Survey: Using Manufacturing Technology for Growth in 2021
Cleveland-area manufacturers are optimistic about business conditions, and most are gearing up for a busy 2021. This was the message to Manufacturing Works from 20 local manufacturers through interviews conducted with company leaders in January and February. The survey helped us understand how participants are using manufacturing technologies in the plant setting to enhance production output, data collection, safety and other areas in order to reach their goals for the year.
Using Technology to Improve Production Output
While most firms cited staffing as an ongoing bottleneck to growth, many are exploring creative ways to invest in manufacturing technology that will enable them to utilize their people more effectively. For instance, a majority of executives mentioned their interest in installing sensors, data management systems, and visual dashboards on the plant floor as a way to track machine performance and assist production teams in optimizing output.
More than half are also exploring automation. Today's collaborative robots, for example, are being employed to reduce the repetitive nature of some jobs, which can free people to manage the work of multiple machines, rather than just operate one. The result is more output per person—a gain in direct productivity and higher plant throughput rates. This goal came up repeatedly in the interviews. Robotics can be also employed for tasks which are especially difficult to perform (inspection) or hazardous for people to do.
Data Accessibility for Improved Plant Efficiency
Automation can also include eliminating time-consuming paperwork that typically follows orders around the plant, another concern that repeatedly came up in the talks. Several participants expressed the desire for more information on digital tablets at workstations that can save time, collect more information, and create quality safeguards all at once.
Making the factory 'smarter' was a goal that came up repeatedly. How to do this? Examples of how to do this include:
- Installing sensors and data systems that can predict the failure of critical machinery
- Creating home-grown software systems that can reach across the enterprise
- Integrating information from multiple sources into one common platform that would eliminate double-entry of data.
How are You Using Technology to Grow Your Manufacturing Business in 2021?
Manufacturing Works is using these findings to develop programming that will address issues with practical solutions starting later this spring. In the meantime, if you’d like to be part of this conversation with Manufacturing Works, please contact Ed Weston, Director of Digital Transformation.