Digital Strategy

What Does the Factory of the Future Look Like?

November 25, 2020

Here's what a typical manufacturing process might look like in the not-so-distant future.

The world is moving faster than ever, and manufacturers must keep up through digital transformation. Here's what a typical manufacturing process might look like in the not-so-distant future.

Download the Factory of the Future infographic now.

Increased use of 3D printing and additive manufacturing

Normal manufacturing is a subtractive process, in which material is cut down to size. Using 3D printing, this process can be inverted to start from nothing, building up to the final product. 3D printing is often used for modeling and building specific parts.

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, helps companies with prototyping, designing small parts, and creating scalable parts of sophisticated machinery.

In 2019, the global additive manufacturing market grew to over $10.4 billion, crossing the pivotal double-digit billion threshold for the first time in its nearly 40-year history. Factories of the future will use more additive and less subtractive manufacturing to optimize their business model and respond to demand faster.

More automation everywhere

Automation has already taken over: In just four years, the average total task-hours will be 58% completed by humans and 42% by machines. Is your factory ready?

Increasingly, due to the power of artificial intelligence, humans are working next to their robotic counterparts. According to the International Federation of Robotics, the number of operational industrial robot jobs increases by 14% annually. Rather than being replaced by robots, this trend will likely continue for the foreseeable future.

These machines are powered by other fourth industrial revolution technologies. Robots in manufacturing use software which enables them to “learn” if something is incorrect or off on production lines. They can then notify maintenance or production managers.

It's possible that self-driving vehicles used in cargo shipping will likely be the first area of the industry to be significantly disrupted by new technologies in automation.

Deploying Internet of Things (IoT) devices

The manufacturing industry spent $183 billion into IoT in 2017, and industrial sector experts predict Industry 4.0 spending to increase to $310 billion by 2023.

Digital sensors that transmit and emit data are getting more popular in manufacturing supply chains, and no wonder — the biggest use cases for IoT and IIoT are in leveraging big data in operations, predictive maintenance, asset management, and personnel management. For example, a smart factory might use digital sensors to monitor air quality or production speed.

Other examples of industrial Internet of Things applications include tracking productivity across the production floor and accelerating new product development by providing data to decision makers faster than ever before. Small IoT devices keep track of the final product from the factory floor to the customer’s hands. In a smart manufacturing product lifecycle, these devices can report back location, time, and other necessary details.

Learn more about the factory of the future in the infographic.

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Kathryn Kosmides


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