Automation is an enormous industry, and many exciting advancements are pushing it forward.
One of the leaders in this arena has always been manufacturing. Manufacturers have often been early adopters of new tech. They often push the boundaries of technology too.
Do you want to know where automation trends are heading and what kind of cool tech is on the horizon? Then look to the manufacturing industry. Here’s some of the up-and-coming automation technology manufacturers are adopting right now.
Revisiting Wearables for Industry
Wearable tech has a mixed reputation. On the one hand, it may seem far-fetched and futuristic. On the other, it may seem silly, like the Google Glass or VR headsets.
Manufacturing is leading the way here. They’re re-envisioning what wearables can do in the workplace.
Right now, the focus is on devices like smart watches. These devices can detect environmental risks.
They can also alert employees to fatigue or other medical issues. That can help keep people safer on the floor.
It’s not a stretch to imagine that wearables may make it easier to improve employee productivity. This could be as simple as signaling that it’s time for a break.
It could also extend to some cool tech that automatically syncs with other tools. Wearables might someday help employees calculate the perfect cut or weld.
Additive Manufacturing Is on the Rise
Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is transforming the world of manufacturing. Some people have predicted 3D printers will eventually change the entire production chain. People will buy blueprints and print objects at home.
Right now, manufacturers have adopted 3D printing to streamline their production processes.
Prototyping is one area of use. Designers can use the printer to create prototypes almost instantly. This reduces the cost and time it takes to prototype.
This has allowed for designers to improve designs faster, as well as testing more designs.
Additive manufacturing has also paved the way for more automation and customization. You no longer need to manufacture enormous batches of product. You also don’t have to store them all the warehouse.
Instead, you can print products when the customer orders them. You can adjust the design for each order.
This has made it possible for manufacturers like HP to create customized parts for clients.
Automated assembly is the next big thing in additive manufacturing. This will allow manufacturers to assemble products made of many parts and materials. Right now, metal and plastic parts have to be printed as separate pieces, then put together.
Automated assembly will handle that second part. The automotive industry is already moving toward automated assembly.
The advancements here will help manufacturers create more complex parts as well. Metals can be printed into plastics, and surface treatments are also available.
Eventually, it may be possible to build-in conductors or motors in plastic parts.
Nanomanufacturing Tech Thinks Big
Nanotech has recently been gaining steam, both in manufacturing and other industries. This technology manufactures materials on a molecular level.
This cool tech could help automate the production of high-efficiency solar cells. It could also help make better batteries. Since it works on a molecular level, it can improve the efficiency and quality of the materials in use.
Nanotechnology has uses beyond the factory floor though. One popular area is healthcare. Nanotechnology could place sensors in the human body and watch for signs of disease.
In that sense, it could become an excellent way of automating early detection and testing.
Other uses for nanotechnology will no doubt continue to be developed.
Robots Get More Sophisticated
Manufacturing has long used robotics to help automate tasks. Today, those robots are getting more sophisticated. They’re also getting smarter.
Grasping technology is one example of a breakthrough in this area. As it continues to improve, manufacturers will be able to automate more tasks.
Today’s machines are also equipped with better sensors, processors, and more. Coupled with AI, these features can help machines better adapt to their surroundings. In turn, they can continue to work optimally in even the most challenging of environments.
Robots are also becoming more collaborative. These devices, called cobots, help foster human-robot activities. The robot works alongside skilled operators to improve efficiency and productivity.
This allows manufacturers to automate one process at a time. It also allows them to keep talented employees. These team members’ knowledge is key for business continuity.
Control Systems Make Business Smarter
Finally, there’s the higher level control systems that keep everything running smoothly. As the experts at Revere note, the right control system can do just about anything. You can manage furnace temperatures in a foundry or automate product tracking systems.
The data collected from these systems is also useful to manufacturers. If you want to add AI, then the data collected by a control system can help. With it, AI-enabled machines begin to learn optimal processes and specifications.
You can also factor the data into your business decisions. A good control system may also help save money. It also increases productivity and output.
Other systems may be used for monitoring maintenance and more.
Control systems may be specialized for industry. Despite that, they have the widest application outside of manufacturing. In fact, you can think of smart home features like lights and thermostats as types of control systems.
Control systems used in manufacturing and other industries are usually more sophisticated. That said, they show where automation could go in the future.
Stay on Top of Automation Trends
Every year, automation technology sees some amazing breakthroughs. Cool automation tech is often seen first in industries like manufacturing, as these examples show. If you want to know where automation is heading in 2021 and beyond, keep an eye on industry.
Wondering what other automation tech is used in business, healthcare, and beyond? We have tons of articles on the latest automation breakthroughs, trends, and even the latest tech. Stay up to date with the tech world by checking in with us often.