Like any other industry, manufacturing is experiencing massive shifts towards maximizing the compelling technologies that are shaping different sectors. These huge changes are happening at a pace and magnitude that will affect structural transformation, employment viability, growth, and other economic factors.
That’s why it’s essential to look into these changes and understand what the landscape holds for manufacturing in the future.
Industry 4.0 is the term given to a new phase in the Industrial Revolution. It involves technologies like artificial intelligence, automation, digitization, interconnectivity, machine learning, and real-time data management.
According to Forbes, it’s the computerization of Industry 3.0. It’s made possible through the Internet of Things and the Internet of Systems. Machines are communicating with each other and making decisions along the assembly line without human interaction. The result is a much-streamlined, efficient, and less wasteful production process.
That is generally a shift in a better direction. In terms of productivity, manufacturing industries are divided between those that can adapt to this future and those that do not.
According to Brookings, companies in Europe, East Asia, and the US are leading the charge into investing in Industry 4.0 technologies. They are the more digitally ready players in the field.
On the other hand, manufacturing in low-skill and low-labor cost areas like in many developing nations don’t necessarily have the capital or the infrastructure to support this shift. Eventually, this will mean a reduction of the need to outsource production to offshore companies.
Robotics and Automation:
According to Industry Week, manufacturers’ investment into robotics has reached $1.3 billion just in the third quarter of 2019. That is an indication of how much confidence manufacturers have in this promising technology.
Contrary to popular belief, the extensive use of robots and automation doesn’t necessarily mean a loss of jobs for many in the industry. In fact, according to the Brookings article mentioned above, there will be a sharp transition into higher-skilled positions. That means the workforce of the future will likely be exposed to more opportunities.
There’s also the rise of collaborative robots or cobots. What do collaborative robots mean? These are robots that are designed to work hand-in-hand with humans. They differ from the traditional robots that one can imagine working in assembly lines in that these cobots are safer around humans. They are also designed to take over the repetitive tasks while humans still do the decision-making and the problem-solving parts of the work.
That ensures a collaborative environment between people and machines and a more inclusive future for manufacturing.
Digitization and Artificial Intelligence:
It would be a waste to leave the mountains of available data in manufacture unused. Because of the migration to digital channels, there has been an explosion of usable information in the industry.
According to CIO, manufacturing is at the forefront of leveraging artificial intelligence to make use of all the available data. They said the industry is using AI to analyze the data and improve efficiency, product quality through design, and even raise the safety of the employees through improved processes.
These changes are already being seen across the industry. Technology is improving the efficiency, productivity, and safety of production. The future of manufacturing is bright, and it’s here.