Although the world is anticipating the start of a new decade in several months, there’s still time to consider the biggest manufacturing changes of this year and those still yet to come. Each of these advances promises to add convenience, reduce production time, and reduce expenses. While not every new product or concept will live up to those ideals, the prevailing belief is that advances in manufacturing will continue at an unprecedented rate.
Manufacturing experts have coined the term Industry 4.0 to describe the exchange of data as well as automation that has taken hold in this industry. Companies that use a combination of the following practices are operating under the system of Industry 4.0:
- Additive manufacturing
- Augmented reality
- Collaboration between humans and robots
- Immersive training
- Production simulation
- Product steering and decentralization to make manufacturing scalability possible
- Use of smart robots
- Value chain integration
The trend of using a variety of Industry 4.0 tactics has grown significantly over the past several years and is expected to become even more widespread in the 2020s.
Explosive Growth in the Manufacturing Workforce
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a whopping 37 percent increase in manufacturing jobs for the calendar year 2018. Since the industry has been unable to fill all these positions due to the tight labor market, it has had to consider solutions such as increasing wages and the availability of overtime to attract new workers. However, they will need to come up with more creative solutions if they hope to avoid having to turn down new business, scrap plans for expansion, and other problems common to manufacturers with an employee shortage.
Increased Use of XaaS
The growing usage of both the cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT) has caused many businesses to switch focus from offering mostly products to offering mostly services. The benefits to end users include improved flexibility, a better overall experience, and improved product functioning. In the past, people primarily considered XaaS as a type of cloud computing. Today, people commonly accept it as a product for a service business. The specific models used with XaaS include:
The current prediction by The Manufacturer website is that 20 percent of manufacturers will use processes like machine learning and IoT to automate large processes within the next two years.
The Demand for 3D Printing Will Continue to Increase
Three-dimensional (3D) printing has been widely used in manufacturing facilities for several years now. In 2019 and beyond, the process will become even faster, stronger, cheaper, and better than it is today. Common household items such as outlet covers, desk organizers, wall mounts, and measuring cups are just some examples of items that can be printed in three dimensions and used immediately.
Keep Looking Towards the Future
A constantly evolving industry is a sign of healthy growth. Anyone interested in manufacturing trends should follow the industry carefully to know what’s next and to recommend suggestions for improvement.