Last updated on September 4th, 2021 at 10:18 am
Manufacturing automation helps to improve operating efficiency which means lower resource consumption and a better tomorrow.
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To meet the needs of 7.6 billion people, manufacturing needs automation. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics all play a vital role in supplying all of us with the goods and necessities that make up our day-to-day consumption. Through automation, we can even plan for a more sustainable industry that leaves the world cleaner and better than it was before.
Such efficiency and sustainably are now trending across the tech innovations of our time, leading to greater potential in the manufacturing industry. This potential comes in the form of connected, data-powered devices that apply AI to actionable insights. The result is a manufacturing industry built for precision and efficiency.
But can automation innovations really shape a better tomorrow?
Manufacturing automation is creating new potential for sustainability by providing all kinds of benefits to the manufacturing process. Through this incredible potential, we can reduce carbon emissions, improve efficiency, and use clean alternative materials and fuels. Here’s how.
Our use of fossil fuels contributes to much of the dangerous increase in carbon in the environment that is causing global climate change. To truly produce a better tomorrow, we need to cut down on toxic emissions, and automation is making this more possible than ever before.
Right now, transportation alone accounts for 15%-20% of greenhouse gas emissions every year. Transportation is a vital aspect of manufacturing, necessary for both bringing in raw materials and in sending out the finished product. With automated processes coming to transportation, however, manufacturers can reduce their carbon footprint while saving money.
These benefits are evident in the driverless trucking movement. Driverless trucks are typically electric, meaning they produce much fewer carbon emissions than their gas-powered counterparts. Additionally, machine precision in an automated vehicle can help cut down on the costly inefficiencies of navigating traffic, offering the best data-driven insights on routes and driving practices.
Even without fully autonomous trucks, we are seeing these insights come to automated routing and driver assistance systems. These track the metrics of drivers to offer them better alternatives. By saving on gas across the entire industry, manufacturers can significantly reduce the harmful emissions making their way into the atmosphere.
And the best part? Data-powered automation extends to machines on the factory floor, as well.
All the greatest tech trends now shaping the manufacturing industry revolve around efficiency improvements. This is the great gift of AI, which can assess massive data sets in real-time, then produce actionable strategies or even adjust on the fly to accommodate changes in the data. Many devices help bring such efficiency about, ranging from useful software to wearable technology.
But one of the biggest breakthroughs in manufacturing automation has come in the form of Computer-Aided Design (CAD). CAD is the process by which products are designed and tested to ensure the efficiency of their construction. The automation comes in during any task that might benefit from the precision of a machine, such as when framing load-bearing structures for even weight distribution.
With software, factory machinery can even be reconstructed digitally so that automated diagnostics can look for problems and improvement potential. This process is known as digital twinning, and it can make all kinds of manufacturing efficiency possible.
From predictive maintenance to a streamlined design, these tools reduce the resources needed when running a manufacturing plant. The result is a cleaner production process that—applied to the industry as a whole—can have massive implications on the state of the environment and the world’s natural resources.
Finally, automation is creating more possibilities for using alternative and sustainable materials. This starts in the research and design stage, where data analytics and digital twinning allow professionals to test new prototypes. Then, innovations in manufacturing like 3D printing give manufacturers additional power to try out new alloys and designs.
3D printing is disrupting the manufacturing industry due to its powerful additive process. The use of filaments to build a product from a digital model makes for reduced waste and greater quality control. But it also offers options when it comes to the materials manufacturers use.
Eco-friendly 3D filaments are becoming increasingly common in additive production. These are biodegradable or recycled plastics that can be used in manufacturing in place of traditional materials. The results are products that reduce the waste burden on the earth, leading to a cleaner future.
But many of these alternative alloys and materials would not be possible without the presence of automation. Not only is automation present in the actual process of 3D manufacturing but it also plays a role in finding the ideal combinations for new materials. AI data modeling allows a system to test thousands of options in a minimal time frame, giving manufacturers more time to focus on other ways to improve the process.
All told, these automated innovations make for incredible benefits to the manufacturing process. In turn, we can develop a more sustainable future in which waste is kept at a minimum and resources are utilized fully.
AI and machine learning automation in business have already created all kinds of game-changing developments. As these technologies continue to advance, manufacturers can produce better and cleaner practices that evolve their approach to sustainability. Driverless trucking, digital twinning, and 3D printing all play their roles in sustainable, automated production.
In the future, manufacturers will be able to expertly apply these data and software tools. This means energy-saving and waste-reducing efficiency. In other words, this means more lucrative manufacturing and a cleaner world. Learn how to apply these tools in your own ventures today to begin reaping the benefits of automation.
Indiana Lee is a writer and journalist from the Pacific Northwest with a passion for covering workplace issues, social justice, environmental protection, and more. In her off time you can find her in the mountains with her two dogs. You can follow her work on Contently, or reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @indianalee3