Top 5 Automation Trends That Manufacturers Must Lookout For

Marketing Team
Published on January 24, 2021

If you have been a part of the manufacturing industry for a few years now, we are certain that you are familiar with the term "Industry 4.0". The chief objective of this digital disruption is to provide manufacturers with a set of advanced tools and technologies that would improve resource and inventory optimization, increase operational visibility, and enhance customer engagement. Now that we are gradually progressing towards the fifth round of the industrial revolution, the focus has shifted from upgrading the means of production through technology to making way for a perfect balance between automation and human labor.

The ever-increasing intensity of market competition has compelled several manufacturing companies to thoroughly assess their existing processes, strategies, and supply chain and recuperate those using smart tools and technology. Therefore, in order to succeed and sustain their profits, manufacturers must keep an eye on the emerging trends of their industry that are capable of opening doors to cost-effective and productive manufacturing facilities. Here are the top 6 automation trends that manufacturers must look out for this year.

Internet of Things (IoT)

Although the Internet of Things (IoT) has been embraced by a lot of companies around the world, it still continues to be on the top of the list in terms of innovation, feasibility, and adaptability. By connecting multiple standalone devices via the internet, IoT has made it easier for manufacturers to closely monitor their business processes and gain actionable insights. Bringing together all the pieces of data available with a company on the same platform can help business leaders re-evaluate, optimize, and improve their manufacturing operations for higher revenue generation. Apart from this, manufacturers can make use of real-time data to spot issues in their systems before they grow in size and lead to costly, irrevocable issues.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning

The fact that the capacity of the data inventory owned by a company is increasing with each passing day cannot be denied. For organizations to effectively capitalize on this data and outline hidden patterns and trends in customer behavior, bringing artificial intelligence and machine learning into the picture is incredibly important. Even though different companies might choose to employ these two technologies in distinct ways, there are a few areas in which AI and machine learning reap benefits in similar degrees for all. For instance, when you have an experienced ERP consultant assisting you with the deployment of AI solutions, you can get a transparent picture of the market trends and derive logical conclusions to help decision-makers base their inferences on credible data rather than instincts. From augmented supply chain visibility, asset tracking, and inventory management to warehouse and transportation cost reduction and forecast accuracy, artificial intelligence takes the burden off the employees and reduces the scope of error in these critical spheres.

ERP Systems Will Have a New Role To Play In Automation

Now that we are dealing with digital transformation in the manufacturing industry, ERP systems cannot go unmentioned. Their abilities to unify data from multiple sources, provide real-time information and streamline operations have translated them as essential in every manufacturing company, despite its size and age.

As far as delineating new ways of using ERP systems are concerned, there are principally two approaches. Firstly, manufacturing companies can turn to Power Apps to protect their prevailing ERP systems with an extra layer of flexibility so that they can acclimatize with the new standards whenever something unforeseen comes up. Secondly, manufacturers can piggyback on data for ERP agile ERP upgrades. In this case, manufacturers can merge data platforms and fabricate adaptable functions on the current data models without having to make too many changes in the ERP system.

Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance, as the name suggests, if carried decorously, can save manufacturers a lot of resources, time, and money. Needless to say, whenever a piece of equipment in the production area starts misbehaving, the other machinery too is affected and undergoes loss of productivity and downtime.

Hence, it becomes extremely crucial for the manufacturers to stay updated about the health and performance of the equipment at all times and schedule maintenance as soon as a fault is predicted. Depending on the nature of production, the company can delegate its unique set of performance metrics that would automatically gather and sort data and send an alert every time a glitch is identified. These insights are imperative for manufacturers as it delivers them with a better understanding of how their production line works and the estimated life of their equipment. If required, the organization can also arrange for monitoring tests while the machines are operating to prevent complete shutdowns and production damage.

Collaborative Robots

Since the time automation and robotics were introduced in the manufacturing industry, a common misconception doing rounds is that they would soon replace the human workforce. However, the truth is just the opposite. As mentioned above, the fifth industrial revolution would be about leveraging technology in the most suitable manner so that employees can hook their attention to the more challenging tasks and devise more lucrative decisions. The goal is to establish a collaborative site where people and robots work together to ensure faster and safer business operations.

Collaborative robots, or cobots, are expected to spare the manual workforce from conducting repetitive tasks and boost overall productivity. It is not long until the cobots become regular and decisive contributors in the manufacturing industry as they are meant to be programmed for managing tasks like material assembling, handling, and moving heavy products from one point to another.