Throughout the history of manufacturing, there have been many revolutions that have changed how we manufacture. These significant changes started with the industrial revolution, which was the true beginning of manufacturing, followed by optimization through mass production, and finally, the use of information technology.
These have all been incredibly helpful in getting products from concept to market, but it’s not the end of development. A new revolution has captured the attention of businessmen and women from all over the world—smart manufacturing.
This next adaptation that contract manufacturing services use digitizes much of the manufacturing process, which allows the process to be more efficient, improving the quality of the end product while also reducing costs. It’s a win-win no matter what factors are important to you in the manufacturing process, and it’s a major reason why smart manufacturing is becoming more popular.
The following technologies are part of this movement. They can be used separately or in combination with each other to help improve the manufacturing process.
There’s a lot of repetition that happens during the manufacturing process. Inevitably when creating thousands of identical objects, that means thousands of very similar movements. Machines are used to do the heavy lifting for most of these repetitive tasks.
However, machine learning can take it a step farther and recognize repetitions in data much faster than humans. It can even be used for the human side of manufacturing. AI can analyze a factory floor and make recommendations to improve efficiency there so that mistakes are reduced, and efficiency improved.
AR and Virtual Reality
With COVID-19 changing how we do nearly everything, AR and VR have become essential in handling both training and repair in the industry. AR allows a less skilled worker to repair equipment with the help of a freelance 3D virtual reality rendering specialist.
By following the instructions of a professional, guided with AR to help point the way, a less skilled person can manage the repairs without a professional needing to be there physically. VR can also help train new workers both safer and more efficient by allowing them to experience the training process in a realistic virtual simulation rather than on a factory floor.
Another significant change in the industry is additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. 3D printing design services are relatively new to the manufacturing world, but they have already made a huge difference in many different manufacturing processes.
Additive manufacturing has been used in rapid prototyping to help create a real physical product without the need for a run of the product to get a sample to show others.
3D printing has also been used as part of hybrid manufacturing, helping to use the best of 3D printing combined with traditional methods to speed efficiency.
Big Data Analysis
There is so much that goes into the direct digital manufacturing process. It’s not just the creation of the products themselves but also the individual steps that help get it there. Even the best human-led efforts are often filled with errors or can be designed in a more efficient way.
Big data analysis can help with that. AI can analyze the process and look for ways the product can be made more efficient while also giving the people involved a breakdown of the costs involved in manufacturing the product, risk assessments, and how to grow.
This is all beneficial information and can help make a business more successful.
The cloud is only a recent innovation, but it has already become an indispensable part of the manufacturing process. Before the product has even made it to the manufacturer, teams of 3D modeling services frequently use the cloud to work together on a product.
The manufacturers themselves are also using the cloud to help make their manufacturing process more efficient. As an example, Volkswagen has connected its manufacturing plants together through the cloud and use the combined knowledge of these plants to help improve efficiency.
RELATED: What Is a 3D Visualizer?
Different manufacturers have areas where they are stronger and areas where they are weaker. The cloud can help them share their strengths so other manufacturers can optimize using them as an example while also learning from others how to shore up weak points.
This group knowledge can be very useful and will likely continue to develop in new and surprising ways as time goes on.
CNC machining, or “computer numerical control” machining, allows an AI to take digital instructions made by CAM software and create very precise milling, lathing, cutting, and drilling. The ability for precise work like this is needed in manufacturing products such as cell phones, where there is a lot of need for exact and detailed work.
Cell phones have become very popular products over time, with the need for a great many of them to be produced quickly. This means CNC machining freelancers need to be both very fast and as precise as possible to keep up with demand.
CNC is vital for products like these, which can require a surprising amount of milling and drilling. Smart manufacturing can help speed this process up safely, so cell phones can get into as many hands as possible without reducing quality. Thanks to technology like this, Apple can produce as many as 1,000,000 cellphones a day.
Design for Manufacturing
Previous creative processes involved thinking about a problem, creating a solution, and finding a way to make it. With mass manufacturing being the most common endpoint for many different types of manufacturing, many companies are saving a step in the process of designing the product to be manufacturable from the very beginning.
This concept is called DFMA, or “Design for Manufacturing and Assembly.” In this method, a DFMA service will take the product idea and redesign it specifically so that it will be easy to manufacture. This can save a lot of money over time, especially if the product idea can be modified to use dyes already in existence rather than custom ones or limit the amount of wasted material.
Using DFMA to create a design for manufacturing can save a lot of time and money, making it a great solution for those eager to get their products created in the most efficient manner possible.
Most smart manufacturing devices, including the machines and robots used in the product’s physical creation, are part of the IoT. IoT stands for “Industrial Internet of Things,” which can help make the manufacturing process more efficient.
When designing IoT products, sensors are attached to everything, including the physical robots creating the products. They constantly upload data into a connected network that includes every aspect of the manufacturing process. This data can then be analyzed to look for ways to make it more efficient.
IoT can also help reduce costs in a somewhat more indirect manner. If a machine goes down or becomes too hot, it can send out a digital SOS. This request for help can then be sourced to the cause of the problem, helping it be properly repaired.
Another interesting aspect of Manufacturing 4.0 is the “Digital Twin” the IoT can be used for. The digital twin is essentially a virtual copy, down to the smallest detail, of the manufacturing site. This digital twin can be used to show how things used to look at the manufacturing site years back and can be used in a variety of ways.
One of the most practical uses of this copy is to try out different scenarios virtually to see what would happen if conditions in the factory changed. In the past, this would have been impossible due to the sheer amount of data involved with the process, but thanks to smart manufacturing, this is now possible.
By having the freedom to experiment with different scenarios without physically changing anything, plans can be made to handle problems should they arise during manufacturing, or new ways to optimize the process can be experimented with. By experimenting in this way, as much waste as possible can be eliminated, helping to optimize the whole process of manufacturing.
Smart Manufacturing Is the Future
Smart manufacturing can go a long way to improving your business as a whole. It can help make the workplace safer for employees working on the manufacturing floor, help reduce costs for companies getting their products manufactured, and help to reduce overall waste.
Right now, the world is also trending towards sustainability as a key feature in products. Customers actively search for more sustainable products than others, and many businesses are eager to make their products more sustainable.
At Cad Crowd, we stay on top of trends in manufacturing. Our network of manufacturing services is highly capable of designing modern products that’ll impress. For more information, find out how it works.