The Fourth Dimension of Manufacturing

Change can be a scary thing, but in the manufacturing industry, it’s time to acknowledge that it’s changing for the good.  Manufacturing got its start during the first Industrial Revolution.  This was an exciting time when machines made everything easier.  They produced cotton and wove textiles in a fraction of the time it would have taken to do by hand.  Manufacturers like Henry Ford took advantage of the second Industrial Revolution by incorporating mass production techniques into his factories.  This allowed the factories to quickly and inexpensively bring goods to the public.

Data was key during the third wave of manufacturing.  This data allowed manufacturers to automate production. Assembly lines had less human workforce due to new information technology, computerized systems, and other advances.  This all happened while providing goods and services faster and more cost effectively.

We are now entering the fourth phase of manufacturing which is nothing short of amazing.  It uses cyber-physical systems to bring goods to customers with more precision than ever before.

Goods Mass Produced in a Customer-Centric Fashion

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the only way to make goods for sale was to make them by hand. Cobblers got to know the bunions, bumps, and arches of the feet of their customers; shoes were hand tooled. After the Industrial Revolution, shoes were mass-produced. They fit most feet, and that was acceptable.

Today’s cyber-physical systems marry technology back to personalization to enhance the customer experience. With new advances in computer technology such as 3D printing and cloud computing, it’s not unrealistic to imagine that the factories of tomorrow will receive inputs from shoe stores on main street and custom-mill shoes to fit your feet. They’re mass produced forms customized to fit.

Shoes are a good example, because no two feet are the same. But such marriage of technology to customer needs can occur in business-to-business sectors too. Imagine a world in which plastic is formed into bumpers for cars not based on mass orders (“Give us 50 bumpers by Friday”) but custom orders (“We need 6 for sports cars, 13 for SUVs, and 31 for sedans.”)

Predictive Analytics, the Wave of the Future

We’re not quite at the point in which custom orders can be made so precisely. Although manufacturers may soon have the technology to custom-produce shoes, clothes, automobile bumpers, or lenses for microscopes, it’s much more common to produce mass runs of goods than custom runs.

Enter predictive analytics, the wave of the future for manufacturers. With predictive analytics, computer systems learn from the inputs they receive. They can scan orders, for example, and find patterns to predict future ordering trends. Manufacturers can then use data to produce a close match between supply and demand.

Big Changes are Headed Our Way In Manufacturing

In the 1980’s computers changed the face of manufacturing.  We went from mass production to technology-based production.  The systems of today are slowly turning manufacturers away from technology and into the world of artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, and custom orders.  Some say we have gone full circle, but maybe we are just moving ahead.  No matter how you look at it, it’s a new and exciting time for manufacturing.  Now is the time to consider upgrading to new technology.  Data is the key to predictive analytics and the more data you have, the further your company can grow.

Choose Mindover for Manufacturing Data Needs

If you are looking for expert insights into making your data work for you, Mindover Software can help. Our products such as Acumatica and Sage 300 are helping many types of businesses use data to help grow their business. We can recommend the best software solutions to fit your manufacturing needs and to help you achieve your goals. Contact us today.

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