Manufacturing is a phenomenally broad and complex industry which is directly related to the profit margins of almost all businesses. For that reason, new technologies and innovations are constantly being developed, and we’re always hearing about the next big thing that’s just on the verge of taking over the market. Whether these predictions will come true is always hard to say, but at the moment the groundwork has been completed for any one of the following five trends to finally come to the forefront in the next 12 months.
Waiting for trends to emerge and adjusting strategies accordingly is rarely a cost-effective exercise, but businesses are often forced to use these trial-and-error methods to figure out what direction to steer themselves in next. Increasingly, however, the value of extremely detailed analytical software and consultancy is becoming clear, and perhaps offers an alternative to this reactive approach. So much data is now available about customers, logistics, production processes and so on that it’s becoming easier than ever to predict future trends and respond faster. As this continues to take off, we expect to see more businesses benefiting.
2) Metal 3D printing
Although this is not a new trend, 3D printing has taken some time (decades, in fact) to develop to a point that it’s proving valuable to mass manufacturers. Printing with metal rather than plastic is an even more advanced branch of the technique, and one that is starting to quite literally take off. Aerospace giants such as Airbus have started to embrace the technology and we expect to see more of it throughout the engineering sector.
3) Advanced robotics
Automated machines are another tried and tested component of almost all manufacturing already. Avoiding the need for human supervision has led to the immense scale of production across industries that we’re used to today. However, in recent years the level of complexity involved with the most up-to-date manufacturing robots is simply astonishing, and we’re finally at the point where a great deal more trust could be placed in automated hands. This is especially true in developing economics like China, where massive investment is being pumped into robotic work forces in order to speed up industrial growth.
4) Electronic security
It’s time for cyber security to reach the next level in order to keep up with constant threats from infinite external forces. In the past 12 months, most of us will have lost count of the number of major brands that have been hit by hacking scandals, risking the security and privacy of millions of customers. From a manufacturing perspective, an increased reliance on software-controlled processes should be a huge red flag for those in charge of electronic security, and we can expect businesses to take this much more seriously as time goes on.
5) Augmented reality
A classic science fiction staple, augmented reality is finally emerging as a viable manufacturing tool. Employees could, in the near future, we wearing sophisticated headsets that scan their environments and provide instant information about machinery, current inventories and much more. This has the potential to dramatically revolutionise the industry by taking accuracy and efficiency to the next level within factories and warehouses.