These trends play a major role in 2021 and beyond.
Here to stay (at home)
The pandemic has triggered a culture change by forcing companies to allow remote work during shutdowns. Through digital technologies, manufacturing has discovered some of the benefits of remote working and increased flexibility.
Remote-controlled vehicles in industrial environments are one form of teleoperations. For example, a driver working from home can remotely control a forklift equipped with cameras and sensors.
A helping robotic hand
Besides the installation of robots, the most important growth area will be collaborative robots, so-called cobots. They are small and can be used safely alongside human workers. Many companies in the metalworking as well as automotive sectors are turning to this technology. At Ford, for example, cobots are used in the installation of shock absorbers to free up human workers for strategic tasks.
SMEs are driving this trend, as cobots can be deployed in small factories and require less initial investment.
Smart learning about your suppliers
Companies that use digital technologies in their supply chain management have best weathered the uncertainties of global value chains over the past year.
The use of machine learning algorithms and their use in predictive maintenance is steadily increasing. For example, it can improve inventory management as well as cash flow when supplier behaviour is analysed based on past behaviour using this technology.
Let’s get personal
There has been an increase in the importance of individualization on both the demand and the supply side.
Customers want a higher degree of personalization.
To better understand this demand, products-as-a-service business models and big data analytics are enabling manufacturers to take a closer look at this customer behaviour.
There are many technological innovations on the supply side that are helping agile manufacturers become more customized.
5G rolls out and rolls on
The introduction of 5G brings with it a lot of potential and enables manufacturers to make the transition to Industry 4.0 as well as the Industrial Internet of Things. With a speed one hundred times faster than 4G, 5G is not only a trend but also a significant enabler for many technological innovations. It will fundamentally impact manufacturing in the next decade.
For example, with the facilitated use of augmented reality (AR), field technicians can perform preventive maintenance in factories. It would mean a loss of productivity of several hours to download the right AR model without 5G. It can also save several on-site technicians if the problem can be solved remotely.
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