Friday, July 15, 2016

5 Technological Trends Sweeping Across the Manufacturing Landscape


5 Technological Trends Sweeping Across the Manufacturing Landscape
For the past 20 years, technological changes have had a major impact on both our economy and society. From the internet spike of the 1990’s to the development of Smartphones and Wi-Fi in the 2000’s, technology is constantly evolving… and at lightning speed.
Impact on Manufacturing
Manufacturers can get ahead of the game and better address demand by adopting the latest and advanced technologies. By incorporating new technology into their facilities, manufacturers are able to improve and enhance operational activities, processes and the overall quality of their products, while saving time and cutting down on costs.
Technology has driven the manufacturing sector to a whole new level of optimal functionality where innovation and opportunities are pursued constantly. A few of the top technologies that are trending across the manufacturing landscape include:

Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing

Additive Manufacturing is commonly known as the formal term for 3-D printing. Generally, its technologies build three-dimensional objects by adding layer after layer of material.  These materials include but are not limited to plastic, metal, and even concrete.
The machine works hand in hand with 3-D modeling software, commonly referred to as CAD (Computer Aided Design). Once a sketch of an object is created, the software generates data which is read by the 3-D printer and starts laying down layers of liquid, powder, or sheet material to create the 3-D object. This technology results in better time and waste management of resources, as well as enhanced productivity within the workplace.

Advanced Materials

Advanced materials are changing the world of manufacturing. Projected to fuel multi-billion dollar industries in the future, these materials consist of unique composites of plastic, glass fibers, carbon fibers, ceramics, metals and nanomaterials which are commonly paired together to simultaneously generate products that are stronger, lighter, and faster. These industrial technologies enable commercialization and provide a superior method of producing new products more effectively and efficiently.

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing is defined as the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer. Manufacturers are increasing their use of this technology in order to increase accuracy, cultivate process speed as a competitive advantage, and internally maximize intelligence to make better business decisions and optimize supplier, distributor and service interaction.

Internet of Things (IoT)

Referring back to the Smartphone development back in the early 2000’s, IoT is an anticipated development of the Internet where everyday objects interact, send and receive data through communal network connectivity ― giving the manufacturing sector “Smart Manufacturing”!

IoT is enhancing business models, scaling output, and automating processes across numerous industries. This technology allows manufacturers to reduce downtime, improve quality, and minimize costs and wastes.

Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is defined as the branch of technology that deals with dimensions and tolerances of fewer than 100 nanometers, particularly the manipulation of individual atoms and molecules.

Primarily used in aerospace and biomedical areas, nanotechnology is now being utilized by manufacturers to produce lighter and stronger materials for an assortment of products, including automobiles, sporting equipment and even eyeglasses.  Nanotechnology is especially useful in the healthcare industry, as it saves energy, minimizes wastes, and enhances medical applications.

A Word to the Wise
The aforementioned technologies are increasing in popularity and are progressively becoming more and more affordable for small to medium sized manufacturers. Nonetheless, all sized manufacturers must take a proactive approach in adopting these new technologies, as it is vital to sustain competitiveness.
The evolution of technology isn’t slowing down any time soon, which is why all manufacturers must take advantage of the manifold opportunities these new technologies are throwing their way!
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About the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center

Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org.

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