Four manufacturing trends shaping the Factory of the Future

By Sean Galea-Pace
Manufacturing Global examines four trends that are shaping the Factory of the Future in manufacturing...

The influence of the Internet of Things (IoT) has had a transformative effect on manufacturers and the way day-to-day operations are conducted.

Manufacturers must ensure factory operations are future-fit to accelerate transformation. As a result, it is important that companies seek to adopt and leverage the latest trends and disruptive technologies to obtain a competitive advantage. The four megatrends that are impacting factory landscapes and should be front and centre for decision-makers are:

  1. Skills Gap - Manufacturers will continue to see the challenges of a shrinking talent pool - particularly in developed nations. Some roles will disappear but these are likely be the mundane and repetitive tasks best completed by robots. Other positions will become available and these are set to be high value and knowledge-based to exploit the data within the system. Agile and adaptive change management is required to ensure that you effectively move between roles and gain access to or develop the new skills you need. 
  2. Disruptive Technologies - IoT is only one of the many disruptive digital technologies that every manufacturer is faced with. Companies also have access to technologies such as advanced analytics, AI, drones, Blockchain, robotics, 3D printing and wearables. Production process requirements within every company are different so there is definitely no ‘one size fits all’ for the Factory of the Future.  
  3. Digital Transformation - It enables every aspect of factory operations to be connected and monitored. This IoT data can be used to simply feed operational systems to improve performance, or blended with data from other enterprise systems to begin to change how the entire factory and supply chain operates. 
  4. Data Monetisation - Data is the heartbeat for the Factory of the Future. Through applied AI and advanced analytics, data will drive all processes, detect operational errors, provide user feedback and improve the volume and quality of production output.  

The manufacturing leaders of tomorrow are embracing game-changing technologies now and quickly transitioning from the old mindset of waiting for market advancements to settle in. Companies slow to adopt new trends take a significant risk, particularly post-COVID-19, as future and global rivals continue to move as the industry evolves. 

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