The manufacturing industry is still one of the largest contributors to the world economy despite the phenomenal growth of the services sector. Even though the manufacturing industry is nearing its saturation point, the industry hasn’t stopped growing and innovating. Several innovations such as automation, robotics, lean manufacturing, analytics, and outsourcing have been driving the growth of this sector. Furthermore, manufacturing industries are also looking at new avenues, product innovations, and strategic changes to remain competitive.
Developing nations largely depend on the manufacturing industry to boost their GDP. Here are some of the innovations and trends in the manufacturing industry which will define its future:
Manufacturing Industry and its Outlook – Vision 2020
Breakthrough in Material Science
Manufacturers are looking at material sciences to create products that are far superior to the existing ones. Materials such as graphene, carbon fiber, nanofibers, carbon nanotubes, and vantablack have extreme physical properties, which help in the production of futuristic products. Carbon fibers are increasingly used in the aerospace industry because of their exceedingly high strength-to-weight ratio. The exorbitant cost of such materials has hindered its application for mass production. However, these materials will eventually find their way inside consumer applications with the advent of newer materials and economies of scale in the existing ones.
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Personalization and Customization
For long, manufacturers have been emphasizing on reducing the cost using large scale production, resulting in fewer product choices to the customers. But the needs and wants of the customers have been growing to the point that they demand personalization and customization. Digital technologies have made it possible to scale up the level of personalization and customization and keep the costs low. Intelligent use of technologies such as 3D printers has also driven the level of customization along with smart product modifications like IKEA. The line between consumers and creators is blurring due to the advent of DIY platforms, product collaboration programs, crowd funding and ideation platform.
Modern products are increasingly capable of operating tasks and analyzing information with little human inputs. For most, smart products like smartphones, smartwatches, fitness trackers have been an everyday part of life. With the use of multiple sensors, connectivity, and electronics, previously analog tasks and processes could be simplified. Manufacturers have realized the potential of smart products and see it not only as a product but as a platform to create an ecosystem that allows for customization. This platform allows for a lucrative aftermarket which provides additional revenue streams through add-ons.
Big Data Analytics and Automation
Industrial control systems have been generating a vast amount of data for a long time which wasn’t put to best use. With the dramatic increase in computing power, the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), and advancement in machine learning algorithms, manufacturers can now analyze an enormous amount of data to enhance operations, resolve operational issues, improve production efficiency, and reduce wastages. The manufacturing industry is depending on big data analytics to enable automation. In a manufacturing plant, data collected from multiple sensors and control systems can be automatically fed to execute the production process.