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Essential Tech: Investing in 2024 Manufacturing

Essential Tech: Investing in 2024 Manufacturing

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The manufacturing sector has faced a wide range of challenges in the past few years, from COVID-19 disrupting supply chains to scarcity of fuel and other raw materials as a result of conflicts in Ukraine and around the world.

In spite of this, the outlook is still bright. Predictions show the worldwide manufacturing sector will be worth £747.1bn by 2030.

Part of this growth is attributable to the increasing uptake of smart manufacturing technologies, like Internet of Things (IoT) integration, but this is not a new phenomenon. In fact, 75% of large manufacturers had already implemented IoT technology in their factories before the pandemic.

So, what are the latest technological developments supporting manufacturing companies? The manufacturing support specialists at Anglo Scottish Asset Finance take a look at the new technological trends your manufacturing business should be investing in for 2024.

Digital twins

The call for better data and more in-depth analytics was one cause of the smart manufacturing revolution. Digital twins – a digital reproduction of a physical object, person or process – are becoming increasingly popular amongst larger-scale manufacturers.

As our ability to simulate and predict events via machine learning increases, our ability to model more complex processes is becoming increasingly reliable – and so is the data provided by a digital twin.

There is a myriad of potential applications for modern digital twinning. Manufacturers might use digital twinning to reproduce their entire factory process in order to judge procedural efficiency. They can also reproduce a single machine and harness real-time performance updates to stay ahead of any potential machinery issues.

For smaller companies, a comprehensive digital twin strategy might be prohibitively expensive, but it’s undoubtedly something to be aware of. Costs will inevitably begin to fall as uptake increases across the industry and the end-to-end insight provided by a digital twin is invaluable.

Workplace wearables

As augmented reality (AR) capabilities improve, workplace wearables become more viable. Startup companies, like Tended in the UK and Motion Miners in Germany, are behind the wearable tech used on the factory floor.

There are a number of benefits that come with using wearable tech. Tended’s approach augments your factory’s safety procedures, tracking the team’s movements to detect trips, falls or impacts. The technology also provides a panic alarm for use in an emergency.

Meanwhile, Motion Miners’ technology optimises worker activity. The technology analyses your team’s ergonomics to reduce the manual strain on their bodies. The analytics provided by this tech can help increase workplace efficiency and improve your team’s working conditions.

Sustainable supply chain management

Digital supply chain management is not a new phenomenon, but new technologies are allowing greater interrogation of your supply chain processes from both an efficiency and environmental standpoint.

Manufacturing businesses with integrated supply chains can open a whole range of new doors by using the latest technologies. Tech-driven solutions like Zeus are helping companies increase fleet efficiency and reduce administrative hours.

Zeus has helped its clients operate more sustainably, helping them to reduce carbon emissions from shipping by 84%. In the increasingly climate-conscious marketplace, such green initiatives can be a competitive advantage. Given the vast amount of power required for industry-scale manufacturing, businesses must show that they’re investing in solutions that limit their carbon footprint in order to retain popularity.

Operational technology cybersecurity

Given the increase in uptake of smart manufacturing technologies, more companies than ever should be investing in their cybersecurity practices. A sturdy operational technology (OT) cybersecurity framework is vital to limit the risk of data breaches and productivity loss.

Too often, manufacturing businesses overlook security measures surrounding their Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technologies or machinery that utilises IoT. In many cases, these technologies can act as an entry port for cybercriminals to access more business-critical IT functions.

Cybercriminals can hold sensitive data or essential information for ransom, resulting in a loss of private access for manufacturing companies. This can be hugely damaging to operational capability and reputation. Only 35% of manufacturers say they have a single, comprehensive view of OT vulnerabilities – so if your business is not protected in this way, you should consider it a necessary investment for 2024.

Generative AI

In today’s smart factory, artificial intelligence (AI) is already present. More often than not, however, it’s predictive forms of AI that are being used to interrogate internal processes. Generative AI – which has the capability of generating imagery, text, audio or data – is also becoming increasingly viable.

This technology has a number of potential applications for companies operating in the manufacturing sector, perhaps most notably for in-house product development teams. Generative AI can expedite the visualisation process when designing a new product and help anticipate the production needs required.

Businesses can therefore accelerate product innovation, meaning a quicker route to market for new products as well as cost savings across the product development stage. Generative AI technology has the ability to amend the product visualisation in line with changing parameters, such as product weight, material or maximum cost. Investment in this new technology is therefore likely to cut the overall cost of developing prototypes.

Carl Johnson, UK Sales Director at Anglo Scottish, comments: “Data is king in the world of manufacturing and has been for a while now. What’s changing is the ways in which manufacturers are collecting that data and the quality of the data itself.

“The companies that are investing in end-to-end visibility over their procedures – like supply chain management or digital modelling of an entire factory – are the ones that will reap the benefits of efficiency. With greater insight comes the ability to trim the fat and gain a competitive edge. In the current financial landscape, that could make all the difference.

About Anglo Scottish Finance:

Anglo Scottish Asset Finance, founded in 2007, is an experienced group of finance brokers with a unique portfolio of funders. Covering renewables, agriculture, asset and commercial finance and more, Anglo Scottish’s extensive range of funders has enabled businesses and individuals around the country to achieve their goals.

Discover its wide range of finance options today: www.angloscottishfinance.co.uk

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