Manufacturing Technology in Business – how important is it?
The importance of technology in business world affairs continues to grow as the technology itself evolves. Global circumstances force individuals and corporations into increasing reliance on machines and digital platforms in the conduct of daily life. The coronavirus pandemic is a case in point.
Even under “normal” conditions, technological infrastructure exerts an influence on the culture, efficiency, and relationships of a business — both internally and externally. Technology also affects the security of intellectual property and confidential information
Global Considerations for Manufacturing Technology in Business
For businesses in all industries, there are some common factors of science and technology importance. These include:
One of the greatest aspects of the importance of modern technology is its effect on the ability of organizations to communicate internally and with customers and supply chain partners. Digital technologies like web sites, chat, and messaging allows customers to find answers to their questions about a product or service at all hours and interact directly with brands. Integrating communications technology with logistics and fulfillment systems enables organizations to take advantage of fast shipment options for quickly moving products to their intended destinations — even over a large geographical area.
Manufacturing Technology in Business: Improving Operational Efficiency
Another aspect of the importance of technology in business is its capacity to streamline operations, resulting in cost reductions, better quality control, and improved efficiency. For example, warehouse inventory technologies enable organizations to understand product or component movement patterns and how best to manage the storage costs of holding a particular item.
Proper implementation of physical and cybersecurity technologies enables businesses to protect their physical or financial assets and intellectual property. Technology may be used to protect financial data, customer and transaction information, business plans, and other proprietary information that leads to competitive advantages.
Manufacturing Technology in Business: Expanding Scope for Research and Development
The internet provides both a repository of valuable information and access to a worldwide pool of research and development talent for businesses. Software platforms and technological tools provide the means to enable organizations to put these skills and knowledge to use in developing new products, techniques, and methods of service delivery.
The Importance of Technology for Manufacturing
As we’ve seen from its more general implications, the ability to effectively compete, keep operations running efficiently, and deliver greater value to consumers are central to the importance of technology for manufacturers. Any manufacturer who fails to capitalize on these benefits of technology runs the risk of losing out to their competitors — or even losing out entirely, due to the collapse of their business.
Beyond this, a number of specific factors related to manufacturing contribute to the importance of Manufacturing Technology in Business today.
Manufacturing Technology in Business: The Need to Differentiate from the Competition
Many of the manufacturing technologies of “Industry 4.0” or the Fourth Industrial Revolution at first were inaccessible to smaller organizations, requiring levels of investment that could only be taken on by large manufacturers. However, while these large manufacturers may have been the early adopters of new technology, they often invested in technology they didn’t need or ultimately didn’t suit their business, resulting in losses.
Those technologies that proved viable and valuable over time also came down in price, giving small and medium-sized manufacturers the ability to pick and choose the technologies most suitable for their businesses, based on others’ experiences. Acquiring these proven and cost-effective technologies enable organizations to improve their value proposition to consumers and differentiate their unique product or service from their rivals.
Improving Customer Experience and Loyalty
Appropriate use of technology improves the customer experience by helping manufacturers improve their processes and communicate better with consumers. Customer-facing technologies like chatbots and web portals can enhance the customer service experience and streamline the fulfillment process.
Internally, organizations may use data analytics to better understand customer profiles and consumer behavior, enabling them to gain a deeper insight into their needs and adopt a more customer-centric approach to product delivery. Additive manufacturing technologies may be used to produce small batches of a customized product for specific customers. This leads to a more enjoyable experience for consumers, which in turn nurtures loyalty to the brand.
Manufacturing Technology in Business: Process Optimization
Industry 4.0 gives manufacturers a range of technologies that may be exploited in streamlining production processes and optimizing the organization’s work as a whole.
For example, robotic process automation (RPA) and systems powered by artificial intelligence can improve productivity and quality control while relieving employees from routine and time-consuming tasks. This frees human resources to work on projects of greater value to the business.
Technologies like IoT (Internet of Things) enable data gathering from a wide range of manufacturing endpoints to enable real-time reporting and improved decision-making, while blockchain and machine learning systems enable manufacturers to develop more secure and transparent supply chains, which often incorporate automation.
Advances in manufacturing technology are producing innovative work environments, with the prospect of exciting careers in existing and emerging fields. Technology is also playing a role in recruiting the new generation of manufacturing employees who will be charged with working in these environments.
For example, YouTube has been instrumental in recruiting new talent through videos featuring virtual facility tours highlighting new technologies. Organizations can also use social media platforms to directly engage with prospects in an environment that’s familiar to them and on which they spend much of their time online.
A Global Reach
Manufacturers can use the internet to expand their reach to international markets and create new revenue streams. Studying online data may reveal new opportunities based on the needs and interests expressed by international consumers.
The Technology Underlying Everything
If you were to ask what the most important technology affecting business is, the answer would have to be data — or big data, to be more specific. Structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data from many sources is the fuel powering many of the new technologies that are revolutionizing the manufacturing industry and other sectors.
Artificial intelligence (AI) powered by big data optimizes processes in real-time throughout the manufacturing landscape. AI and machine learning are used in advanced robotics, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), smart vehicles, speech recognition, the simulation of products using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and in monitoring conditions in practically any setting.
In the development of new materials for manufacturing and production, huge quantities of data must be gathered and analyzed to determine the material properties and establish the ideal conditions under which the material may be deployed. Here too, advanced modeling and simulation techniques using augmented reality and/or virtual reality can come into play.
The Industrial Internet of Things or IIoT is enabling the development of smart factories, in conjunction with big data analytics and systems incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning technology. Connected machines, computers, robotics, and sensors are facilitating plant floor automation and the cyber-physical monitoring of product location and the various stages in manufacturing and production.
With new manufacturing technologies generating ever-larger amounts of data to analyze, there’s a need for HPC or high-performance computing. HPC technologies are being used to uncover new, innovative ways of approaching predictive analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), digital design, and simulation.