5.) Additive manufacturing
We are well into Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution, which relies heavily on the digitization of analog manufacturing processes and information. In turn, digitization relies on internet connectivity, smaller and smarter sensors and edge-cloud computing. These three factors are critical elements the Industrial IoT (IIoT), a platform of technologies that about 63% of manufacturers believe will substantially increase their profitability in the next few years.
Two major areas for additive manufacturing that are being transformed are in predictive maintenance and the 3D printing of parts.
Predictive maintenance (PdM) anticipates maintenance needs on the manufacturing floor to avoid costs associated with unscheduled downtime. Using smart sensor technologies to connect and monitor equipment helps to identify patterns that lead to potential problems or failures. AI and machine learning software help train monitoring equipment to recognize these patterns and sometimes even figure out how to address them.
IoT Analytics’ estimates the global predictive maintenance market reached $3.3 billion in 2018 and is expected to become a $23.5 billion market by 2024. This industry is served by a number of existing and startup companies. For example, a US startup called Seebo employes a tried-and-true process known as Root Cause Analysis (RCA) to identify factors that cause defects or quality deviations in the manufactured product. The company combines industrial AI, machine learning, and probabilistic graphical models to improves it RCA related predictions.
|(Image source: Sessbo)|
The other growing additive manufacturing innovation is 3D printing technologies, which continue to find new applications in rapid product prototyping and creating parts on demand. One example of the later is the UK’s British Airways airline recent intention to use 3D printers to create aircraft cabin parts.
While printing cabin parts may seem like a small start in the use of 3D printers, one should note that the British Airways fleet currently consists of more than 280 planes supplied by both Boeing and Airbus. These two major airline companies have already integrated additive manufacturing technologies like 3D printing within the maintenance, repair, and operation (MRO) processes, as well as for the prototyping of new aircraft part designs.