New Tech Boosts Small Scale Manufacturers

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Small Scale Manufacturers

What is the future for small-scale manufacturers?

The rise of cheap foreign competition has seen many large manufacturers move their operations offshore – a trend that has opened the field for many small-scale manufacturing firms. For these companies, staying competitive depends much more on their ability to excel in automation, cutting-edge innovation, productivity and specialised or personalised products.

Not surprisingly, many of the latest IT technologies are helping to drive the success of these small and micro manufacturers. Here’s a look at some of the biggest innovations.

Internet of things (IoT) and analytics

The IoT uses the power of the web to make the connected factory possible – linking machines, robots, sensors and people together for highly granular data collection, monitoring, processing and analysis. For small manufacturers, it can bring new levels of efficiency and control that empower them to thrive in competitive markets.

A perfect example is microbreweries. Catering to highly discerning customers, they require constant oversight and a single mistake can derail an entire batch. Adding IoT devices and sensors allows second-by-second monitoring for temperature, flow and other crucial functions. When advanced data analytics is added, the brewer can fine-tune the process and achieve the perfect beverage.

The sheer number of possible applications of the IoT also makes it fertile ground for high-tech small manufacturing startups – whether it’s smart water meters that help households reduce consumption or IoT sensors that scan local wireless traffic for security threats.

3D printing

Cheaper equipment and better printing materials have made 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, explode in popularity among small and micro manufacturers. One benefit is that it allows rapid prototyping, so products can be tested and commercialized much more quickly – a boon for small firms that lack big R&D budgets.

Its main draw is its endless applications – from customized tools and furniture to bio-printing human tissue and even entire homes. Cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) is set to make on-demand 3D printing even more accessible. Imagine a future where customers can upload a design of their choosing to a 3D printing service and have the product delivered to their door within hours by drone or driverless courier.

Augmented reality

Advances in computer vision, engineering and IT software have enabled manufacturers to deliver real-time information and guidance at any connected location. Augmented reality (AR) allows text, audio, video and other virtual enhancements to be superimposed on goggles (such as the Microsoft HoloLens), tablets or other equipment as workers perform tasks on the factory floor.

For small manufacturers, the productivity benefits can be compelling: hands-free training, faster maintenance, inventory tracking, improved safety and real-time views of manufacturing operations.

Like 3D printing, AR can also greatly streamline design concepting and prototyping, which traditionally requires lots of revisions and back-and-forth communications between stakeholders. For example, AR can be used to create a ‘digital clone’ of a product while it’s being developed, enabling engineers to make much better predictions about how it will perform in the real world.

For small and micro manufacturers, the future has never looked brighter. With the help of a new wave of intelligent networks, machines and automation software, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is already upon our doorstep.

If you need assistance updating your business technology or security give EnhancedTECH a call at 714-970-9330 or contact us at [email protected]

Samantha Keller

Director of Marketing and PR at EnhancedTECH
Samantha Keller (AKA Sam) is a published author, tech-blogger, event-planner and mother of three fabulous humans. Samantha has worked in the IT field for the last fifteen years, intertwining a freelance writing career along with technology sales, events and marketing. She began working for EnhancedTECH ten years ago after earning her Bachelor’s degree from UCLA and attending Fuller Seminary. She is a lover of kickboxing, extra-strong coffee, and Wolfpack football.Her regular blog columns feature upcoming tech trends, cybersecurity tips, and practical solutions geared towards enhancing your business through technology.
Samantha Keller

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