Technology has revolutionized our lives and work, and the manufacturing industry is no exception. From the development of new materials and techniques to the use of automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence, technology is transforming the way products are made and the processes used to make them. As a technology journalist in the manufacturing industry, I aim to explore these advancements and help readers understand their impact on the industry and society.
One of the most significant developments in manufacturing technology in recent years has been the rise of automation and robotics. As Lisa Mitchell, President of Progressive Computer Systems, explains, “Automation and robotics are transforming the manufacturing industry, enabling companies to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve quality.”
This trend is evident in the increasing use of robots in manufacturing processes. According to a report by the International Federation of Robotics, the number of industrial robots worldwide is expected to reach 2.6 million by 2019, up from 1.8 million in 2016. This growth is driven by advancements in robotics technology, including the development of collaborative robots, or “cobots,” which can work alongside human operators to perform tasks requiring precision and speed.
However, using automation and robotics in manufacturing is not without its challenges. As Justin Sampsel, Director of Sales and Marketing at ExcalTech, a provider of IT services near Chicago, explains, “The increasing use of automation and robotics is leading to concerns about job displacement and the impact on the workforce.”
While machines are replacing some jobs, others are being created. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, automation is expected to displace 75 million jobs by 2022 but also create 133 million new jobs. These new jobs will require different skills and qualifications, which means that companies and workers will need to adapt to keep pace with these changes.
Another significant trend in manufacturing technology is artificial intelligence and machine learning. As Jorge Rojas, President of Tektonic Managed IT Services in Toronto, notes, “Artificial intelligence is enabling companies to automate tasks, reduce costs, and improve quality.”
One area where artificial intelligence is having a significant impact is predictive maintenance. By analyzing data from sensors and other sources, artificial intelligence algorithms can predict when equipment will likely fail, enabling companies to schedule maintenance and repairs before a breakdown occurs. This not only reduces downtime but also improves the lifespan of equipment and reduces maintenance costs.
Artificial intelligence is also used to optimize production processes, such as scheduling and inventory management. By analyzing production rates, inventory levels, and customer demand, algorithms can make recommendations on when and how much to produce, enabling companies to maximize efficiency and minimize waste.
While the benefits of technology in manufacturing are clear, there are also risks to consider. One of the most significant of these is the risk of cybersecurity breaches. As manufacturing processes become more connected and digitized, they also become more vulnerable to cyber attacks. This concerns both companies and consumers, as breaches can lead to the theft of sensitive data or the disruption of critical infrastructure.
Companies are investing in cybersecurity measures, such as firewalls, encryption, and intrusion detection systems, to address this risk. They also adopt best practices, such as regular backups, employee training, and incident response plans.
As technology continues to transform the manufacturing industry, it is clear that companies and workers must adapt to stay competitive. This means embracing new technologies, developing new skills and qualifications, and adopting best practices to manage risks. Lisa Mitchell notes, “The pace of technological change is accelerating, and companies that don’t keep up will be left behind.”
In conclusion, the manufacturing industry is undergoing a significant transformation due to technological advancements, such as automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence.