It’s hardly up for debate why digital scholars coin the era in which we’re living as a “technology Renaissance”: not only has the availability of technology increased sevenfold, but its reach has diversified as well. Simply put, digitalization is now relevant to the business model of every industry.
The prediction has been made that by 2020, more than half of Global 2000 companies will see their business revenues depend on whether or not they are able to offer digital products, services, and experiences to consumers. In today’s manufacturing industry, the desire to be successful should be equated with enthusiasm about staying modern.
Embracing digitalization in manufacturing involves identifying the unique solutions that these services bring to a company. Here are some of the top digitalization trends to watch out for in manufacturing:
1. Aftermarket service revenue.
A unique quality about having digital data for your manufactured product is that it allows for your company to continue to offer solutions after the business transaction is completed. In the era of digitalization, not only can a consumer rely on a company to supply them with a product or service, but also to enhance their use of it after the purchase is made. Aftermarket service is now seen as beneficial on both ends: for businesses to increase their service quality and profits, and for customers to add to perceived benefits.
A staple of aftermarket service in the manufacturing industry is monitoring systems. Products and services can now be linked to mobile apps that report on the item’s performance to both its user and supplier. If a business monitors its product after it has been sold to a customer, they can ensure that the product is working properly, be the first to identify potential problems, and raise their level of customer service.
A good example of this is within the solar industry; how distributors and installers are monitoring the performance of their customers’ systems after the panels are placed on the roof. Customers then feel like they are receiving a product and a service simultaneously, and companies boost their reputation. Creating an app that is specific to your business and aftermarket service is a great way to differentiate from competitors.
2. Machine learning and artificial intelligence.
In 1997, the world watched as an IBM computer dubbed “Deep Blue” beat out one of the world’s most skilled players at a chess game. It can be argued that business technology has attempted to follow this trend ever since, beating humans at their own game. AI now acts as a complement to human capabilities in manufacturing, suggesting solutions that some manufacturers never would have thought of otherwise.
An example of these amazing technologies being used in production is monitoring conditions that need to be set, such as temperature and pressure. Machines can now analyze the data of which set conditions work best to manufacture certain products, eliminating the concern of human error and ensuring product quality.
The union of efficiency and quality was something that had been historically difficult for humans to achieve in manufacturing before digitalization. Other areas of manufacturing that can be improved by machine learning and artificial intelligence include preventative maintenance of machinery, less system failures, and more on-time deliveries and finished products.
3. Concerns about cybersecurity.
After the massive documentation of cyber data breaches like Equifax and WannaCry, there seems to be a greater understanding of just how serious threats to an online presence can be. The truth is, as the number of Internet-connected devices continues to increase, the number of data breaches will continue to increase as well. “Cyber criminals are becoming more industrialized and more organized,” said Derk Fischer, a cyber security specialist, in the wake of the WannaCry attack.
Therefore, a top digitalization trend has become investing in cybersecurity to act as a good defense for potential attacks. At the most basic level, your hardware should be equipped with an anti-malware program to detect any suspicious activity. Some manufacturing companies, since they do not specialize in cyber security, sponsor workshops for their employees on cyber safety practices specific to devices they use. The most prepared businesses hire outside teams to analyze and monitor their systems.
Though digitalization does add to the vulnerability of your manufacturing business, a number of factors increase along with it: efficiency, communications and user experience, to name a few. Though business owners continue to fear the effects of online security breaches, most have come to the understanding that the perceived benefits of going digital are far greater than the risks. For more cybersecurity tips for manufacturers specifically, check out this blog post.
4. Smart products and services.
In general, interactive products and services enhance user experience, which is on the rise in manufacturing right now. Having a manufactured product in a digitized era goes beyond simply making a business transaction: the most successful manufacturing companies will invest in technologies that monitor their services, make production recommendations and help to visualize concepts.
Under the umbrella term of “smart products and services” includes augmented reality. This hit the mainstream thanks to implementation from a few internationally-recognized companies, like the Ikea Place App, where customers can virtually put furniture in their home. Manufacturers can use augmented reality to conceptualize changes to their production processes, while customers can also do the same to visualize how they would use the finished product to their advantage.
Digitalization, though it has already had such a profound effect on the way we live our lives, is still only in its growing phase. Especially within the manufacturing industry, where digital trends are not traditionally associated with the day-to-day business of manufacturers, the opportunities for the way individual companies could evolve are limitless. As such a new trend, manufacturing companies that are open to implementing augmented reality and mobile applications to supplement their product will establish a competitive edge over others.
What are some other trends to watch out for in the manufacturing industry? Tweet us @AppleRubber