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Smart Manufacturing is the Next Big Thing

smart Technology
Source: Rockwell Automation
Technology has automated so many processes in the manufacturing and industrial sector. Novel technologies have displaced many from the labor market and opened doors for a few with advanced knowledge in emerging tools and trends. A few years ago SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) replaced electric power utility system operators and transformed power generation, power transmission, power distribution, oil & gas production, transportation systems and so on. In the 1950s and 1960s, utility system operators had offices in electric power substations and power plants where they controlled equipments and routinely checked against system failure. The utility system operators lost their jobs when the supervision and control functions became automated and remotely done by SCADA.
Another example of where technology has replaced manpower is in the automotive industry. Several tasks like spot welding, spray painting and assembly became automated and robots took over human beings.
A future trend in factories is smart manufacturing, which will be disruptive to factories of the future. 

Smart Manufacturing is the next-generation rise of intelligent factories that will report the current condition of manufacturing facilities around the world from a manager's perspective. The smart manufacturing plants will respond flexibly to various changes in customers, products and means of production. Smart manufacturing will encompass the interaction between plant equipments, monitoring of processes, feedback, data gathering and sharing in supply chain, and resilient manufacturing asset management. 

Features of Smart Manufacturing:

  • intelligent and integrated process
  • networked sensors
  • plant-wide optimization
  • sustainable production
  • energy-efficient
  • advanced modeling and simulation
  • data interoperability 
  • cloud computing
  • increased flexibility of manufacturing plants
  • low cost of products due to increased manufacturing intelligence inspiring innovation in processes and products that will drive down prices
  • improved environmental stability
  • better safety record and human errors reduction in manufacturing plants
  • faster product customization
  • optimal production rates
  • automated feedback generation and integration in supply chain management
  • creation of tech jobs 
Possible outcomes...
  • smart manufacturing will deplete unskilled labor positions and increase demand for highly skilled positions
  • it will decrease the number of workers needed in a manufacturing plant

What this means for the average worker?

Smart Manufacturing means that the average worker needs to be dynamic. With increased manufacturing intelligence a lot of cumbersome processes in manufacturing will be streamlined, hence, benefiting consumers and producers. Many roles held by human beings will become obsolete as well as tasks human beings performed. Being dynamic in this context means that the average worker needs to be constantly evaluating changes in manufacturing and acquiring skills that will be relevant to progress in the industry. With future advancements in manufacturing one is left with two options -be dynamic or be displaced.

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