Manufacturers have experienced challenges in the past couple of years. First, the pandemic led to a shutdown and a supply-chain crisis. And as we were climbing out of those challenges, finding and keeping an adaptive and reliable workforce became another one. We recently caught up with automotive PR expert Michael Szudarek from Marx Layne & Company to discuss further.

As things are slowly returning to normal, much focus has been placed on how manufacturing companies need to work smarter. Some of the top trends are helping OEMs, and other suppliers achieve that goal. Here are some top ways companies are adapting to the post-Covid, post-supply-chain crises to realize better efficiency.

The IOT is now the IIOT

The Internet of Things spoke to how devices used in manufacturing were connected to sensors. These sensors report data, allowing managers to make modifications, address miscalculations and get better results from the production line. Now we have the Industrial Internet of Things. They are still sensors, but the IIOTs now present downtime and even offer assumptions when things go wrong.

It’s all about the network

Manufacturers are finding that now that we have the latest generation in mobile tech, companies are finding ways to create fast networks that securely connect the sensors and machines inside a wireless network.

If it isn’t broken, it still may be fixed

Companies are figuring out that if reliable analytics are run on IIOTs within a 5G network, data can be mined to accurately predict a faulty machine or component before it breaks down. And this, of course, minimizes downtime and increases efficiency.

Automation Allies will get bigger

We now have rows and rows of robots and other machines that help humans keep the production line moving. And as AI improves, the trend of completely automated manufacturing or “dark factories” will continue to speed up the production process.

Two really is better than one

Digital twins have been around in manufacturing for a while. Simply put, a digital twin can be a replicated piece of equipment with sensors collecting real-time data. The digital twin can warn operators when a piece of equipment exceeds its threshold. Operators can also use the digital twin info and schedule maintenance on machines. The trend is taking off. Industry analysts say in 2022, as much as 70 percent of the manufacturers will employ some type of digital twin to improve throughput, prolong the machine’s life and return better ROI.

3D is becoming more commonplace

While technology is still evolving, 3D Printing is likely to become a valuable asset in manufacturing. Experts predict that 3D Printing will become a cost-effective and efficient way to crank out products. Industry managers are finding that 3D Printing can vastly speed up prototyping.

Things will keep getting smarter

Thanks to smartphones, tablets and other devices that tell us everything from who is at the front door to having a device adjust the thermostat, smart clearly is here to stay. And with much focus on renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions, smart products will also be reusable. Companies will know they have to continue engineering smart products that consumers will buy.