The UK manufacturing industry is one of the biggest in the world. But how will new technologies transform this industry entirely?
February 5, 2018
Ranking as the ninth largest industrial country in the world, it’s safe to say manufacturing in the UK is huge. With 45 percent of UK exports coming from the manufacturing industry, combined with the 2.7 million people the sector directly employs, manufacturing is of huge significance to the economy.
As technology is entering every sector to improve the efficiency, speed and safety of their processes, the manufacturing industry is no different. In fact, technology is expected to transform the industry entirely. From 3D printing to wearable devices and smart sensors, it is crucial these technologies are embraced by manufacturing companies looking to lead the industry to the future. The benefits of these technologies cannot be ignored, with estimates already made that automation and robotics save an average of 16 percent of labor costs in industrialised nations, with South Korea seeing a staggering 33 percent of cost savings!
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When we think of wearable technology, what often comes to mind is the FitBit and GoPro. But this technology can do more than monitor our health and take pictures, as it is predicted that by 2018 130 million wearable devices will be shipped.
A great benefit of wearable technology in the manufacturing industry will be the safety and efficiency improvements it will make. Employees will work in better monitored environments with wearable technology that can track their fatigue levels for example, helping to reduce the risk of accidents, In addition, wearable technology will be able to better track the speed at which employees are working at, which will enable managers to detect any inefficiencies in the system.
Manufacturing warehouses and plants are often very large and busy, and it can be difficult for managers to keep on top of what is going on across the board. Wearable technology will make this easier for managers, as they will be able to better monitor their employees location, allowing them faster access to what is going on on the ground. For example if a machine is broken, this information will be quickly communicated using wearable technology.
One of the biggest challenges manufacturing companies will face in adopting wearable technology in manufacturing facilities is ensuring they are not a distraction when employees are working.
3D printing has been around for a number of years, however it is not until very recently that this technology has skyrocketed, rapidly making its way into a number of industries. A survey by PwC in 2014 shows that only 11% of over 100 manufacturing companies were creating 3D printing parts and products. This expansion of the 3D printing market will have transformed by 2019, as it is expected to grow to a whopping $20.2 billion.
Why has the market got so much bigger now? The reason is simply due to the falling prices of 3D printing, which no longer means this technology is reserved for the larger enterprises, as smaller businesses will be able to invest too and improve their manufacturing processes. The ability of smaller manufacturers to adopt 3D printing is critical in keeping up with the industry, as this technology will significantly reduce the months needed to design and assemble products.
This emerging widespread adoption of 3D printing will soon see the rise of virtual inventories that will see their current size reduce dramatically. This will be a physical sign of how far this technology is set to revolutionise the manufacturing industry. Companies will be able to make what they need, when and where they need it.
Fraud Detection Technologies
Manufacturing is one of the most highly affected industries by fraud. Ranking third compared to other sectors, manufacturing loses an average monetary loss of $194,000. Not to mention the loss of employee trust and confidence.
With the most advanced technologies these high levels of fraud are expected to reduce, as large amounts of accurate data will become better available, meaning fraud will be more easily detected. This technology will derive from Deep Neural Networks (DNNs), which will be able to identify unusual behaviour and ultimately fraud in financial transactions through the collection of data.
Smart sensors are set to have an immense impact on manufacturing, with 25 billion of these technologies expected to be adopted in the industry by 2020. Smart sensors enable machinery information in manufacturing facilities to be interconnected through intelligent networks. This will create more transparency across manufacturing processes, allowing managers to look at overall procedures and detect areas that need improvement.
In addition, smart sensors will have enough information and data it will be able to predict things such as equipment failure, whilst also being able to automatically flag up any anomalies taking place in a process. The speed of this detection will save companies time and money, whilst also improving their safety levels.
These technologies alone are set to to have an immense impact on manufacturing, and combined they are set to revolutionise the industry entirely. With many big companies already implementing some of the technologies above, and reaping the benefits, this will continue to become more mainstream, filtering into the smaller companies too. Eventually, these technological advancements should see the manufacturing industry change completely, but just what will it look like it just a handful of years?
Vero Solutions provide advanced location technologies to enable the tracking of people, assets and inventories, with the aim of helping customers improve the efficiency, safety and costs of their procedures.