Once upon a time, human-free factory floors could only be found in science fiction novels. Now they’re a reality. As more and more businesses turn to automated manufacturing equipment to boost productivity and reduce lead time, the question now is—what’s next?
Obviously, we can’t tell exactly what will happen in the future. But based on the incredible technological advancements being made every year —as well as lessons from the past — we can make some pretty good guesses about what to expect from the latest industrial revolution.
1. More Problem-Solving Machines
Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence that uses algorithms to learn from experience and make course-correcting adjustments. And with major advancements in AI algorithms happening with breakneck regularity, we expect machine learning to only get better at increasing productivity and reducing lead time.
From monitoring production output with pinpoint accuracy to using predictive modeling that lets you anticipate maintenance issues before they cause downtime, machine learning is set to give an even sharper edge to automation equipment manufacturing.
2. Smaller Businesses Getting a Piece of the Pie
The word “robot” alone makes automation sound pricey. But just as the price of flat-screen televisions eventually fell into affordable territory for average families, industrial automation equipment is also getting less expensive.
The progressive decline in robot integration costs will make automated equipment manufacturing more accessible to smaller businesses, which haven’t yet been able to reap the full benefits of automation the same way larger enterprises have.
3. Way More Custom Automation Solutions
One-size-fits-all equipment is great at producing large volumes of the same basic product. But custom automation equipment will be the ultimate game-changer for manufacturers who have more complex products on their assembly lines.
When it comes to certain products, volume isn’t as important as precision. And as artificial intelligence and automation technologies improve, custom equipment solutions will only get better at meeting the most precise product specifications.
4. Increased Public Attention
Some people in manufacturing are justifiably nervous that robots will someday take their jobs. As manufacturing automation continues to replace human hands, we can expect to see more studies and estimates about the effects of industrial automation on job insecurity.
Some politicians have already made headlines talking about job displacement caused by fully automated manufacturing, so we shouldn’t be surprised if it becomes an even hotter topic in the near future.
5. More Discussions About How to Repurpose the Workforce
New technologies have always resulted in some workers being forced to shift skill sets. The trick is to get ahead of it so that the transition causes as little social and economic harm as possible.
A report by Oxford Economics is just one example of how experts are already planning ways to keep workers in the manufacturing sector relevant if they’re displaced by robot integration. Businesses that have plans to automate their manufacturing floors should keep their ear to the ground and listen for possible solutions on how to responsibly help their workforce make the transition.
6. A Greener Outlook
We already know that automation has the potential to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly than the traditional methods of manufacturing. Greater precision on the assembly line will mean less material waste caused by error, while even more insightful algorithms will allow for more economical use of power and resources.
Plus, electronic industrial automated equipment produces less CO2 than heavy-duty manual equipment, which could make manufacturing automation a key player in the global effort to reduce harmful emissions.
Equip your manufacturing business for the future
Curious to see how manufacturing automation equipment is transforming factory floors in your industry? Contact Summit Engineered Automation for a free consultation.