Pros and Cons of Technology in Manufacturing
Rapid technology developments substantially impact the manufacturing industry. Though manufacturing technology improves production, operations, and processes to make work easier for companies and workers, there are concerns about a machine’s ability to do manufacturing work and deliver precise results.
Although there are pros and cons of automated tech in manufacturing, these advanced technologies have incredible capabilities that can complete nearly any task with ease.
Benefits of Advanced Manufacturing Technology
Technology in manufacturing has many positive outcomes. Automation can:
- Improve quality: Automation controls the schedules and production lines without human interference. The program can optimize the schedule to reduce defects and inefficiencies, creating better-quality products.
- Reduce costs: Technology can operate with better efficiency, less waste, and fewer workers, creating long-term cost savings.
- Decrease production time: Manufacturing technology expedites the production process, so more batches can be made more quickly. You can create more products in less time and have a consistent run rate.
- Optimize the supply chain: The entire supply chain benefits from procurement and production that follows the delivery schedule.
- Have more consistent results: Automated technology is more consistent and eliminates the mistakes error-prone humans are more likely to create.
- Foster a safer workplace: Machines can do jobs that are dangerous for workers, preventing injury and risk. Technology can also identify risks and develop safety measures.
Disadvantages of Manufacturing Technology
Despite the many advantages, companies have some concerns about adding automated tech to their manufacturing facilities, including:
- Lost jobs: Unemployment is a common concern with tech in manufacturing since machines can replace human labor. However, the jobs that automation takes over are generally repetitive and low-value tasks, so employees can instead have critical, high-value jobs.
- Limited creativity: One machine operation setup can limit your production to one task or process, and limited space may prevent innovation and expansion into new areas. For make-to-order departments, the one-use setup saves time and boosts productivity.
- High initial cost: A costly investment is required to purchase and install automated technology in your manufacturing facility. However, automated technology does provide significant cost savings after that.
- Environmental concerns: More technology in your facility means more fuel consumption, especially if your machines have a high output. Manufacturing facilities can take certain measures to minimize the environmental impact while benefiting from automation technology.
- Machine breakdowns: Frequently used machines may have a breakdown, causing decreased productivity and downtime. Automated technology that is regularly inspected and maintained should run optimally and avoid the risk of frequent breakdowns.
What Is The Future of Manufacturing Technology?
Automation, digitization, and human ability have all fueled what some call the fourth industrial revolution. This label brings awareness to how technology and manufacturing work together in the modern age. Assembly lines, while still utilitarian, depend more and more on breakthrough technology systems that have manipulated the shape of the manufacturing process. Two such breakthroughs include artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain.
Now and in the future, you can expect AI to be a crucial asset among manufacturing technology. In 2016, the AI market was priced at $8 billion. By 2024, that value could multiply approximately thirty-seven times to reach over $298 billion. AI has many applications, but two areas you may see it in manufacturing include:
- Lights-out factories: A lights-out factory is comprised entirely of robots building other robots to do demanding physical work. Japan has operated lights-out factories for almost two decades, starting in 2001. Without self-regulated robots, a 40,000-square-foot warehouse would need to employ at least 500 workers. One Chinese lights-out factory picks, packs and transfers packages with just twenty industrial robots.
- Quality assurance measures: Another benefit of artificial intelligence is its capabilities for new means of quality assurance. Computer vision is a technique of using machine learning to identify boxes and scan for defects that are invisible to the human eye. Many industrial factories are implementing this software in different ways to spot imperfections.
Blockchain is a method of record-keeping made up of digital pieces of information and designated blocks. In 2016 the blockchain market was valued at $200 million, and it is projected to evolve to $20 billion by the end of 2024. Blockchain’s popularity has been associated mostly with cryptocurrency, but its uses are pervasive.
Blockchain’s aptness for tracking transactions has made it instrumental in product recall. In recent years, many major companies have equipped blockchain to track shipments. One company was even able to reduce their tracking time from 7 days to 2.2 seconds. Factories have the option to deploy this same technology in the future to ensure satisfactory delivery procedures and enforce safety precautions.
Get the Best in Manufacturing Technology With Summit Steel
Summit Steel & Manufacturing is a leader in precision manufacturing, offering laser cutting, saw cutting, and computer numerical control (CNC) machining. Our company is ISO 9001-2015 certified, and our welders are AWS certified, allowing us to meet regulations and high-quality expectations. Summit Steel is experienced in various industries, meaning we will bring a high level of expertise to every project we accept.
We provide quality fabrication services in Pennsylvania and throughout the East Coast. Contact us for more information or a quote today.