Manufacturing changed drastically in the 20th century—namely, in the way it interfaces with technology. The use of technology for new manufacturing processes became so prevalent that it birthed an entirely new industry, known as “advanced manufacturing.” The core concept of advanced manufacturing is applying the latest technology; it is the union of production and innovation, and has transformed manufacturing spaces from traditional factories into dynamic, evolving environments.
Advanced manufacturing touches so many different industries that it’s somewhat difficult to define what’s driving things forward. At the next advanced manufacturing conference, what advanced manufacturing technology should you be looking for? That’s what this article will focus on, as well as how cross-sector innovation will yield new possibilities for manufacturing in 2023. Let’s get building!
What Are the Emerging Technologies in the Manufacturing Industry?
Manufacturing employs a lot of new technologies, including AI, blockchain, and more. But interestingly enough, the “newest” technologies in manufacturing are not always new. Many originated in other industries, intended to solve completely different issues. Here are just a few technologies to look out for in advanced manufacturing, along with the innovations they empower:
- 3D Printing | An additive manufacturing process, 3D printing uses mechanical layering of plastic to build a wide variety of products. This method was first developed for dental implants and medical prosthetics, but is now used to make new materials, architectural models, and even food!
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) | A front-and-center development across many industries, AI has found many applications in the manufacturing world. For example, visual inspection tools programmed with AI can quickly detect defects in production lines, enabling a more consistent manufacturing process. AI can also improve maintenance, failure detection and product consistency.
- Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) | What started as a tool to train military pilots has since become a leading force in manufacturing innovation. Some manufacturing uses for AR and VR align with its original purpose; it’s often used to create simulations for training workers. But it’s also a tool for conducting maintenance, designing new production processes, and more.
- Blockchain | A means of storing digital data in the nodes of a peer-to-peer network, blockchain decentralizes data and provides additional network security. Originally developed for uses such as cryptocurrency, decentralized finance, and NFTs, blockchain can track building materials and all relevant information around them, resulting in a more transparent manufacturing process.
- The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) | This concept is manufacturing’s application of the Internet of Things (IoT): physical objects fitted with sensors that all contribute data to a shared network. By using these highly-connected sensors alongside 5G technology, manufacturers get a better understanding of machine performance and can more easily monitor automated factories.
How Have New Developments in Technology Changed the Advanced Manufacturing Sector?
The impact of technology on the manufacturing industry is so immense that it’s hard to define everything advanced manufacturing entails today. Perhaps it’s better to use a non-definition once offered by Tom White of the Missouri Enterprise:
“Advanced manufacturing, by its very nature, defies definition, because it is going to be different for the chemical industry than it is for the metal fabrication industry and any other industry.”
As the quote suggests, there are infinite possibilities for the future of technology interfacing with production. Advanced manufacturing has the opportunity to augment not just its own industry, but all other industries. Here are just some of the ways technology has changed the advanced manufacturing industry:
- 3D Printing makes it far easier to fashion personalized products for unique customers or use cases.
- Artificial intelligence opens up a world of possibilities for improved performance, reliable automation, and overall more efficient manufacturing.
- Augmented reality and virtual reality create training scenarios that are safer, more cost-effective, and easier to improve upon over time.
- Blockchain provides a more comprehensive network of security for manufacturing processes and makes it simpler to gather data on all inputs for any process.
- The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) empowers communication between different types of devices, meaning that every part of a manufacturing process can synchronize with one another.
We are only beginning to see the impact that technology will have on advanced manufacturing. This is an exciting time not only for the industry, but everyone who relies on manufacturing—which is all of humanity. As more technology develops and cross-collaboration continues, manufacturing processes will improve across every industry. And because of this, we will enjoy better products, safer factories, cheaper prices, and more efficient production processes.
What Are the New Trends in Advanced Manufacturing Technology?
The manufacturing industry trends of today—such as AI, blockchain, and augmented reality—all point to a few universal goals for manufacturing in the future:
- Increased communication
- More efficient production
- Better security and data collection
- Improved performance
- More personalized solutions
There are two noteworthy things about these trends. Firstly, just about every industry can benefit from them—these goals are not unique to manufacturing. But secondly (and more interestingly), just about all of the improvements in advanced manufacturing came from using software innovations.
Advanced manufacturing is all about using the latest and greatest in technology, and much of that comes from collaboration with the software industry—and in ways not originally imagined. The developers of blockchain were likely not thinking their technology would be used to track manufacturing materials. Conversely, factory managers probably didn’t plan on using virtual reality to train their staff. But both of these things are a reality today, thanks to two very different industries working together.
With that in mind, what is the future of the manufacturing industry? It lies in collaboration—getting multiple industries together in a space where they can ideate, explore, and share. When collaboration spreads across experts in multiple fields, everyone is exposed to entirely new ways of thinking, working, and operating. In turn, this will inspire brand-new concepts that each industry can take back to their colleagues.
Working with like-minded people is great, but it can only get you so far. And that is the driving principle behind cross-sector conferences like the Rally. At Rally, advanced manufacturing comes together with software, sports tech, healthcare, and several other industries to brainstorm, workshop, and talk about what trends are affecting their industries—all of which brings forth new possibilities for everyone involved.
Find the Future of Manufacturing Technology at Rally
Those who want to stay on top will innovate, and those who want to innovate will look outside their industry for inspiration. The Rally Innovation Conference provides that opportunity for multiple fields, including advanced manufacturing; here, experts share ideas, entrepreneurs meet investors, and the brightest minds come together to shine even brighter.
If you’re interested in seeing the power of cross-sector collaboration firsthand, register for the upcoming Rally conference before the spots are all gone!