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PROPERTY & CASUALTY
OCT 04, 2018
The Changing Manufacturing Industry
Dramatic changes to technology, risk, and human capability have all shaped the current manufacturing landscape. Future generations of manufacturers could work with entirely different products and processes than those of their predecessors.
Let's take a look at some of the biggest changes in manufacturing over the last seven years.
Internet of Things (IoT)
This transformation of business processes was nonexistent only a few years ago. Its existence is primarily due to widely available internet access, smaller sensors, and cloud computing. IoT interconnects unique devices with an existing internet infrastructure. It allows manufacturers to achieve a variety of goals including cost reduction, increased efficiency, improved safety, meeting compliance requirements, and product innovation.
Previously, manufacturers would rely on manual checks of equipment to ensure that systems were functioning optimally. Now, with the use of IoT and big data insights, manufacturers can automate the data collection process. The ability to predict when maintenance should be performed reduces unplanned outages and can extend machinery life. Most importantly, monitoring tests can be conducted while equipment is in operation, which means there is no loss of production due to equipment shutdown.
Updated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems
Implementing a traditional ERP system was formerly frustrating and time consuming for small to medium sized manufacturers. Now, however, rapid implementation ERP systems can be up and running much faster and more affordably than traditional ERP systems. An ERP system is streamlines processes by automating business processes and provides real-time information. The end result allows manufacturers to proactively manage operations, prevent disruptions, avoid information roadblocks and help users make quicker decisions.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
Assistive technologies continue to forge powerful partnerships between man and machine. The ability of VR software to seamlessly interface with computer-aided designs allows product developers to rapidly make modifications and additions to products during the design stage, before they go into manufacturing processes. AR devices such as electronic glasses or googles, can be supplemented with computer generated-graphics that are placed in a worker’s field of vision. These graphics can provide real-time help or training.
Faster, less expensive production is just one of the benefits of 3D printing. The recent technology makes rapid prototyping, a highly cost-effective way to test and troubleshoot products, possible. It also gives manufacturers the ability to produce items on demand instead of having to warehouse them. Tooling is also being transformed by 3D printing. Historically, the production of molds, jigs, and fixtures took months. Now, tooling can be completed on-site in a matter of days.
As technology continues to evolve, the role of manufacturers will also experience further change. Regardless of how their knowledge and skillset is enhanced by these innovations, manufacturers will continue play a vital role in nearly every business sector.