Modern manufacturing is an increasingly automated and technology-driven industry. It relies on the application of advanced technologies and systems that are changing the face of manufacturing in ways that were inconceivable just a few decades ago.
The digitisation of manufacturing has advanced so far that it is being called Industry 4.0 - representing the fourth industrial revolution driven by data, connectivity and cyber systems.
Some of the biggest trends that form the building blocks of Industry 4.0 include:
- Cloud services - enabling virtual sharing of data and services from any location quickly and efficiently
- The Internet of Things (IoT) - transforming not just the consumer market, but the maintenance and upkeep of electronic devices used in manufacturing processes as well
- Horizontal and vertical system integration - enabling companies, departments and functions to become much more cohesive, turning them into automated value chains
- Nanotechnology - enabling things like faster computer processing, longer product lifecycles and super-precision manufacturing, and pioneering advancements in sectors such as space engineering and biotechnology
advanced data analytics and predictive technologies - enabling better process control, prevention of defects and quicker response times in manufacturing
- Augmented reality, artificial intelligence and industrial robotics - offering ways to increase productivity, improve quality and reduce cost by automating difficult or monotonous tasks
- Simulation technologies/Digital Twins - leveraging real-time data and mirroring the physical world in virtual models which can include machines, products and humans
- 3D printing (known also as additive manufacturing) - enabling the creation of almost any component using metal, plastic and other materials, reducing lead time and streamlining the design-to-production process