Between the Internet of Things (IoT), information-driven manufacturing (iDM), social robots and Internet 5.0, you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s enough happening in your own world without worrying about other industries. But being aware of parallel industry developments as they’re happening can keep you ahead of the curve and help you anticipate new solutions to improve efficiencies and add value.
Here are 3 trends manufacturers need to keep an eye on:
- Rapid prototyping + crowdfunding
Rapid prototyping using 3D printers isn’t new (we’ve already talked about how it will impact manufacturers here). But the plummeting cost and increasing range of printable materials means more designers have access to printers and can innovate faster than ever before. Add to that complementary services, such as autonomous testing that can evaluate prototypes much quicker than traditional methods, and it’s easy to see why some manufacturers might start feeling left behind.
But what happens when you combine rapid prototyping with crowdfunding? Crowdfunding is a game-changer for businesses in any industry. Innovative companies are using crowdfunding as a way to finance their ideas, cutting out the frustration of finding willing professional investors and venture capitalists. Tapping into the crowd works so well that billions of dollars have funded projects over just the past five years.
No longer limited to novelty consumer goods, crowdfunding can raise money and awareness for unlimited scope of ideas, from music to beehives and even a new Australia Day campaign. Even big brands such as Nike are using crowdfunding to generate brand buzz and customer loyalty.
Used together, rapid prototyping and crowdfunding allow almost anyone to bring solutions to market quicker than many organisations can develop counter measures. This is the very definition of disruptive innovation. (Check out this blog on disruptive innovations rocking supply chains and our wrap-up of the PKN + Food & Drink Business LIVE Disruptive Innovation Industry Forum.)
- Cradle-to-grave traceability
Traceability has been a business imperative for many years now (you can learn all about it here). Each time a recall event hits the headlines, manufacturers in every industry are reminded of the critical need for end-to-end traceability to mitigate the risks to consumers and businesses. Stories of proliferating counterfeit markets only serve to intensify this need – the counterfeit medicine market internationally is worth some US$32 billion and causes some one million deaths each year. Traceability can counteract this. (For more information on counterfeiting, see “Is your brand being sold in other markets – and you don’t even know?” and how wine makers can beat the counterfeiters.)
The good news is, as the technology that facilitates end-to-end traceability gets more advanced, the potential is greater for seamless cradle-to-grave transparency in real-time. With integrated coding, serialisation and track and trace solutions across the entire supply chain, manufacturers can actively protect their brand and build consumer trust. (You can find out more about these traceability solutions: product labelling & coding, fully compliant shipper coding & labelling and fully compliant pallet labels that scan every time.)
- Beyond the Industrial Internet of Things
No sooner has the Industrial Internet Of Things (IIoT) arrived than it already starts evolving. A new technology beginning to play a major part in the Internet of Things (IoT) is blockchain – the peer-to-peer distributed ledger technology behind cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Blockchain works by maintaining a continuously growing list of cryptographically secured data records hardened against tampering and revision. By enhancing security, blockchain can help establish trust, accountability and transparency while streamlining business processes.
The application of this emerging technology for IIoT shows great promise – especially with its potential to overcome the concerns many manufacturers have around data security. For example, blockchain technology can optimise supply chains by tracking objects as they travel through the export/import supply chain, enabling secure traceability of certifications and other salient information.
Another evolution of IIoT is machine learning. Falling under the wider umbrella of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning refers to the design and construction of computer applications or systems that are able to learn based on their data inputs and/or outputs. Essentially, a machine learning system learns by experience, and uses this to then perform actions after new or unforeseen events.
Add natural language processing to machine learning and you have a whole new opportunity: cognitive learning systems. This technology enables people and machines to interact more naturally to extend and magnify human expertise and cognition.
The potential for manufacturers who tap into this technology is huge: it offers real-time and predictive optimisation, mass customisations and even new business models.
In this short video, Lindy Hughson from PKN and I talk a bit more about the three trends manufacturers need to watch.
No business exists in a bubble. Understanding the landscape and changes happening around you is essential today, but even more critical is planning for it. What trends are you watching?
Check out Matthews’ vast resource library. It has a host of detailed information that’s all free to download! There are whitepapers, presentations we’ve done to industry bodies, infographics for manufacturing, case studies, articles from our thought leaders, vids showing solutions in action and more!
Image credit / Delpixart