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Manufacturing Trends: 2018 & Beyond

Manufacturing around the world is undergoing some of the most innovative changes since the Industrial Revolution, and these emerging technological innovations have the potential to be just as transformative by enabling exponentially greater speed, transparency and accuracy throughout the supply chain.

According to IDC FutureScape, a global survey, some of the manufacturing trends you can anticipate by the year 2020 include:

2018 manufacturing trends

  • 60% will use digital platforms for connectivity, collaboration and coordination. As cloud-based technologies grow into open-access ecosystems with seamless connectivity, the exchange of information, money, trust and capabilities will be faster, easier and more secure.
  • 20% will use embedded intelligence to automate and streamline processes and production. Building on IoT, blockchain, cognitive computing and other existing and emerging technologies, self-learning systems will accelerate the pace of innovation and allow currently unanticipated manufacturing trends to flourish.
  • 75% will share data via industry clouds. Cloud capabilities are simplifying the processes and reducing the costs of data sharing, increasing both the applications and value of the data.
  • 30% of technical staff will need direct experience in both IT and OT. As connectivity increases, these two technical functions will increasingly overlap and blend to optimize effectiveness.
  • 50% will collaborate on product design through crowdsourcing, virtual reality, simulation, virtualization and other interactive tools. Gathering input from suppliers, customers and consumers to make dynamic improvements during product development will increase product success rates and speed time to market.
  • 20% of customer service and field service work will transition to contract workers using augmented reality and mobile devices. Placing “experts for hire” in service and field positions gives manufacturers greater access to talent, while the digital infrastructure gives gig workers the data visibility necessary to complete their tasks.
  • 33% of supply chains will incorporate analytics-driven cognitive technologies. In addition to gathering reams of raw data from multiple sources, supply chain systems will increasingly incorporate cognitive computing, including data mining and analysis and machine learning, to transform massive volumes of data into specific insights and understanding.
  • 80% of supply chain interactions will occur across cloud-based networks. Collaborating with business partners is faster, easier, more transparent and more cost effective over flexible cloud architectures, a critical factor in reducing supply chain disruptions.
  • 25% will implement increasingly demand-driven operations. Pairing data collection and analysis technologies with flexible automated operating processes will give manufacturers the ability to respond in real time to variations in demand, the need for personalization, changes in resource availability and other market variables.
  • 15% will add edge analytics to speed visibility and operational flexibility. Among the many potential benefits of the cloud is the ability to push certain automated analytics and computation out to sensor, switch or other connected device rather than waiting for central collection and analysis. By filtering and interpreting certain data at the network’s “edge,” manufacturers can improve reaction time, reduce storage and capacity requirements, and distribute demand on processing systems.

Obviously, none of these manufacturing trends will become ubiquitous overnight, and many will not come to pass in the forms and functions we expect (predictions are like that), but even incremental changes can lead to radical improvements in manufacturing processes and capabilities. 

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