4 Trends Impacting the Electronics Manufacturing Industry
The manufacturing industry as a whole tends to go through revolutions, and we are currently at the precipice of the fourth major change in the way industry works. “The industrial revolution we’re experiencing now, commonly referred to as Industry 4.0, is powered by advancements that include smart manufacturing, robotics, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT),” explains the World Economic Forum. “In addition to prompting manufacturers to invest $267 billion in the IoT by 2020, Industry 4.0 is revolutionizing manufacturing.”
This hints at big things for the electronics manufacturing industry. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest trends impacting the electronics manufacturing industry and what it all means.
Internet of Things
IoT is changing everything from the number of connected devices in the home to the way electronics factories work. Not only does IoT make it possible to collect data on a myriad of things, but it makes gathering that data practically effortless. Already, three out of ten manufacturers use connected technologies, with more adopting it every day as the importance of data collection, management and analysis becomes apparent.
Data is also seeing a makeover in this new industrial revolution, and it is integrating into the electronics manufacturing process in real time. Advancements like cloud computing and sensors that adjust manufacturing settings based on temperature, humidity or demand are increasingly common, but those are just a few examples of data integration in action.
The information also flows from machine to machine and from there to a central control system. In this way, production can halt automatically when the system detects an issue, and maintenance can become predictive. This automation reduces waste costs and helps ensure the proper manufacturing of electronics. In turn, production quality will improve and open the way for predictive analytics.
Many of these advancements in analysis stem from virtual reality (VR) and machine learning technologies. For instance, VR makes it possible to digitally render a prototype pre-production and analyze the design for any flaws. Virtual reality enables you to process large banks of data more easily as well. Some types of analysis used to take weeks to process. Now you can run the numbers and get a graphical interpretation of that information, all within minutes.
Virtual reality also helps people receive information when they need it most. Some manufacturers are experimenting with wearable augmented reality devices that allow users to see important data as they interact with real objects. Being able to see that real-time information could help keep the wearer safe, and help him or her make more informed decisions on the production floor. VR also makes guided repair a possibility.
Then, there are the robots. According to the World Economic Forum, the robotics industry will hit $67 billion by 2025 – and no wonder. Robotics can produce major gains in efficiency. When manufacturing processes are fully automated and controlled through robotics, they are often more accurate and more productive than when the process is left to people alone.
Further, robotics can operate in conditions that may not be comfortable or safe for humans. Temperature, location and the way materials are handled doesn’t matter to machines. Finally, robotics are enabling people to move away from more tedious jobs and toward different roles that require advanced training. It is a win-win for everyone.
Industry 4.0 is causing some big shifts in the electronics manufacturing industry – and that’s a good thing. While production as you know it could become virtually unrecognizable in a few years, issues relating to low efficiency, manufacturing injuries and production waste might also become virtually extinct.