The digital industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0 as it is often referred to, is transforming many processes within the manufacturing industry. In 2018 businesses will embrace new technology that will see the end-to-end digitisation of many physical processes and ultimately lead to increased productivity. The introduction of Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and other automated equipment means it’s a truly exciting time to be working in manufacturing.
Here we list some of the common issues experienced in manufacturing and how they can be solved by implementing 2018’s newest technologies.
Problem: Product Recalls and Equipment Failures
Solution: Embedded Metrology
If you have worked in the manufacturing industry, you’ll know the importance of quality and validation and that ensuring quality control can be a time consuming and expensive process.
Currently when there’s a product failure, employees must halt all activity and search for the fault, leading to a lot of unnecessary down-time. Quality Control must examine each machine in the faulty production line and test it. If it’s up to scratch the line is good to go, but if not, they will have to troubleshoot the next potential problem until the fault is located. This method just SCREAMS unreliability! Hence the introduction of embedded metrology.
Embedded technology is built in or alongside machines and measures the manufacturing process in real-time. It spots 100% of faults immediately rather than relying on the sample after the line has been completed. Thus, it eliminates equipment failure and product recalls. Genius!
Problem: Lean Working
Solution: Smart Factory
The evolution of technology in recent years has led to digitisation of many processes used in manufacturing. It’s no surprise that plants are starting to integrate technology into every part of their production lines and we’re certain that AI, IoT and virtual & augmented reality will become more prominent in 2018. For example, these technologies can be used to monitor spare parts storage and stock management in warehouses. It in turn reduces the amount of manual labour needed and makes the screening process much quicker.
We are already beginning to see this is action in Amazon’s cashier-less shop, where Amazon Go Customers scan the Go app as they enter the store. Smart technology then tracks which items the customer takes off the shelves and ads it to their virtual cart. Once they leave, the bill is charged to their Amazon account, eliminating the need for a cashier – pretty cool huh?
Click here to see it in action.
Problem: Human Error
Solution: 3D Printing/Manufacturing
We are still very much in the early days of 3D printing and the potential impact it will have on the manufacturing industry has yet to be realised, both practically and technologically. Although it has been used in the production of smaller objects such as hearing aids and dental crowns, it has not been integrated into the everyday running of manufacturing plants – yet.
The 3D printing industry is expected to transform nearly every industry it touches by disrupting the traditional manufacturing process and changing how manufacturers do business. This emerging technology will have an impact on material costs, incremental cost calculations and traditional assembly line and product pricing strategies.
US company, Voodoo Manufacturing, invested in a fleet of automated 3D-printers that designers and entrepreneurs can use to bring their ideas to life.
Click here to see how it works.
Problem: Skills Gap
Solution: Machine Learning and AI
The future of artificial intelligence, a.k.a. robots, in manufacturing is already being used in emerging markets, where AI displays adept sensory capabilities on the floor and predicts what will be needed off it!
Additionally, robots equipped with sensors provide valuable feedback and data which can accurately identify and fix mechanical issues, allowing companies to make the necessary changes quickly. Ultimately they are increasing efficiency and minimizing delays.
Today’s robots are not only fast and reliable, they can also perform tasks far beyond many humans’ capabilities. Watson, an AI system, beat humans at a game of Jeopardy and the thinking computer, Deep Blue can outdo many chess grand-masters.
Ireland’s first ever Masters in Artificial Intelligence will be offered in the University of Limerick this year. Click here for more details.
Problem: Contamination Control
Solution: Automated Pallet Cleaning
Many pharmaceutical companies introduce manual controls to minimize contamination from pallets. Pallets and containers can easily be contaminated by a diverse range of materials from the pallet manufacturing process and deposits from material movement. To prevent contamination, pallets are manually transferred to cleanroom areas and cleaned at separate stations, a process that is time consuming and still leaves room for human error.
Therefore, companies are now implementing Automated Pallet Cleaning systems to reduce contamination in graded areas and save valuable resources in the process. Click here to see how they work.
New technologies have opened up a range of new opportunities to increase productivity and solve problems in the manufacturing industry and we predict that many of these will be embraced by businesses in 2018.
However, if candidates are starting to worry about traditional manufacturing changing completely– don’t! There has never been a more intense or focused need for highly skilled workers with STEM talents. While automation has long-term benefits for companies, robots will not replace roles which require human creativity, emotional intelligence and social skills any time soon. Prospective candidates will always be needed to implement new technologies and they may even create a whole new pool of jobs for the future!
Matrix Recruitment Group is one of Ireland’s leading recruitment firms. 20 years in business, with offices in Dublin, Waterford, Carlow, Athlone and Galway. Matrix specialises in a number of job categories including Accountancy, Financial Services, Engineering, Manufacturing, Quality & Laboratory, Supply Chain, HR, Office Support and Sales & Marketing.