Smart Factory Trends that will be Witnessed in 2022 and Beyond

The manufacturing industry is likely to endure some major trends in the upcoming year 2022. If it leverages perfectly, it can provoke digital innovation, and aid businesses stay competitive in the ever-changing market. 

Throughout the pandemic, the manufacturing sector confronted many challenges like shortage of human resources, skill gaps, supply chain concerns, etc. Even though the global health crisis impelled the development of the manufacturing industry to a great extent, it created a demand for finished products. 

Thus, the manufacturing industry is now adapting and introducing technologies for the minimum resource wastage and maximum gains by developing superior products. 

There have been different technological innovations that introduced and become a part of Smart Manufacturing. It contains specifically computerized and self-adapting systems and equipment to enhance the overall performance and flexibility. 

This is a brief guide to key Smart factory (Virtual Manufacturing) trends to watch out for in 2022, and how they can be used to create value with the right technologies. 

2022 Smart Manufacturing Trends that get Noticed

1. 3D and 4D Printing 

3D printing technology, also known as Additive Manufacturing (AM), gets the spotlight as it has the potential for high-impact implementation in apps ranging from personal tools to aerospace equipment. Additive manufacturing is seen as a revolutionary tool for its ability to create lighter, stronger parts, and systems.  

3D printing integrates various components and procedures needed for manufacturing. It has a huge impact on the worldwide supply chain, mitigating complexities, saving manufacturing time, improving lead times, and enhancing time-to-market. 

4D printing is defined as 3D printing that is revolutionizing over time. The improvement of 4D printing over 3D printing technology is that through automated folding, bigger objects than printers can be printed as only one part. As the 4D printed objects can shrink, unfold, as well as modify their shape, the larger objects that can not fit a printer can be compacted for 3D printing.   

  • Users can fabricate objects 
  • Boost the abilities of the printed products 
  • Enhance manufacturing efficiency 
  • Mitigate production cost 
  • Assist with size enhancement 

2. 5G 

5G technology is proven as a game-changer for industry manufacturers. Manufacturers generally use wired or wireless technology for their daily activities, but reliability and scalability are significant issues.

The power of 5G telecommunication technology can play an important role for the whole manufacturing value chain and provide key benefits such as,

  • High reliability and security as the higher data rates up to 10 GBPS are better than Wi-Fi or any cellular wireless system. It delivers value for mission-critical manufacturing applications.  
  • 5G removes the need for wired connectivity and allows a high-speed manufacturing environment with better flexibility and low latency. 
  • 5G technology boosts IoT ability by connecting more sensors and devices and leads to immensely connected factories. 

5G and Industry 4.0 transforming the manufacturing sector with autonomous methods using computer vision, data analytics, ML, and AI. Manufacturers can leverage, 

  • Connected Asset Tracking
  • Connected Storehouses
  • Predictive Maintenance
  • Logistics and Fleet Management
  • Quality Control  

3. AI and ML 

Complex AI algorithms and ML are creating reliable forecasting regarding the assets and machinery status. Predictive maintenance can now be a significant solution that saves enormous amounts of money. 

Generative design is an approach that aids with improved product development by putting briefs generated by humans into AI algorithms. The brief detail includes various parameters such as available production resources, budget, and time. The algorithm assesses all feasible variations and creates some ideal solutions which can be examined by pre-trained deep learning models. 

AI solutions leverage HD cameras to track the deficiencies a lot better than a human can. It can be merged with a Cloud-based data processing framework that responds automatically. Manufacturers can also get the data on their product performance that help them to take quick and improved strategic decisions in the future.  

AI and ML are already an important facet of Industry 4.0. It can also enhance supply chains by making them highly interactive to a variation on the market in advance. So management can enhance their strategic vision by being dependent on AI recommendations. Estimates are made by AI connecting different factors such as political circumstances, weather, customer behavior, economic status, etc. Workers, inventories, and material supplies can be measured based on prediction. 

4. IoT (Internet of Things)

IoT is making individuals’ lives and workings Smarter than ever before. Industrial IoT (IIoT) is a system of internally linked industrial assets such as machinery, inventory, vehicles, warehouses, equipment, shop floors, etc., with built-in software and embedded sensors to gather and exchange information. Manufacturers can manage such smart assets via a single IoT platform and get helpful insights.  

Industrial IoT technologies boost productivity, mitigate downtime, and make working conditions highly safe for workers, thus offering a competitive edge for enterprises. IIoT helps with,

  • Remote production management 
  • Predictive Maintenance
  • Industrial asset management
  • Digital twins 
  • Better decision making
  • Quicker time-to-market
  • Cost efficiency
  • Enhanced safety
  • Superior customer satisfaction 

The potential of Industrial IoT is tremendous and can not be ignored. Connected devices incorporated employees, amenities, inventories, and databases into comprehensive networks that can enhance management at all stages of manufacturing. 

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5. Hyper Automation 

Hyper automation is all about expanding the business processes automation by implementing AI, ML, and Robotic Process Automation. Almost any repetitive activity can be automated, and it is even feasible to discover which processes can be automated and build robots to execute those activities. It additionally automates already automated processes to take business operations beyond single input. 

In simple words, hyper-automation leverages technologically advanced tools and combines them to revolutionize work. Benefits of hyper-automation include,

  • Automated processes
  • Foster team collaboration
  • Increase work automation 
  • Augments ROI
  • Enhanced data accessibility and storage 
  • Improved employee engagement and satisfaction 
  • Boost business agility 
  • Modern analytics and insights 
  • Enhance productivity 

With the right tools and technology, hyper-automation can amplify business operations and increase sustainability along with delivering improved outcomes and better returns.  

6. Data Analytics & Big Data 

The quantity of data generated by IoT and modern manufacturing systems must be rendered into actionable ideas. That’s why Big Data classifies the collected data and outlines relevant conclusions that aid to enhance organizational operations. 

Because of sensors and portable devices, organizations can enhance operational efficiency by determining human faults and errors, conducting quality control, and displaying ideal production. 

Big data determine variables that can impact the performance as well as guide manufacturers in discovering the issues. 

More precise and considerable prediction is possible with the activity visualization through internal assessment (customer preferences) and external assessment (trends and external events) over historical data. It enables the organizations to change/optimize their product portfolio. 

Data helps sensors discover potential breakdowns in the machinery operations before it turns into a big failure, by determining faults in patterns. The system sends an alert to the equipment that helps to react on time before any collapse. 

7. Robots 

Robots have been gradually utilized in the manufacturing sector for decades. Industrial robots are recognized for their enormous speed and accuracy in performing repetitive tasks with very less or no human actions. 

As this trend will consistently boost accuracy and productivity in the manufacturing sector, manufacturers will use advanced robots such as Cobots (collaborative robots) and AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles), and AMRs (autonomous mobile robots) to boost agility and built-in quality.

These robots work with humans as well as enable individuals to emphasize creative and innovative activities to get competitiveness. That is the reason intelligent robots will be highly utilized in manufacturing, which is an exciting trend to observe. Additionally, using more robots will raise the possibilities to work remotely, which itself is a trend to be pursued in 2022.

8. Cloud-Native Platforms (CNPs)

Cloud-native technologies encourage enterprises to develop and run scalable apps in cutting-edge, dynamic environments like public, private, and hybrid clouds. Containers, microservices, service meshes, declarative APIs, and immutable infrastructure represent this technique which is about speed and agility.

Blended with robust automation, they enable engineers to make powerful modifications often and predictably with little effort. 

To actually provide digital proficiency anywhere and everywhere, organizations must leverage Cloud-Native Platforms. CNPs use the core commands of cloud computing to deliver scalable, robust, and flexible IT-related abilities to technology generators using internet technologies. It provides faster time to value and mitigate expenditures.  

Summing Up  

Despite the labor shortage and supply chain concerns due to the global health crisis seeming to make it to the beginning of 2022, the manufacturing industry will continue implementing technology to keep pace with the digital world.

The wide adoption of digital technologies in the Smart factory seems like a revolution, rather than an industry disruption.

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