How Software and Modern Tech are Changing Manufacturing Industries
The manufacturing industry is one of the most important sectors across the world. It’s instrumental in supporting a thriving economy, provides jobs to communities, and sparks innovations that improve lives. Nevertheless, it is also a sector that faces significant challenges.
The good news is that the rise of our digital landscape offers a range of supportive solutions. Over the last couple of decades, developers have committed to creating tools that help make the manufacturing industry more agile and impactful. These applications aren’t limited to improving productivity. Rather, the tools available right now are continuing to change manufacturing in profound and innovative ways.
Let’s take a closer look at how software and modern tech are changing manufacturing.
In manufacturing, as with most sectors, resources are finite and valuable. As such, it is vital to maintain control of what you have at your disposal. Effective resource management practices enable your company to allocate the best assets to address the most appropriate challenges. This may surround effective budget application, matching tech to tasks, and appointing time to activities. It’s worth noting that there is software and hardware in the industry at the moment that helps to make resource management more practical.
A key aspect of any good resource management strategy is data analytics. This helps you to make more informed choices about asset allocation and performance. Devices in the industrial internet of things (IIoT) are equipped with sensors that scan items at crucial points throughout the production, warehousing, and shipping stages. Paired with data analytics software, these tools can provide real-time information about how resources are being utilized, where areas of wastage occur, and how to enact improvements.
Another important consideration for how tech can help resource management is found in inventory control. Many manufacturing businesses struggle with getting the right balance of supply to meet changing demands. Artificial intelligence (AI) inventory management software can review data on your resources alongside that of the market. It can then produce forecasts you can utilize to better plan production changes.
Quality is key to a thriving manufacturing business. Unless your products consistently meet high consumer and industry expectations, you’re likely to experience reductions in engagement. Not to mention that faulty or substandard products are likely to be frequently returned. In either case, the result is likely to be a significant hit to your financial stability. It is, therefore, vital to adopt technology that helps you to boost quality standards.
It’s important to first recognize that many of the quality issues faced by manufacturers are the result of employee mistakes. Your business can mitigate drops in quality while bolstering safety and security by harnessing technological tools that reduce human error. One of the key resources you can utilize here is automated intelligent manufacturing processes. These largely remove the human element from unnecessary and repetitive tasks. It’s also vital that employees receive effective training on how to use these tools and systems so they can interact with them in a less risky manner.
You should also consider the potential of upgraded software and hardware for quality control procedures. Automated tools in the IIoT can be attached to production equipment and monitor the condition of each item. The software can be set to identify breaches in quality parameters and immediately notify workers when these occur. This empowers your company to address quality issues immediately, preventing widespread issues.
One of the common topics of discussion surrounding technology is the effect it can have on jobs, especially when it comes to which jobs will and won’t be replaced by AI. AI is among the tools often cited as instrumental in replacing all but trade roles in highly-skilled areas. The emotional connections made by healthcare workers and the dexterity of electricians are among the characteristics that shield them from unemployment throughout a digital transformation. While manufacturing employees aren’t usually considered to fall within these groups, modern tech can in some ways help to make their jobs more secure.
This is usually from the perspective of how technology helps to transform roles. Automated manufacturing, devices in the IIoT, and data analytics software can all be used to handle many formerly manual tasks. Nevertheless, rather than replacing human workers, these tools need collaborators. Tech-savvy manufacturing employees are in significant demand in the industry to utilize solutions more effectively and attend to software or hardware maintenance issues. This means that employees committed to upskilling can improve their career prospects, bolster their job stability, and impact their earning power.
Another way in which software and modern tech are improving manufacturing job stability is through the use of applicant tracking systems (ATS). This human resources (HR) software enables your company to more efficiently and accurately identify the most suitable candidates for a position. It also helps to assess candidate data so you can tailor the most appropriate training programs upon hiring to fill any skills gaps. This helps ensure workers have the best chance of gaining jobs that reflect their abilities and to progress through the business. It also means your business can spend less on hiring and training candidates that are later discovered to be unsuitable.
Enhancing Safety and Security
One of the most important responsibilities of any business is to reduce risks for staff and stakeholders. Manufacturing, in particular, is rife with potential hazards. Employees are often exposed to dangers to their physical and mental health. The business, investors, and consumers can also face risks from increased cybersecurity threats aimed at the manufacturing sector. Software and technology have an important role to play in providing protection.
Firstly, in particularly hazardous fields, virtual reality (VR) can help introduce new workers to realistic training scenarios. This provides employees with the skills they need to reduce risks without exposing them to unnecessary hazards early on in their training. Alongside this, devices in the IIoT can monitor conditions and activities in real-time, providing both workers and supervisors with data on present dangers to should respond to.
From the perspective of cybersecurity, it’s vital to recognize that the greater adoption of technology in the industry exposes businesses to potential risks. Each device can potentially act as a gateway for criminals into the company’s networks. As such, AI-driven cybersecurity platforms are being used to scan and monitor information passing through all systems. Machine learning protocols can also analyze data to make predictions about potential risk areas that need to be addressed.
Software and modern tech is improving manufacturing processes in a variety of ways. Devices in the IIoT are instrumental in improving quality and providing data for better resource management. The presence of AI software drives a need for more tech-savvy workers while also ensuring the most appropriate professionals rise to the top. VR and machine learning are also ensuring employees stay safe and protecting stakeholders from cybersecurity breaches. As more tools continue to be developed, it is likely that the manufacturing industry will continue to become more agile and innovative.
*This article is written by Ainsley Lawrence. View more of Ainsley’s articles here.