86% of the top 100 companies in R&D spending worldwide are from the manufacturing industry. So if you aren’t investing in R&D there is a good chance your competition are.

Last year I wrote about the hot tech trends for our industry, so I thought I would share with you what developments have been made in some of the technologies we visited in 2018, along with a look at some new emerging technologies that may have application for your business.

1. Voice Driven Technology

In 2017 the market for voice-recognition technologies was estimated to be worth US$6.19 billion, and this is predicted to increase to $18.30 billion by 2023.

We see voice controlled technology used daily by consumers, with the likes of Siri, Google Home and Amazon’s Echo technologies. In fact voice search is trending towards becoming the leading form of search by consumers. But what about commercial applications?

A recent study by Zebra revealed that 51% of manufacturing companies are planning to expand their use of voice technology within the next five years. As businesses continue to connect production lines and processes with data, the applications for voice driven technologies within the manufacturing industry are endless.

Not time to throw out the keyboard and mouse just let, but with voice driven technology already available as standard with a range of devices, consider how you can harness this low cost highly accessible technology to increase your productivity and accuracy.

2. Autonomous Trucks

I wrote about the advancements being made in autonomous trucks so was interested to research what advancements had taken place over the last 12 months. While we are very much still in trial periods, there are more suppliers and technologies continuing to emerge and increasing interest from industry.

US Postal Service recently launched a test phase for trucks hauling mail across three Southwestern US states. The test contract was awarded to TuSimple, a San Diego self-driving truck startup, with trucks driving a route between Phoenix, Arizona, and Dallas, Texas, through a third state, New Mexico.

Embark Trucks also look to be continuing trials with industry and developing technologies.

The Tesla Semi is also expected to continue pushing in the direction of autonomous transport.

Safety and government regulation remain hot topics in many regions of the world, but there is little doubt these won’t be worked through over time.  

3. Industry 4.0 – 5.0

While most manufacturers struggle to grasp Industry 4.0, some are already looking to what Industry 5.0 will bring.

Industry 4.0 is the bringing together of robots, interconnected devices and fast networks of data within a factory environment, basically to make the factory more productive and to execute the routine tasks that are best done by robots and not best done by humans.

It is predicted that Industry 5.0 will incorporate humans working alongside robots to deliver value-added tasks.

A recent report by Jürgen Maier found the UK’s manufacturing sector could unlock £455 billion over the next decade if it cracks Industry 4.0, with probably 175,000 highly skilled jobs to go along with it.

Our key message here is don’t let these fast-emerging trends get away from you or you may find yourself playing a game of catch up just to stay current and competitive. Stay tuned in to industry news and be aware of what is emerging.

4. Predictive Maintenance

Manufacturing equipment is incredibly costly to maintain both in terms of lost productivity and potential reputation damage. According to Information Technology Intelligence Consulting, 86% of organizations say a single hour of downtime costs over $300,000.

Ensuring that your equipment is functioning correctly therefore remains a key priority for all manufacturers, so, many are looking to predictive maintenance technology.

According to management consulting firm McKinsey & Company widespread adoption of predictive maintenance technologies could reduce companies’ maintenance costs by 20%, reduce unplanned outages by 50% and extend machinery life by years.

Predictive maintenance programs monitor equipment based on the relevant performance metrics. Automating the data collection process through the use of IoT technology, manufacturers can develop a better understanding of how systems work and when they will fail. This leads to the ability to predict when maintenance should be performed. Often, monitoring tests can even be conducted while equipment is in operation.

5. Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing is defined as the process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies.

If you are using Computer Aided Design (CAD), then once the data is digitized, you could quickly and easily port your data over to additive manufacturing equipment to create a prototype or product.

With the rise of metal-like and other materials becoming available, the application is fast growing from printing plastic keyrings with your company logo, to wide spread prototype and production-line manufacturing.

 

That’s a wrap

I have covered just a sample of applicable technologies for the window and door industry. There are many other areas which I would also encourage you to research and monitor for development. Timing is everything and there will be a land rush of new opportunities to get ahead for those who are paying attention and investing in technology.