Technology and its impacts are so great in business that it’s not an easy job to separate and identify them, especially in manufacturing, where everything is so closely knit together as one seamless process. Even then, the following few stand out as the most prominent, recent examples.
Robotics has changed the manufacturing business in the most direct way possible. Not only has the introduction of automated contraptions improved productivity, but it has also lowered and in some cases, completely eliminated some of the inherent risks of a manufacturing plant. For example, a Douglas Machine robotic palletizer can palletize as many as forty heavy cases every minute in single/multiple in/out configurations, which would be physically impossible for human workers to achieve. The complex robotic arm eliminates the risks of employees injuring themselves on the job while trying to palletize the heavy merchandize but increases the productivity of the plant in the process.
Data Accumulation, Interpretation and Improvisation
Data collection and interpretation is not just important but essential in almost all fields of business today, and manufacturing being one of the core elements of any business, it has experienced some of the most profound changes due to that. The following points highlight the more notable impacts of data collection and interpretation on the manufacturing process.
- Detection of errors in any and all sections of the process
- Detection of problem areas or reasons for delayed/slow production rate
- Further improvement of production rate by identification and subsequent boosting of the strongest and weakest sections of the process
- Analysis of market data to recognize and guide the manufacturing process towards the profitable direction
Internet of Things (IoT)
In an ideal manufacturing unit, all the mechanical and robotic parts work in perfect harmony with each other today, without operators having to guide each little process individually and manually; this is what IoT has done for manufacturing. IoT has created an interconnected system where every machine can work simultaneously and in sync with each other in a production plant because they become part of a single system, operated centrally.
The Impact of Technology on the Workforce
It was earlier believed and feared that machines would replace human beings, thereby, creating a shortage of jobs. Fortunately, that has not been the situation so far and the advancement of technology has actually created new jobs, while boosting the demand for skilled and trained labor. The impact of technology and the need to operate complex machinery has also improved the knowledge, understanding and paychecks of the manufacturing workforce. It cannot be denied that the need for pure manual labor has been significantly decreased, but it’s also the reason why workplace accidents have also come down drastically in manufacturing plants over the last few years. Machines have taken up most of the dangerous aspects of the job, but humans are still needed to operate, monitor, and maintain those machines, not to mention, handling the finer aspects of the process which needs the human touch.
Manufacturing, just like all the other sections of business has already been changed immensely with the advent of science, but the future promises much more, especially as we begin to see the fruits of machine learning in the coming decade.