Welcome to our second blog post on manufacturing. We’ve covered the history of manufacturing and now we’d like to give you the latest information on emerging trends in the manufacturing world.
Autodesk offer tools that can help you design, create and revolutionise the way you manufacture and we can help you adopt this technology, with industry best practices and education on evolving trends. Today, we want to focus on the last point. We employ experts in the manufacturing industry so we caught up with them to get their professional opinion on the new trends in manufacturing. Here they are:
1. Machine Learning
Machine learning is where computers learn patterns and how things work without being programmed by a human. This is a massive step forward for manufacturing as it will reduce human error and improve efficiency.
Autodesk are an example of a company using this new trend for manufacturing with a product called Autodesk A360, which has something called Design Graph embedded in it. In order to organise design information and people’s ideas and creations, Design Graph is a machine learning system that uses algorithms to get large volumes of 3D design data. The system then categorises the data to create an organised collection of thousands of designs that can be retrieved almost instantly.
Through machine learning, there’s no need for humans to label designs, which takes time and allows for errors. Instead Design Graph automatically categorises designs based on consistent shapes and structures. So, a designer or engineer just simply searches for the file they want.
Here’s what Mike Haley, Sr. Director of Machine Intelligence at Autodesk says about Design Graph and machine learning:
“We created Design Graph to enable designers to focus more on solving design problems rather than the mechanics of representing their design…Design Graph can save valuable time, eliminate redundant work and reduce costly errors.”
2. Internet of Things
Trend number two is the Internet of things (IoT). This term refers to a number of different products all being connected to the internet so that they can send and receive data between them and communicate with each other.
This is a huge trend for manufacturing as it connects different devices and ultimately makes products work more efficiently. The car manufacturers Tesla are an example of a company that’s making use of the IoT to benefit their customers and save themselves time and money.
Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told Tesla that they will need to recall almost 30,000 vehicles because the charger plug was a fire risk. Rather than Tesla having to contact the owners of the 30,000 cars and ask them to bring each vehicle in to be fixed, frustrating customers and taking up mechanics’ time, all Tesla had to do was complete the fix via a software update. This is nothing new for Tesla, last year they changed the suspension settings all via a software update.
The IoT is not limited to car fixes and improvements, this capability will soon be a vital part of manufacturing and a natural element of any new product we buy – an exciting prospect!
3. Customisation and smaller job runs
In a world where consumers can get pretty much any product they desire, the demand for customised, tailored products suited to an individual, rather than the mass, is increasing. To answer this demand, manufacturers need to look at how they accept customised orders from the market.
Helen van der Schyff, Head of Product Design and Digital Manufacturing Technology at Baker Baynes, believes that this want for customisation will mean “the removal of mass production and tailoring production lines to cater for smaller runs or one-off productions to satisfy demand.”
An example of a company pioneering this new trend is ATS 2000, a South African business that manufactures one-off products for their clients that service the mining industry. They prioritise innovative product design and technology, precision and customer-orientated service.
Another example of a company that is tailoring its product design to each customer’s spec is Techmach. Techmach manufacture process plants for the animal feed industry and pride themselves on the fact that no two plants are the same.
4. Industry 4.0
First, we had the invention of machines to manufacture. This evolved to the ability to mass produce products. Then, computers came along and automation and robotics replaced the need for humans to work in all factories. Now, we have Industry 4.0.
Industry 4.0 is the convergence of all the latest tech, like robotics and machine learning, to remove the need for any humans in production. This has created ‘smart factories’ where cyber-physical systems monitor physical processes, create a virtual copy of the physical world and make decentralised decisions.
Recently, the managing director here at Baker Baynes, Richard Smedley-Williams, attended the Manufacturing Indaba, hosted by the city of Ekurhuleni, as a panellist on the Industry 4.0 session. He found that for South Africa to become successful and to take advantage of Industry 4.0, we require improvements in three main areas:
- Repurposed education for innovation
- Increased technology adoption
- Repurposed processes to increase competitive advantage
We’re confident that Baker Baynes can contribute to carrying out these improvements.
We hope these emerging trends have been insightful. If you’d like more information on how Baker Baynes can help you adopt the technology that will fulfil these trends then please get in touch – we’d be happy to help.