4 Technologies That Will Shape the Future of Manufacturing

2019-11-07

The manufacturing industry has undergone a massive shift in focus in recent years. When asked where they see themselves by 2025, supply chain businesses reported everything from 3D printing to drones to self-driving vehicles. While these topics aren’t new for many industries, they represent a shift in how the manufacturing sector plans to operate going forward. This signals a true change to developing smart manufacturing practices.

In a survey encompassing 1000+ executives in manufacturing, the statistics provided valuable insight into how smart manufacturing will take shape going forward. The following are the technologies manufacturing executives indicated would play a significant role in developing their businesses:

  1. Working and storing data in the cloud. With 57% of respondents already utilizing this technology, a whopping 91% plan to do so as part of their five-year plan. Outsourcing servers to house data is more economical in the long run and manufacturers intend to make the change after overcoming information migration and cybersecurity challenges.
  2. Network and inventory optimization. Company networks house a plethora of data that can improve inventory in a number of ways including better tracking, ordering, and even improving how companies store their inventory. For example, drones can receive and send data regarding stock in real-time to networks equipped with artificial intelligence (AI). These smart machines can then give insights to executives to streamline processes and reduce unnecessary expenses. As it stands, 44% of manufacturers have taken steps in this direction with 90% planning to do so in the near future.
  3. Sensors for better quality assurance. Using sensors such as RFID tags streamlines quality assurance as companies no longer have to perform these steps by hand. Retailers embraced this technology already, and those that equipped their products with RFID tags saw a 30% decrease in display shortages. For manufacturers, the technology would mean they have eyes on their products throughout every step of the supply chain without having to send someone to perform a manual check. The biggest challenge regarding this change is having an infrastructure that can support that level of memory storage as well as processing speeds. Even so, 45% of manufacturers report using sensors while 86% indicated their interest in utilizing this technology going forward.
  4. Predictive analytics. AI is able to take data and make inferences at a much faster rate than humans can. While executives may be able to spot where a problem occurred after the fact, AI can take all the available data to make predictions to prevent the issue from ever occurring. By providing these insights, executives can make changes to thwart problems and plan with greater accuracy for the future. For example, executives could input a query on what to expect if a shipment arrives late due to unexpected extreme weather. The AI would be able to show how the delay would affect every stage of the supply chain as well as customers. The greatest challenge for implementing this technology is how to get it to the next level. While it’s great to know that an issue is likely to occur, it would be better if the technology could also provide insight into the next steps so that executives aren’t making decisions blind. This likely explains why only 20% of manufacturers already adopted the technology while 82% plan to do so within the next few years.

MMA Florida knows the challenges involved with making major technological changes and upgrades to the supply chain process. If your Florida-based manufacturing business is struggling to balance technology implementation against financial risk, we can help. Contact us to learn how we can support your business’ technology efforts by managing your risks.

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