While RFID technology has been in place for upwards of two decades, it has come a long way in the last year. Originally an inventory management tool that also helped reduce merchandise theft, it is currently helping retailers improve customer satisfaction and improve merchandise management and planning.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is creating a big buzz in business these days. This is no surprise given recent statistics: Juniper Research recently estimated that the number of IoT-connected devices will increase to 38.5 billion worldwide in 2020, up by more than 285% from 13.4 billion in 2015. Meanwhile, McKinsey estimates that the IoT could unleash as much as $2.3 trillion in global economic value by 2025.
After Nike recently announced it would start offering customers the ability to make their own sneakers using 3D technology, Under Armour is also raising the bar with manufacturing automation.
Technology is shaking up all types of markets today, obliterating old business models everywhere with newer, more dynamic approaches. In particular, machines have gotten smarter, and can perform high-level analysis and make decisions—processes that used to be exclusive to the human brain. This is a quantum leap in processing, and we’re at a point now where machines are able to think for themselves.
Can the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute deliver on its promise to bring digital innovations to manufacturers large and small?
Automation solutions are increasingly incorporating capabilities to handle the Internet of Things, but manufacturers will likely need to shop separately for many best-of-breed IoT components.
Nearly half of American jobs could be automated in “a decade or two,” according to a recent argument by two researchers in The Economist. The jobs of everyone from telemarketers to title examiners to watch repairers to library technicians have become endangered by advances from the Internet of things, while many of those that have been deemed safe from such disruption are hands-on healthcare-related occupations: mental-health social workers, oral surgeons, prosthetists and recreational therapists. Yet, as this phenomenon unfolds, it underscores areas of opportunity, not only for individuals, but also for companies organized around their skills.
Manufacturing’s history includes three waves of change: the “lean” revolution of the seventies, the outsourcing phenomenon of the nineties and the automation revolution of the current decade. But there is no rest for the weary, as McKinsey consultants are currently warning American manufacturers that they must get ready now for the next big change, which they are calling “Industry 4.0.”
U.S. companies reshoring their operations and foreign firms investing in facilities here brought more than 60,000 manufacturing jobs to the U.S. in 2014, according to a recently released report reby The Reshoring Initiative. That’s up roughly 2% from record levels in 2013 and a fourfold increase since 2003.
Most manufacturers now have automated, Internet-enabled technology on their factory floors. These technologies allow for the collection of data from all types of equipment, and analysis of that data can improve the efficiency and quality of production, as well as quality of the product itself.