Digitalization and Smart Factories: Manufacturing Trends for 2019
Change is in the air.
2018 was an incredible year for innovation in the manufacturing industry. Countless new manufacturing trends have revolutionized the factory floor. Smarter, faster, and more efficient processes mean that work can be done at an unprecedented rate.
In 2019, digitalization will play a bigger role than ever in manufacturing. The onset of industry 4.0 means that more and more analogue processes will become digitized in the name of efficiency, cost effectiveness, and improved work conditions.
But this also means that in order to be a true leader in the world of manufacturing, you’ll have to be able to keep up.
Despite advances in automated technologies, there will still be a high demand for living, breathing human workers on the shop floor of the future. As we continue to change the role of factory workers, it is essential that safety remain a top priority for any manufacturing process. As you know, any lapse in safety can be devastating. In addition to the obvious moral and public repercussions of an industrial accident, unsafe work conditions can cost your business millions.
Thankfully, as factories become smarter, safety innovations are scaling to match. How do smarter factories and better digital work elements help to ensure safety for our workers?
- As interactions between humans and their automated counterparts increase, they have to get along! Advances in monitoring systems and safety features such as better motion-sensing lasers will ensure that relations between humans and robots are safe and efficient.
- Dramatic industrial accidents are our worst fear. But what about the toll that routine manual labor can take on a worker’s body? Exosuits, designed to enhance the natural motions of the human body, will help reduce the inevitable physical stress of factory jobs.
- Safety hinges on the assumption that everyone on the factory floor knows exactly what he/she is doing. As manufacturing processes and machinery become more complex and the workforce changes, old instructions can quickly become irrelevant. Today’s workers need adaptable, easy-to-use instructions that provide crystal clear guidance at a moments notice.
Growing Skill Gap in the Manufacturing Workforce
It’s an unfortunate fact that a large portion of our workforce will retire every year, simply due to age. As older employees resign, a new and less experienced group of workers will take their place. This will cause a series of unique challenges for the manufacturing industry.
- This older generation of workers possesses an incredible amount of valuable knowledge and experience. They have likely been working in this field for many years, and have a fantastic understanding of processes and equipment.
- However, much of this know-how is not recorded in a standardized, easily-accessible way. Instead, it’s passed along by word of mouth through a workforce phenomenon known as “tribal knowledge.”