Manufacturing is already undergoing significant changes, and a report published by the World Economic Forum earlier this week has set out the four key drivers that it believes will accelerate this industrial transformation.
The four technological advances noted by the report are:
- High-speed mobile internet
- Artificial intelligence
- Big data analytics
- Cloud technology
These are set to dominate the next four-year period for businesses.
The report also claims that by 2022, robots will have created over 130 million jobs, this almost double the amount they are projected to take (75 million).
These are not the only drivers of change for manufacturing, but they will, and are of course disrupting and transforming the industry irrevocably. What are some of the benefits of these advanced technologies?
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High-speed mobile data
A major connectivity leap forward in the form of 5G is on its way. This means connectivity like never before, with potential speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second, this more than 1000 times faster than 4G.
5G will offer the always-on connectivity that manufacturers now demand, as it is tipped to become the industry standard for connectivity in the future.
This could enable industrial automation systems to operate at unseen speeds, and increase the rate that real-time data analysis can be done, meaning quicker reactions to any potential issues.
Artificial intelligence and robotics is changing the workforce structure in industry for the better.
It is being introduced to automate more repetitive tasks on a 24-hour basis, like transferring components from one area to another (pick and place robots). This can be achieved by machines using AI to orientate itself and locate objects, enabling the workforce to upskill and less human error to occur.
Manufacturing performance is being improved via big data. Production processes are being stream-lined and customer relationships are strengthened.
Big data allows more precision in operations, historic versions of processes and even predictive maintenance.
If manufacturers are able to effectively integrate big data tools, they can utilise their machines, production and supply chain data and significantly raise their productivity and efficiency.
Connecting operations across businesses can allow better communication and more transparency. This enables faster problem-solving and the ability to pin point where specific production processes are taking place.
Cloud technology also offers an enhanced network on a standardised platform, easy and secure transfers of information and an accessibility to data across a company.
Using these technologies in tandem can allow manufacturers to be propelled. However, they naturally come with their challenges such as security issues and skills shortages.
These issues though, pale in comparison to what technologies can offer to manufacturers in their productivity, workforce, transparency across operations and connectivity.