As a business owner, it’s essential for you to keep up with the current news and trends that may affect your business. No matter what industry you’re in, changes in the marketplace can significantly impact your profit, and that is especially true in the manufacturing industries. If your workflow processes are not running smoothly or not working efficiently, a domino effect of failures can negatively impact the amount (or quality) of products you output.
Since 1996, Sam’s Mechanical has been working with businesses like yours to help optimize workloads as effectively as possible. Whether that’s recommending the best forklift upgrade to buy, or offering tips to organize your warehouse, we always strive to be on top, no matter what the state of the market.
Over the last 25 years, the employment rate in manufacturing industries in the United States has been on the decline. So while it may constantly feel like an uphill battle for your business, we’re here to give you a lift. Literally.
Current Predictions for US Manufacturing Growth
Despite the decline over the last few decades, the manufacturing industries actually have a fairly optimistic future outlook. Based on new research and reports, most manufacturers have quite a positive outlook about their companies’ futures. According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the problem comes in because there are “too many manufacturing jobs and not enough workers to fill them.” But despite this, the US is poised to overtake China in 2020 as the leader in manufacturing.
As wages in China rise and the country faces economic and industrial challenges, the opportunities for other nations (like the US) arise to be a competitive force when it comes to the cost of labor and materials. One of the causes of China’s success in manufacturing has been its heavy investment in robotics and technology, but other nations are starting to pay attention.
Technologies Driving the Industry
The trend of innovative technology in manufacturing is on the rise, which is part of the expected success of US manufacturing growth. But what are the challenges and opportunities that manufacturers are going to need to watch out for to grow and keep profitability in 2020 and beyond? Here are a few of the current trends and how this form of advanced manufacturing can be used in your business.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few years, you’re likely already aware of the rise in virtual or augmented reality (VR and AR). Mostly used in the video gaming industry, VR is starting to make its way into the manufacturing industries as well. With this virtual software, manufacturing workers are able to simulate different production processes and configurations, making it safer for employees to operate.
In addition, companies have also been able to improve the quality of products with augmented reality. By being able to move and assess a 3D image, technicians can see greater details and possible defects. Car and airplane companies, like Ford for example, have been using VR to test out certain road and weather conditions to ensure better safety conditions for drivers and pilots.
At the end of the day, the future is undoubtedly virtual. We advise any manufacturing businesses to take the time to learn more and improve your processes with VR to not only save you money, but also to help avoid possible unplanned downtime.
Speaking of unplanned downtime, anyone in the manufacturing industry knows that this can cost your business a significant amount of money. But, we also know that machines break down from time to time, it’s just a matter of how you deal with the issue. Instead of waiting until the machine breaks to fix it, a lot of manufacturers are starting to use a technology called predictive maintenance.
Predictive maintenance is used to, well, “predict” possible problems with your machines before they happen. By using analytical data from each of your machines, operators—with the help of computers—will be able to see patterns in said data and see when maintenance may be required. So instead of having unplanned downtime, planned downtime can happen to service your machines, maximizing your “uptime and the life of a component” that will “ultimately result in significant cost savings.”
Another piece of advanced manufacturing that is making an impact is artificial intelligence (AI). It’s no secret that computers are smart and are able to do tasks outside of human limitations, but now we are able to use AI in certain factory production processes, as well. Tasks like the predictive maintenance that we mentioned earlier are now possible, as well as shortening the design time for products, having better quality control, and reducing materials waste.
Right now, the programming behind AI can be extremely expensive and probably not viable for every company to implement. But as technology advances and as our AI systems improve, robots won’t be as cost-inefficient, and will be available for more common applications.
Internet of Things
Does your home or business have “smart” technology such as lightbulbs, thermostats, refrigerators (or more) that are hooked up to WiFi? If so, consider yourself a part of what is called the “Internet of Things” or IoT.
In simple terms, IoT is defined as a device that has a unique identifier and has “the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.” In manufacturing, we refer to this as Industrial IoT (IIoT).
Everything that we previously mentioned in this blog—AI, VR, and predictive maintainence—are all a part of the grand scheme of IIoT. From efficiency to automation, IIoT is taking these intelligent devices and putting them directly on to the manufacturing floor.
Keeping your business running smoothly and efficiently can now be greatly improved by implementing IIoT into your process. Production flow can be monitored to help eliminate waste, equipment can be managed remotely, you can get alerts when a machine is in use or available, or it can even help your team locate products more easily and keep your warehouse organized.
We get it—this is a lot of information and a lot of changes coming down the pipeline to the manufacturing industry. Technology can be intimidating, and even sometimes downright scary. However, taking the time to learn about and embrace it will make the transition into the future much smoother for you and your business.
At Sam’s Mechanical, we’re also taking steps to embrace the future. Our forklifts and forklift attachments are only getting better and better as technology advances, and we are excited to work with you and see how our equipment can help. Whether that means consulting with you about your heavy equipment needs, renting a forklift, or coming to your business to make recommendations that enhance your bottom line, we’re here to help. Contact us today and step into the future of your business with Sam’s Mechanical!