those unversed, what is the Internet of Things?
Above all, the IoT is a network. It connects a ton of things from cars to home appliances. Electronics, software, anything with access can connect to the network. The idea behind this is to automate data and information transfers between these devices and programs.
The idea behind this is to automate data and information transfers between these devices and programs.
No human-to-computer interaction, no human-to-human interaction. Just simple, automatic data transfer. For all you introverts out there, this is great news.
But, for the manufacturing industry, the ability to automatically track, log, and transfer data saves time, money, and the headaches of manually tracking all that information.
Depending on the size of your operation, it might not be such a big deal to do everything manually. But, as IoT becomes more accessible and widely used (as it already seems to be in manufacturing), companies using legacy technologies may find themselves strapped for business partners that need someone to move faster, and that has an eye for innovation.
Some interesting use cases to consider for companies of all shapes and sizes are facility management, monitoring production flow, and inventory management. Each of these could use a sprinkle or flood of automation, depending on your operation.
Investing in this groundbreaking technology now will give you an advantage in the coming years. Especially because many companies are already ahead of you.
This is one that you probably haven’t heard of, but have definitely seen.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching the Apple commercial of people superimposing animal faces onto their heads from their iPhones, or played Pokemon Go!, you know what augmented reality is.
Basically, it’s the act of imposing digitally-created images onto real-life objects from within a device like a cell phone, computer, camera, or tablet. So how does that help manufacturers?
With augmented reality training sessions, new employees can learn everything they need to know without stepping foot on the factory floor.
A major reason augmented reality is being considered by manufacturers is because even though robots do all their own work, they can’t fix themselves (yet, the end is nigh).
By using software in a tablet or phone, workers can run real time video footage through, and let the software find the problem (as long as it’s on the outside of the machinery).
Another way it helps is in training.
Manufacturing jobs are dangerous. If you don’t know what your doing, you can easily injure yourself and others. With augmented reality training sessions, new employees can learn everything they need to know without stepping foot on the factory floor. Just throw on a headset or look through a tablet, and you’ve entered your very own manufacturing simulator.
Some new and lesser known applications are in inventory management (the program shows workers exactly where parts and materials are in a warehouse), and even product development (creating something in augmented reality before it actually hits the line).
These are just a few of the benefits of AR technology in manufacturing. Get in on the action before someone else does.
Omni-Channel Sales, Customer Support
Let’s leave operations and processes for a minute.
Manufacturing also involves a lot of customer service and sales work. Business partners, vendors and suppliers don’t just fall out of the sky.
Omni-channel just means many channels. Instead of selling your products and providing customer support in one way, the idea is to find multiple different ways of completing the same task.
Omni-channel technologies allow vendors and business partners to find and buy their own parts and materials, without any involvement from you.
In terms of manufacturing, this has led to the implementation of self-services.
Instead of a ton of calls, emails, and time-consuming back and forth before you sell or buy something, omni-channel technologies allow vendors and business partners to find and buy their own parts and materials, without any involvement from you.
The process involves software that not only acts as an Alibaba-type online inventory, but also tracks stock, delivery times, cost, and all the while providing a self-driven and customer-centric experience.
Users can work at their own pace, and manufacturers don’t have to spend the time, employee resources, and overhead to have sales reps making and receiving cold calls all day.
There’s nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
Alright, back to operations. Blockchain technology has garnered a lot of recent hype along with the cryptocurrency boom. For an in depth explanation of the technology, check out our article here.
Long story short, blockchain technology distributes information among thousands of computers to reduce the threat of hacking one central point of entry. It’s like having your money in 10,000 banks instead of 1. It would take a lot longer for you to get robbed, if you did at all.
For manufacturers, blockchain technology would have its most direct impact in finance. The ability to securely, quickly, and cost-effectively send and receive payments from suppliers, vendors, or business partners from around the world is invaluable for any business. By working with a payments platform or provider leveraging blockchain already, manufacturers don’t have to worry about finding ways to implement the technology themselves.
But, there are other ways the manufacturing industry is taking on blockchain technology. Supply chain management is one of the more exciting and realistic applications that we may see even as early as 2019.
Fully secure product tracking, automated reporting of movements and transactions throughout the chain, and certification registration that’s automated and accurate without any human interaction. All of that from one distributed ledger system. So much time, so much money saved.
These are the kinds of innovations we can expect in manufacturing as early as 2019. If you aren’t on the cutting edge, you’d better make your way to it. This technology isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s improving and expanding all the time. Especially in an industry that relies on speed, accuracy, and security, business owners can’t afford to let someone else get there first.
Start moving, start investing, and start reaping the benefits of tomorrow’s technology today.