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In this first post of a two-part series, we will expand beyond our 6 general manufacturing trends we predicted would shape 2016 to now laser focus on the manufacturing technology trends that will impact manufacturers in 2016. In this first post, we will talk about the top 4 manufacturing technology trends and then tomorrow give you the final 5. As a technology company, we at Cerasis urge our manufacturing and distribution shipper customers to lean on technology as a tool for efficiency. Our transportation management system, which has been a web based platform since 1998, has an entire development team shaping it for now and in the future so our shippers continue to get value out of technology gaining such benefits of decreased errors, ability to focus on their core, and of course, overall costs savings. These manufacturing technology trends are leveraging various technology in the pursuit of the same. 

4 Core Manufacturing Technology Trends for 2016

Manufacturing is changing rapidly and growing exponentially. Once, manufacturing hinged on painstaking hours of design, blueprinting, and working with other individuals to create a finished product. As the world has become more involved in how technology impacts society, manufacturing has struggled to keep up with the demand. However, manufacturing technology is experiencing an event of groundbreaking growth, comparable to the birth of a star. 2016 promises to be one of the most outstanding and innovative years for advancing manufacturing technology in history. Growth beyond 2016 seems only limited to the possibilities of the imagination. Take a look at some of the top manufacturing technology trends for 2016 and how they will radicalize the manufacturing landscape.

1. Increasing Use and Implementation of Predictive Analytics.

Manufacturing capabilities are only as good as the materials and machinery used. The best-laid plans will fail if machine a suddenly goes down without warning or replacement. In the US and China, according to a report by Forbes magazine, increasing use of predictive analytics will make up the primary manufacturing technology trend of 2016. “With the advent of the cost of technology coming down, to deploy devices to sensors to take alarms and telemetry data, we built a […] closed-end loop,’ explains CEO Jerry Dolinsky of Verisae,

Yet, predictive analytics also has applications for increasing customer service and improving experiences across the manufacturing scope. A strong focus on predictive analytics is the fundamental factor in looking towards all new technologies and how they can be used to increase production, drive scalability, and guarantee satisfaction with the quality and quantity of products.

2. Embracing Virtual-Reality For A Variety Of Purposes.

Have you ever entered the world of virtual reality? If you’ve ever played a video game, you have been embraced by the world of virtual reality. In manufacturing, virtual-reality is often referred to as digital design, simulation, and integration. As explained byMatt LaWell at Industry Week, video games and virtual reality have many different implications for uses across engineering and increasing manufacturing efficiency. This goes back to using predictive analytics.

For example, a company may have a given design and create this design in a digital space. According to Rob Honeycutt, CEO of SafeRack, [We transformed] the application of a video game to eliminate the delays in time in when requesting a quote from a company [by] waiting for the engineers and designers at the company to respond, and reviewing the plans [for adherence to the original idea.] Essentially, the use of virtual reality in Honeycutt’s innovation eliminates the extra work, which improves overall efficiency by streamlining the process, allowing the customer to see what something will look like with a definitive cost and size almost instantaneously.

And in this video, take a look how Ford is applying motion capture technology and virtual reality to refine their vehicle and production line design, reducing employee injuries by 70 percent.

3. Creating and Using More Smart, Connected Products.

The use of smart, connected products refocuses the conversation on the Internet of Things (IoT). By 2019, the global product and service market for the IoT is expected to reach $5.649 billion, which amounts to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.6 percent. That means for every five pieces of smart, connected technologies, a new, smart, and connected item will be added every year.

Ironically, the IoT has become one of the most overused words in manufacturing, and many people simply don’t want to take the time to hear about how “machine A talking to machine B” will improve manufacturing. Yet, the applications of the IoT global product and service market is responsible for the generation of new, innovative ideas, such as autonomous vehicles, remote vehicle monitoring, reliable human-machine interactions, inexplicable scrutiny in ensuring safety systems and automation of such systems, better traffic management, and increased precision manufacturing. Today, the IoT seems obvious and overused, but manufacturers must be willing to explore the world outside of the box through the IoT, which is what will happen in 2016.

4. Increasing Use of 3D Printing.

3D printing was once used in the generation of 3D puzzles and minimal applications in manufacturing. However, the world of 3D printing, which may be referred to as additive manufacturing, is evolving. At a 25 percent CAGR, additive manufacturing is expected to reach $20.4 billion by 2019. This poses a major achievement and growth factor for the manufacturing industry in 2016. Through the 3D scanning of items, manufacturers can streamline the design and manufacturing process to rapidly create microscopically identical parts from nearly any location.

3D printing has major applications for the creation of service parts much closer to the end user than historically available. In 2016, the use of 3D printing for manufacturing will grow to focus on the customer-driven designing and co-creating of individual items. This aspect of manufacturing in 2016 will dramatically change how customers view custom product. Imagine ordering something for your size, only in your size, without the need to visit a tailor or make alterations. Now, imagine these applications on a broader scale in all forms of manufacturing, such as printing electronics on-site, during the construction of an airplane. This trend will really change the industry.

These four trends make up the most important and significant innovations in technology for use in manufacturing in 2016. In the overall scope of manufacturing, the most common trend in manufacturing publications routinely focus on how big data and the IOT are changing manufacturing, but this list of trends is the product of the intense work and application of the IOT, cloud computing, and the use of big data across the entire manufacturing landscape. However, this list is still incomplete, and the next blog post will focus on five smaller, yet vitally important manufacturing technology trends in 2016.