Looking Ahead at Top Manufacturing Tech in 2022
Manufacturing is firmly entrenched in the digital age, and each new year takes it closer to Industry 4.0. As we look at 2022, there is no shortage of emerging and expanding technology on the horizon. These innovations have moved beyond buzzwords to become real assets across several industry sectors.
The top manufacturing trends primed to revolutionize manufacturing and production in the coming years include:
- 5G. As technology improves so does the need for quicker and more secure connectivity between manufacturing systems. The latest 5G technology offers quick and reliable connectivity which is paramount for devices connected to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). While 5G is already rolling out across the country, 2022 will see significant expansion of critical networks into core manufacturing regions.
- Edge computing. Edge computing puts manufacturers closer to their data, and data closer to the systems that use it, making it easier to gather and analyze information. Enabled by 5G, edge computing is the framework that makes real-time condition monitoring possible, and it’s growing the scope of manufacturing automation.
- Digital twins. Through the combination of AI and the IIoT, manufacturers can create digital twins that show supply chains, equipment maintenance data, and factory floor setups. Digital twins can be used for everything from asset lifecycle maintenance to preventive maintenance scheduling, real-time condition monitoring, and much more.
- Additive manufacturing. By offering an easy way to convert a concept into a final product, additive manufacturing can completely transform supply chains and manufacturing workflows for the better. Since 3D printing comes with fewer production costs than standard fabrication, manufacturers can use additive manufacturing to create and test more intricate designs normally too expensive to prototype.
- Intelligent automation. By reducing human involvement in certain manufacturing tasks, intelligent automation has the potential to reduce, or even eliminate, human error. Innovations in automation, including robotic technology and control systems, allow manufacturers to protect worker safety and improve production efficiency. Manufacturers can use automation for a variety of tasks, and the list of capabilities continues to grow.
- Immersive tech. Immersive technologies, including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), offer an efficient way for factory workers to improve their skills and gain a better understanding of equipment. With AR, training operators can use 3D models of machines to guide workers through proper repair and maintenance techniques. Manufacturers can use VR to simulate equipment problems for training purposes.
- Wearables. Wearable devices used in manufacturing include headsets, smartwatches, and smart bands. These devices help protect worker safety and improve productivity by constantly monitoring factory floor data. Some wearable devices even raise alarms should a safety issue occur.
- Cybersecurity. With manufacturers incorporating so much new technology, cybersecurity is paramount. Cyberattacks have elevated over the last year with cybercriminals using ransomware to hold data hostage. In addition to taking money and intellectual property (IP), cybercriminals can shut down entire operations. Manufacturers must invest in the best cybersecurity protection.
Industry is primed for innovation in 2022
This list is only a fraction of the available technology and innovation sweeping the manufacturing sector. The IIoT continues to be a tour de force of possibilities, and each new investment in a digital manufacturing ecosystem expands manufacturing capabilities. 2022 promises to be an intriguing year for manufacturing innovation.