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The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are similar, but both function on the connection of equipment to the internet and applying data collected to consumer and business needs, including the needs of manufacturers. From boosting the level of artificial intelligence to promoting better means of mitigating and preventing risks, technology will change how manufacturers grow throughout 2017. Consequently, you need to understand the top five trends in manufacturing tech and how they relate back to connected devices and the IoT.

The First 5 Manufacturing Tech Trends of 2017

1. Artificial Intelligence Will Grow More Important.

The Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation predicts market use of artificial intelligence will expand 3 percent in 2017, but investments in expansion and development of artificial intelligence will grow 300 percent this year, explains Erin Remaley of Open Arc. Expansion of artificial intelligence means more manufacturers and global entities are turning to advanced computer systems and platforms, including transportation management systems-as-a-service (TMSaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers, for answers and insight into ways to boost production and reduce inefficiencies.

Artificial intelligence also goes back to the increased collection, analysis and application of meaningful data in business. Robotics that apply data to make decisions and perform actions function through the IoT. Thus, more investments into artificial intelligence naturally contribute to more investments into the IoT, further propelling the industry forward into a more advanced, smart business model.

2. Apps and Smart Devices Will Enable Communication and Collaboration.

Communication and collaboration are keys to better manufacturing processes, and new apps and smart devices will further empower this trend.

For example, mobile apps can be used to give remote workers and employees information regarding market demands while in the field or working in different regions of the globe. Similarly, data can be optimized through dashboards, reducing the amount of work needed to review information and make decisions. In other words, more smart devices and apps will lead to informed decisions that will give manufacturers an upper hand in managing trade and business with other supply chain partners. This may include business dealings with shippers, logistics providers, point-of-sale business partners and beyond.

3. 3D Printing Will Make Repairs or Replacement Simpler.

The application of additive manufacturing tech through 3D printing will make repairs and replacement parts more accessible and customizable. This will give manufacturers an advantage when reviewing slots in warehouses for storage by eliminating unnecessary excess replacement parts storage. Meanwhile, 3D printing means manufacturers will be able to reduce overhead costs in completing repairs as the “printing” of replacement parts will move closer to end users. In other words, the cost to ship products back to manufacturers for repair will be virtually eliminated.

4. The IIoT Will Reduce Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities.

Traditional manufacturing tech had little concern over cybersecurity. Equipment was not connected to the internet, and the number of people involved in the sales process did not have to use more than one or two computers. However, modern manufacturing tech is becoming more complicated and connected via the IIoT, opening the door to vulnerabilities in cybersecurity, explains Manufacturing Talk Radio.

Fortunately, the IIoT can be leveraged through the cloud to enhance cybersecurity as well. Thus, 2017 will see more manufacturers evaluating existing cybersecurity measures, testing for vulnerabilities and increasing proactive, preventative measures.

5. Predictive Analytics Will Be Leveraged to Reduce Risk and Boost Collaboration.

More than 25 billion devices will be connected to the IoT globally, including consumer and manufacturer devices, reports The Consequently, every connected device adds to the amount of data that can be analyzed and leveraged to reduce risk and boost collaboration across new, emerging and existing markets.

This will be further used to gain insights into what markets demand, including new product prototypes and public perception regarding such products. Regarding increased collaboration, the application of predictive analytics through this data will give manufacturers more information to ensure enough products and supplies are available to keep up with demand.

In a Nutshell.

Manufacturers will face many challenges in 2017. The U.S. manufacturing market appears to be benefiting from the new administration’s policies, but uncertainty could spell doom for the global economy. Meanwhile, overseas manufacturers and entities that engage in global trade could be limited in their ability to meet the needs of business-to-business partners and emerging markets. These five trends in technology, powered by the IoT, will be critical to the success of manufacturers throughout the coming year.

 Manufacturers are starting to look at the IoT with a sense of hope and renewed interest in providing the right product, at the right price and at any time. Part II of this series will delve into six manufacturing tech trends that do not necessarily require the application of connected devices, but of course, the IoT’s influence will still be felt even when not directly involved.