Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and Big Data shape the future of manufacturing
Advances such as 3D printing, virtual design technology, artificial intelligence and more integrated communication between actors in the production chain are creating new opportunities. In this paradigm, engineers, scientists, designers and all other players in the manufacturing sector can do things they could only dream of ten years ago. The result is a brave new manufacturing world. Despite all the talk about new opportunities, there is a disadvantage. As logistics and traditional manufacturing patterns disappear, there is still uncertainty about what the industrial future might look like.
According to a recent report from the World Economic Forum, machinery will perform a significant portion of manufacturing work by 2025, eliminating some 75 million jobs. On the other hand, the new AI-based relationship between human labor and machinery will create 133 million additional jobs, according to the report. The report also predicts that the labor market will change as freelance and part-time work becomes more important. The new opportunities that will come will benefit those who are able to exploit the new technology. The new technological reality will disrupt our education system itself. In fact, it will have to do it because the workforce is not prepared for the new reality, as a leading academic in the field supports it.
Establishing a link between Technology and Business
A fundamental change in manufacturing today is a shift in focus from the product itself to its application. The industry is struggling with the advent of the experience economy, where consumers are less interested in owning something and more interested in the experience they are getting or the result they are getting. The technology itself is not the important thing for companies. The goal is to achieve business goals: automation, for example, can be used to improve productivity or quality or reduce costs.
Augmented Reality – A game changer in the manufacturing industry
One of the biggest advances in manufacturing is Augmented Reality (AR), in which a computer superimposes information – images, data or other – on the user’s field of vision. A technician wearing smart glasses looking at a turbine, for example, will see useful information about this turbine on the machine itself. This can bring huge benefits in terms of training and security.
Workers can use anti-reflective glasses to learn how to properly assemble the equipment: the glasses superimpose the instructions directly on the gear, possibly specifying the lines and arrows in which the components are to be installed. As a result, employees will learn faster, reducing the time and money needed for training. Using the RO to transmit instructions for using the equipment to workers at their stations will also improve workplace safety. Augmented reality is really a revolution, said Laurent Champaney, President of the National School of Arts and Crafts, a French engineering school. This revolution implies a new way of communicating which concerns everyone at all levels of the company. It can also lead to complex problems, he added.
The uncertainty surrounding Big Data
New communication technologies are also enabling manufacturers to create value by sharing information with their business partners, Champaney said. But again, how best to exploit this big data remains a question. In this era of media piracy and worry about who does what with our online data, security will be a major problem for the manufacturing sector. The data is ubiquitous, but their protection is a major problem for businesses, Champaney said. With the sheer rise in the number of data breaches, companies are looking to strengthen their cybersecurity measures and policies in order to prevent any hacks that can potentially result in the loss of considerable revenue. As we have witnessed in the past few years itself, companies that have been victims of data breaches have noticed a decline in sales, popularity, and trust on the part of both consumers and investors.