2017 has brought plenty of change and innovation to the manufacturing industry, from stronger automation and interconnectivity to deeper customization and a customer-centric focus. What sort of gifts will the industry give us in 2018? Here are a few predictions from analysts and insiders that we agree with regarding what the new year has in store.
1. Antony Bourne says the Internet of Things will expand to more than 50 percent of product design. The IoT is already being used throughout logistics, diagnostics and supply chains, to name a few applications. It will expand into the first phases of design, using data such as inventory management, remote maintenance and more to determine how a product can be designed to naturally incorporate new revenue and services from the beginning.
2. Syncron predicts more subscription-based services in 2018. The transactional model won’t disappear any time soon, but post-purchase service and maintenance has made it necessary to cultivate the sale well after initial purchase. Additionally, businesses such as Amazon are threatening the services parts industry, which means manufacturers need to think beyond the physical product to stay competitive.
3. Tim Holdsworth predicts augmented reality will help conceptualize product design and the assembly process before anything is ever built. AR can help spot potential problems in a system before it’s put into use, helping to streamline the entire manufacturing process from idea to finished product.
4. Mr. Bourne and Mr. Holdsworth both mention that 3D printing will take a giant step in its application and development beyond consumer goods and small-scale applications. Major companies such as GE are utilizing the technique to reduce the weight of key engine components, improving fuel efficiency in the process. Look for 2018 to be a year where more and more specialty printing companies rise up to fill this need.
With the ever-growing use of technology and automated systems, there’s no telling what new discoveries or applications await us in the years to come, but where we’ve been and where we are can point us in the right direction. What big gifts do you think manufacturing has for us in the new year? Share in the comments below.