The Future of Industry: Embracing Technological Innovations
The industrial sector is on the brink of a significant transformation, driven by technological developments. The critical question arises: will this new wave of technological advancements lead to fundamental improvements, or is the sector too distant from the change it requires? This article explores the key trends and technological developments shaping the future of the industry and their transformative potential.
The future industry won’t be confined to physical facilities or machines. It will expand as new technologies are implemented across the supply chain, transforming it from a linear model to an interconnected ecosystem. This evolution requires looking beyond the factory walls, connecting manufacturing processes with the external world.
Connectivity, integration, and converging technologies will enable manufacturers to meet the growing demand for small orders of complex and customized products. This shift demands not just enhanced collaboration between operational technology, industrial automation, and information technology but also a mindset change, fostering trust in both technology and collaborative processes.
Smart as the New Normal
The convergence of physical and cyber systems with external networks will make the smart factory a reality. The true progress and power for the industry lie in creating, improving, and exchanging real-time information across the value chain. Cognitive technologies like machine learning, computer vision, voice recognition, data analytics, and AI will drive this development, working together to create a network of machines and technologies that use information to optimize processes and operations.
Production machinery and equipment will no longer need to follow explicitly programmed instructions. Exposed in real-time to information from the value chain, these networks can optimize themselves, enhance processes, and reorganize production based on supply chain demands.
Key to this transformation is information gathering. Smart sensors will monitor specific processes throughout the facility, and intelligent robots will continuously manage material handling, adjusting production as needed. Dynamic production will become a reality as smart equipment allows for different production configurations for small orders, minimizing downtime for retooling and programming factory equipment.
Merging Worlds: Reactive to Predictive
The industry will shift from a reactive to a predictive approach. Traditionally, information on complex and critical systems in production has been obtained through manual inspection. However, advanced technologies will lead to digital representations of machines, processes, and products. By connecting physical assets to the digital world and creating identical digital representations, organizations can design, test, build, and offer future products before they are manufactured.
The virtual world will become the definitive playground for future products and services. Manufacturing flexibility will be pushed to the limit as fabrication requirements and processes can first be tested virtually. By the time factories produce goods, everything will operate according to desired conditions. Virtual representations will also be used for real-time self-diagnosis for maintenance needs.
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