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[Infographic] 6 Recent Trends in Manufacturing Technology to Increase Agile Responsiveness, Continuous Improvement & Customization


A Quick Recap of Recent Trends in Manufacturing Technology to Think About 2017.

Although apps and smart devices will make an impact in manufacturing technologies this year, a few other recent trends in manufacturing technology will dramatically redefine industry standards. Sustainable alternatives to traditional manufacturing will replace existing processes, and avoiding the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will finally become impossible. For your business to succeed, you need to apply these principles to your manufacturing operations, and think about what each one of the recent trends in manufacturing technology means for your target markets too.

1. Green Manufacturing Will Replace Existing Methodologies.

Leading up to the election of 2016, manufacturers were uncertain as to which investments would be most appropriate. The election of Donald Trump for president appears to have reinvigorated efforts to bring more manufacturers back to the U.S., and the push toward green, sustainable alternatives to traditional manufacturing will continue to dominate the market, asserts Stuart Hall of Global Manufacturing,

Green initiatives are more than just a political ideal. They are becoming essential components to saving money for manufacturers. As the availability of resources and raw materials has grown tighter, a circular economy is evolving. Unlike traditional, linear economies, a circular economy takes advantage of product flows from both direction. In other words, recycled, reusable materials can be processed and used to reduce the cost of manufacturing items. Consequently, companies can continue to make a profit while keeping eco-conscious motives in mind. Furthermore, green initiatives are pushing consumers toward companies that embrace sustainable ideals, so this trend of all recent trends in manufacturing technology will continue to grow in importance throughout the coming year.

2. Companies Will Turn to Low-Cost Marketing and Funding Solutions.

New technology can help manufacturers reach new markets and create new products. However, more companies are still looking for cost-effective ways to develop and test prototypes, and social media and crowdfunding may be the solution, explains Joe Birkedale of Catalyst. Most companies already have technologies in place to interact with customers, but crowdfunding and social media provides another channel for communication. This communication can be leveraged to gain insight and feedback for new prototypes from consumers and industry experts while in the research and development process. Thus, companies can eliminate costs during the design process and deliver an appropriate product in a timely fashion.

3. More Off-Site IT Investments Will Be Made.

The days of in-house IT departments are obsolescent, reports Steve Menaker of the Cincinnati Business Courier. Cloud-based technologies are replacing antiquated, legacy systems, and major manufacturers are planning to launch new investments into customer relationship management (CRM) tools. Furthermore, the growing need to enhance cybersecurity and maintain new system implies more companies will outsource IT services to third-party entities, including third-party logistics providers (3PLs), who provide additional, value-added services. Ultimately, this push to outsource technology will make more technology available to small and medium-sized businesses.

4. Avoiding the IIoT Will Be Impossible.

Some companies have held out on implementing the IIoT in manufacturing for initial investment reasons, cyber security concerns or other issues. However, this will become an impossibility in 2017. Any type of new system purchased will have connectivity with the internet, provided the company has internet access. Thus, more companies will be able to lower prices through lowering the cost of manufacturing, shipping and repair or replacements. Meanwhile, the increasing use of wearables will enhance the productivity of smart factories by increasing visibility, reducing risks and ensuring accountability among employees. Ultimately, the age of manual processes and little insight has ended.

5. Customization Will Replace Traditional Inventory Management.

According to the Global Dispatch, traditional inventory management operations will change in 2017. Inventory management will become more reliant on advanced computer analytics systems to manage inventory in real time. This will eliminate shrink from theft, damages and errors during shipping, reducing overhead and improving operations. Moreover, companies will be able to manage warehouses more efficiently by eliminating overstocking or understocking issues, and new technologies, including 3D printing, will make customization of inventory needs easier.

6. Responsiveness Will Become Synonymous With Real Time.

Manufacturers have always faced a battle with responsiveness. Business-to-business and omnichannel sales are making this challenge more difficult. However, greater visibility and speed in production are helping manufacturers create price quotes for new products and get products from the factory to the end user more quickly. reports Louis Columbus of Supply Chain 24/7. On the customer side of the equation, better pricing will translate into better public perception and positive word-of-mouth marketing through social channels. In other words, manufacturer responsiveness will become synonymous with real-time orders from end users. Consequently, manufacturers will see a rise in communication and collaboration throughout the supply chain. 

Putting It All Together.

Technology is changing how manufacturers respond to markets around the world. Companies are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprints, embracing “green,” sustainable alternatives, and they are finding customers are willing to pay more for products that live up to their expectations, ranging from green to lean production. Although this two-part series in manufacturing technology covered many things, the best way to remember this information is to think about it visually, and the following infographic, created by RSM US LLP, can help you apply these technologies to your company throughout 2017. 

Recent Trends in Manufacturing Technology