10 Future Trends in Production and Manufacturing

Manufacturers move from manual labor through machine-dependent assembly lines to highly automated factories. Today we see this trend, and the industry evolves.

Various trends are merging to change production, often referred to as “Industry 4.0”. Let’s look at the seven key themes driving Industry 4.0. Manufacturers are moving from manual labor through machine-dependent assembly lines to the highly automated factories we are seeing today.

1. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

Have you heard of the Internet of Things? Now there is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), where networked devices collect data to improve manufacturing processes.

2. Sensors are a classic example of IIoT devices.

Sensor data from production equipment can help growers assess many points. Starting with machine performance, improving maintenance, decreasing downtime, and even predicting machine failures. So here is the next substantial industrial trend.

5G & edge computing, the fifth generation of mobile data networks (5G), will allow manufacturers to quickly link IIoT devices. They take advantage of data collection and processing within them (edge ​​computing). Manufacturers can build a private 5G network on their premises for blazing-fast communication speeds and increased data security.

3. Predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance uses data from sensors and artificial intelligence (AI) to discover failure trends in equipment and components. The idea is that by knowing when a machine or part is likely to break down, producers can better maintain their equipment. And it’s not just about flashy new gear.

Siemens claims that it has used similar sensors in older motors and gearboxes. As a result, this equipment can analyze sensor data to diagnose problems and rectify equipment before it breaks. This demonstrates how manufacturers can use predictive maintenance on older machines.

Fourth Trend: Digital Twins

A digital twin mimics any physical object or process, and in manufacturing, a digital twin can mimic the dimensions of a new product. Consequently, it generates a digital clone of industrial equipment to test its performance in various situations.

The digital twin can even see and mimic a supply chain. By 2022, up to 70% of manufacturers may be using digital twins. They will use them for simulations and evaluations. Thus illustrating how disruptive the development of digital twinning could be.

Boeing has improved component quality by 40% using digital twins. A decade ago, then-Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg claimed that digital twins would be the most important driver of increases in manufacturing efficiency.

5. Extended Reality and Metaverse

Technologies such as virtual and augmented reality will prevail in manufacturing, improving product design and production planning, complementing human talents on assembly lines, and improving training.

Manufacturers will therefore have additional trend possibilities as the metaverse expands.

6. Dark factories

Computers can now perform activities previously only performed by humans thanks to AI. So it makes sense for machines to produce more.

Automation can increase manufacturing productivity (devices don’t get tired), accuracy and cost savings. Consequently, we may see more fully automated or dark factories, where manufacturing occurs without direct human interaction.

7. Cobots and Robots

Robots are a crucial enabler of automation. However, automation manufacturers did not design all robots to replace human labor. Automation designers made many robots to help people. For example, robotic exoskeletons help workers move larger parts safely.

We also have intelligent collaborative robots (cobots) built to operate with people.

Robots and cobots can help factories save money. Nissan used robotic arms from Universal Robots at its engine manufacturing plants in Japan to help maintain production schedules (mainly due to labor shortages). However, Nissan used cobots to help with activities such as installing engine air intakes.

8th Trend: 3D Printing

Manufacturers will be able to build more and more things using 3D printing processes, which require less resources and waste than conventional production methods. Consequently, some people think that 3D printing will usher in a new era of customization because it removes the need for economies of scale. Also, rapid prototyping with 3D printing can stimulate creativity.

Furthermore, Airbus has been employing 3D printing for almost 15 years, making it a pioneer in manufacturing.

The company uses 3D printing trends to manufacture localized, on-demand tools such as jigs and fixtures.

9. Web3 and blockchain

With the trend of Web3 and distributed computing technologies like blockchains and non-fungible tokens, manufacturers will better control their supply chains and even automate many of the transactions. Therefore, many future items will be offered by automation designers using NFT digital certifications.

10. More innovative and more sustainable goods

The rise of smart connected IoT devices is redefining the way designers get things done. Also, what things do they do. Everything from vacuum cleaners to toilets now have “smart” versions, and the search for smart items shows no signs of stopping.

Manufacturers will therefore have to find new ways to provide consumers with the smart things they want. Also, people will choose more and more recyclable, reusable and eco-friendly things.

The throwaway mentality of the past is expected to be coming to an end; therefore, manufacturers will also have to consider this. Remember, not everything that glitters is glittery.

Image Credit: Moose Photos; pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Richie

Editor-in-Chief at ReadWrite

Deanna is the managing editor of ReadWrite. Previously, she worked as the editor-in-chief of Startup Grind and has over 20 years of content development and management experience.

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