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Factories that employ “lights-out manufacturing” are fully automated and can run without any human presence on site. Believe it or not, some factories have been operating this way for more than 15 years.

Industry 4.0,” or what has been called the fourth industrial revolution, is making this kind of manufacturing more prevalent than ever. The following article explores some of the advances of Industry 4.0, and how the top manufacturing companies are delivering the factories of the future, today.

Robotics & 3D Printing

Factories that have access to 3D printing greatly accelerate the product development process. Typically used for prototyping, 3D printing saves both time and money by producing product iterations faster.

Like 3D printing, robotics can automate the physical trial-and-error method. For instance, a manufacturer that works with chemicals can transform their process with liquid-handling robots that can automatically pipette.

AR and VR

Augmented and virtual reality are allowing manufacturers to speed up their design processes, reduce their development costs, and iteratively test multiple variations of a product.

At Pivot International, we’re using VR and AR to streamline design processes. With virtual visualizations, our teams can make strategic product improvements, giving our clients immense cost-savings.

Resource Planning & Sourcing

After a product design is determined, the next task is figuring out all the production details, i.e. finding a supplier.

While sourcing is a complicated and lengthy process, technology is making it a lot easier. For instance, with decentralized manufacturing, multiple facilities cover one area, so the products are manufactured and distributed nearby.

While enterprise resource planning (ERP) software can track resource allocation, it becomes difficult when one has several ERP systems. Blockchain can be used to unify this data. For instance, British Airways first used blockchain technology in 2017 to create a unified database of flight information.

Quality Assurance

Technology is also streamlining quality assurance in facilities. Computer vision can detect issues and defects that humans may potentially miss. The start-up, Instrumental, is already using AI to uncover production errors. With electronics manufacturing, some mistakes are not even physically visible to the human eye. In such instances, technologically-enabled QA is beneficial.

In addition to tracking resources for production, blockchain can also assist in QA. As of August 2017, Walmart, Kroger, Nestle, and other corporations partnered with IBM to use blockchain for supply chain tracking in hopes of improving food safety. By using blockchain, Walmart was able to reduce the amount of time needed to track mango shipments from 7 days two 2.2 seconds.

Pivot International, an agile product design, development, and manufacturing firm, has taken an integrative strategy to supply chain digitization. This strategy has resulted in compounded annual revenue growth of more than 100% over the last 5 years and made Pivot an industry leader.

For businesses seeking a single-source partner, Pivot ranks first in customer satisfaction, and for more than 46 years has been the driving force behind some of the most innovative products on the market. If you’d like to learn more about how Pivot can help take your product or supply chain to the next level, reach out today for a free, no-obligation consultation.