When internet connects machines, you have Internet of Things. And this paradigm is going to take over production in factories as well. IoT is expected to lead technology disruption in the manufacturing sector. Internet-enabled equipment will be smarter devices – with real time information collection, processing and analysis capabilities – leading to higher levels of efficiency of the machinery, superior resource utilization, reduced downtime and better productivity. These smart equipments would require minimal human intervention once programmed and would be able to talk to computers across networks and take decisions on overhauling, replacements, optimizations, etc on its own.
2. 3D Printing
The next BIG thing that is seeing spectacular research, development and commercialisation is the 3D Printing Technology. This immensely important breakthrough helps build (print) physical objects using resins (or plastics/other materials) from computer-generated framework. Manufacturers are extremely excited about this technology because it cuts down costs and time required for building prototypes, for product development & iterations and for final production. In fact, companies can actually A/B test their products in the product with variants and based on the feedback go for large-scale production. Because of the low capital costs of production, companies can now also make mass customizations or even on-demand production.
3. Augmented Reality
Manufacturing aided by Augmented Reality has been a ‘work-in-progress’ for a long time. Now prevalent Computer aided Manufacturing (or CAM) has led research companies to graduate to Augmented Reality Aided Manufacturing (or ARAM). ARAM leverages real-time data with computer-generated images to create a virtual reality that is projected in multiple dimensions. The projections can be seen using a head gear or a wearable glass or a tablet. ARAM helps workers receive instructions/guidance as they go about doing their job, new employees in their training, employers enhance safety of their workers and lot more.
While many experts say that 100 % use of Robotics in factories is the future, 2017 certainly is not the ‘future’ that they are talking about. As a precursor to Robotics, what we will see in 2017 is Cobotics. Cobotics as a technology brings together robotics, cognitive tools and bio mechanics and enhances employee productivity. In other words, Cobotics will assist factory workers rather than replace them. This collaboration between humans & Robotics will make arduous tasks easier to perform. Programmed machines take over the difficult portions of the work – be it work involving heavy lifting, noisy ambience, toxic chemicals, extreme temperature and more.