The Race to Digitize Manufacturing


Digital manufacturing is automation on a much larger scale. Digitizing manufacturing requires automating nearly every process in the industry. Production worldwide is already embracing digital work, moving from mass to customized industry. Major players throughout the world are already well-immersed in this trend. China is hoping to become an advanced manufacturing power by 2025. Germany first used the term Industry 4.0 for bringing together industry and technology. Japan is working toward government-regulated industry, and South Korea is ensuring industry standards benefit national suppliers. The United Kingdom will make 25 centers focused on creating new technology for production, and the U.S. is putting forward technology to focus on small manufacturers.

The industry giants of the world are focusing on digital manufacturing for an excellent reason.

How Does Digital Manufacturing Work?

Digital manufacturing covers everything from hardware to software. The evolution involves quickly delivering the right products at an acceptable price to the target demographic. Robots are often used in automation. For example, assembly lines use robots to do basic or menial tasks while employees focus on more complicated work. When artificial intelligence is added, robots can memorize and learn new processes. A machine can even make a decision based on the information available. 3-D printing is also becoming more commonly used to build items cheaply. 3-D printing can cheaply and quickly make machine parts, prosthetics and figures. The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a vast amount of data constantly growing. The data is used to judge what people need now and want in the future. Using the IoT in industry results in more accurate projects directed toward target consumers.

Why Is Digital Manufacturing Important?

The age of digital automation is only just beginning and manufacturers need to make sure they have what it takes to survive. Just like many revolutions of the past, global competition is a driving force for technology to blend with industry. Large trading countries are also starting to automate industrial work, which will lead to better products at lower prices. The internet allows consumers to buy from anywhere on the globe, not to mention the lower cost of exporting and importing goods.

The current progress of industry is stagnant. According to the labor report author, Stephen Ezell, the United States’ productivity grew 1 percent in five years, the slowest rate since 1948. A revolution in manufacturing of any kind is needed to progress. Adding modern technology into production is the cheapest and fastest solution.

Where Will Digital Manufacturing Take Us?

The best result of adding more automation is faster production. From concept to sales, quick output means cheaper costs for the company and consumer. The products can also be customized according to consumer needs. Safety is a priority for workers and sales. Fewer workers doing menial or potentially dangerous tasks is significantly reduced. The company also lowers the risk of losing money by creating many different products at once for showcasing and test sales. Using 3-D printing for cheaper goods can also improve a design. Printing parts can reduce components, complexity and overall weight of the final product. The new parts are also easily and cheaply repaired if damaged. Design constraints such as time and money can be a thing of the past.

The Modern Revolution

Industry is always transforming with advances in technology. The more money automation makes, the more advanced systems become available. Manufacturing must fight to keep up. Progress is an endless circle that will hopefully continue for a long time. For now, automation and digital manufacturing will be the work of future generations. We’re only just getting started in this exciting venture.

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