Technological advances in the automotive industry over the past few years have led to disruptions in vehicle manufacturing. Many of these automotive technology advances were created in response to the fuel efficiency standards former President Barack Obama established in 2012. This has led to automotive manufacturers having to retool their traditional processes to adapt to disruptions. Technology trends disrupting the automotive sector today include 3-D printing, electric vehicles, and radio frequency identification (RFID). Learn more about each and how automakers are using them today as they advance toward the future of vehicle manufacturing.
3-D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has the potential to significantly reduce the time and costs involved in manufacturing new vehicles. As the cost to purchase and implement 3-D printers on manufacturing floors steadily decreases, vehicle manufacturers may increasingly adopt this tech. Industry insiders expect 3-D printing to simplify vehicle manufacturing in some of the following ways:
- Prototyping — With 3-D printing, vehicle manufacturers can more easily develop and visualize prototypes. Also, they require less time to develop prototypes and alterations.
- Manufacturing — Automakers can use 3-D printing to manufacture vehicle parts more quickly and easily, cutting down on vehicle production time. Additionally, the technology allows for quicker spare parts production for vehicles already on the market.
- Tooling — Manufacturers can also use 3-D printing to develop the specialized tools they need for vehicle production, thereby making the tools more readily available for future proprietary use.
3-D printing isn’t the only technology taking hold in the vehicle manufacturing landscape.
In a bid to achieve the aforementioned fuel efficiency standards, many automotive industry insiders have turned to electric vehicle production — at least in some capacity. At present, Tesla appears to be the established leader in this field, having developed most of the technology other automotive company leaders have adopted. However, Tesla executives are struggling to keep up with demand due to difficulties in ramping up the production line. This has provided an opening that other companies are taking advantage of: BMW recently announced its electric car series, and Volvo is developing its Polestar brand of electric cars.
But they’ve got a bit of competition. In fact, while Tesla leaders and others are increasing production, the Ford Escape is the top-selling vehicle in the United States, putting Tesla’s Model 3 in 70th place. Producing approximately 1,100 Escapes per day has rounded out to over a million vehicles produced since January of this year.
While vehicle manufacturers are making the move to electric, albeit slowly, still another tech trend is shaping the industry.
Although auto manufacturers are struggling with production, radio frequency identification (RFID) offers safety through transparency and the ability to track various vehicle components in production. This is especially important during vehicle customization when manufacturers must add particular components into specific vehicles so they comply with state or country vehicle regulatory requirements. RFID allows manufacturers to verify correct vehicle component installations, cutting down on post-production vehicle inspection time.
As technology continues advancing, further automotive industry disruption is likely inevitable. Savvy manufacturers will do their market research, learning which of these tools will be best applicable to their production lines — and offer the best return on investment.