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Six Ways to Impress Potential Clients in the Manufacturing World

Posted by IndustrySelect on Tuesday, July 16, 2019

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4 MIN. READ

If you’re doing business with manufacturers, it helps to be in-the-know about the emerging innovations, needs and challenges faced by business owners and manufacturing decision-makers.

Speaking the language of manufacturing and understanding some basic principles will go a long way when you have an executive on the phone or reading your email.

Having a working knowledge of certain concepts is also a powerful avenue to explore new markets and get a handle on demand for your products or services.

In this article, we will look at some of the top trends in manufacturing that you should be aware of.

The past year has been one of rapid acceleration in manufacturing.

From integrating new technologies to bringing jobs back to the United States, the future is looking bright for an industry that generated over $2 trillion in the first quarter of 2018 alone.

Cobots

We've all heard of robots, but what are cobots? Cobots, or co-robots, are semi-autonomous machines designed to work with humans. Less costly and complex than full-fledged robots, cobots are much safer to operate around as they are intended to anticipate human interaction.

First designed by two professors at Northwestern University and tested by General Motors, cobots can perform a variety of tasks that are too difficult for humans to do repetitively, or too demanding in accuracy tolerances.

For example, a cobot may be designed to help a person lift a heavy object into a very precise location for assembly purposes. This reduces the number of people required to complete the task and improves safety for the remaining workers.

In other examples, a cobot may be able to do rapid machining or reworking without having to remove a product from a given line, saving time and money.

While 99 percent of automation devices are standard robots, cobots are slated to see increasing use as their development continues.

‘Internet of Things'

Hardly an article on technology passes without the phrase "internet of things" (IoT) being mentioned. But what does it really mean and how does it affect manufacturers? Simply stated, it is the overall framework where individual machines and devices are connected to an existing internet infrastructure.

By doing so, efficiency, productivity and agility are all enhanced.Manufacturing_shopfloor_tech

A staggering $267 billion is slated to be invested into integrating IoT technologies by 2020. When real-time data is collected and analyzed, it gives manufacturers the opportunity to optimize production immediately.

Many companies are already taking advantage of this with roughly 30 percent of manufacturing equipment and processes including some form of smart data collection or embedded intelligence.

However, the benefits do not end at the assembly line.

IoT has the capability to extend the manufacturing process all the way to the consumer.

Connecting to inventory and logistics providers will enable automatic just-in-time replenishment without any interruption in the end customer's business.

On the machine side of things, IoT will enable predictive maintenance and repairs. Since smart equipment is already able to broadcast information about production capacity and status, it stands to reason that they can also alert operators when critical components need replacement.

When an hour of downtime on average costs $100,000 industry-wide, being able to affect a significant reduction in unplanned outages can save tremendous amounts of money.

Current predictions are for at least a 20 percent reduction in total maintenance costs by utilizing predictive software and monitoring.

Automation

A very broad category, automation includes some of the previously mentioned topics such as IoT and cobots.

On a macro scale, automation is the transition from human-controlled and human-performed tasks to human-initiated and machine-performed tasks.

Repetitive, dangerous and complex tasks were the first to be automated and have been for many years. Now technology is allowing for the automation of more subjective fields such as management, administration, and maintenance.

For the foreseeable future, there will always be a human in the command loop at some point although the number will continue to diminish.

While this will reduce costs substantially for manufacturers, it will also require new and specialized training to ensure uninterrupted operation of the automation processes.

Blockchain in Manufacturing

While the most popular use for blockchain is for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, it has many other uses as well.

Due to its trait of being infinitely distributable but not copied or falsified, it is perfect for secure and verifiable industrial communications.

If blockchain becomes adopted as an industry standard for product development, production and distribution, it can assign unique signatures for each part or material used.

In addition to quality control, blockchain will manage each part of the manufacturing process efficiently by seamlessly communicating requirements across multiple platforms worldwide in the blink of an eye.

Cloud-Based Manufacturing Apps

Want to build a part for a turbine engine but don't have the hardware to do it? With cloud-based manufacturing, the design can be sent from your workstation to a manufacturer that can produce and ship the part to you.

Infrastructure, hardware, platforms and software are all offered as a service through this methodology, allowing anyone worldwide to utilize American manufacturing for their products.

This development also increases productivity for companies that normally would have downtime between contracts.

Cybersecurity in Manufacturing

The year 2018 saw wide-reaching cyberattacks on stores, financial institutions, media and governments. One would be forgiven for being suspect of integrating digital technologies into manufacturing.

However, there are many key differences in how a manufacturing plant and a newspaper or bank operates.

Manufacturers usually have limited outside access points for their systems, whereas many other industries rely on web traffic and unique visitors. Compare the number of users an online store handles on an average day with the number of users accessing a manufacturing portal and the difference is very stark.

Traffic issues aside, hackers will still attempt to find a way to compromise any promising system.

To cope with this, software designers are looking to integrate machine learning and AI as much as possible to predict, identify and deflect attacks.

It will be an ongoing game of countermeasures but one that should be a game that ends up in industry's favor.

Learn More

Are you finding the manufacturers you're looking for? If not, start your own trend by using IndustrySelect and always be working with the most current, relevant data. 

An IndustrySelect database subscription can put you on a first-name basis with 400,000 U.S. manufacturers. Subscribers can select up to 30 data points on any manufacturing company in the U.S.  to help identify or pre-qualify leads. Company profiles also include the contact information for hard-to-find executive decision-makers. Click here to learn more about IndustrySelet. 

 

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