The never-ending pursuit of higher levels of efficiency in manufacturing is leading to major advancements in production facilities all around the world. Expect to see further automation in manufacturing operations, more analytics, higher product quality and cleaner production floors. These trends are being driven by globalization, enhanced competition and rapidly advancing computer and robotic technology.

Versatile Robotics

Human and robot collaboration, energy efficiency and higher uptime for robotics are all trends expected to increase in 2016. Not only that, but new robotics capable of handling multiple production tasks are also expected to be implemented, ultimately enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of operations while minimizing production cycle times. The impact of more versatile robotics yields benefits that go beyond the manufacturing facility. Robotics can free-up human capital and other resources that companies can reallocate to activities such as research and development, customer service and process excellence.

Robotics are also opening up the opportunity for skilled technicians and engineers to work in production facilities, or in companies that support the manufacturing industry. The shift in labor demand from low-skilled workers to highly trained specialists is expected to further transform the labor market in the U.S. and other countries. This trend is expected to correlate in the demand for labor with computer information and programing skills, given the role of computers in the operation of production equipment and robots.

Better Analytics

Computer technology and real time reporting of production metrics are expected to increase, giving operational managers better information to make decisions. The net result of this enhanced reporting capability being less waste, lower labor and raw materials costs, fewer production defects and lower sales returns. Whether it is tracking maintenance costs and adjusting production to maximize uptime, or whether it is optimizing the supply chain through on-time delivery of raw materials, better analytics are transforming the way that production managers operate their facilities.

Higher Product Quality

Given the intense competition in the global marketplace, product quality is critical for retaining or even expanding market share. Quality assurance tools such as quality management systems, lean and six sigma are being used to eliminate waste and make manufacturers more competitive. This trend is expected to continue in the future. Whether it’s production facilities in China or the U.S., operations managers are leveraging their employees to improve quality while minimize operating costs.

Cleaner Production Facilities

When thinking about manufacturing operations, some may conjure images of crowded warehouses full of workers with low paying jobs. This image no longer fits most modern production facilities, because manufacturers are enhancing their standards related to organization and efficiency. In the future, you can expect to see companies implementing quality assurance concepts, such as 5S, to drive efficiency in the workplace.

These concepts call for using a systematic approach to eliminate waste through cleanliness and organization. In addition to greater efficiency and less waste or hazards within production facilities, cleaner shops are important for maintaining or even improving employee morale. That is why improving manufacturing décor and layouts is a priority for shop managers. This trend is expected to grow in countries not just in the western world, but also in countries with developing economies such as China and India.

Manufacturing is a process that continues to evolve, rising to meet the demands of consumers, employees and shareholders alike. Trends in this sector are heading towards higher levels of automation and profitability, leveraging robotics and quality assurance initiatives to maxamize shareholder wealth.

Craftech utilizes robotics in its injection molding plant for efficient part removal – improving part quality and reducing lead times.

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