Fabrication Trends in Metal Industry: Future Investment in 4.0 Technologies
Industry 4.0 is the trend that just keeps on, well…trending. At this point, it’s now made such strong headway into the metal fabrication and manufacturing industries that some aspects are now simply part of how things are done, in particular as it applies to automation. However, the “trend” aspects now pertain to “soft” automation, rather than “hard” automation.
Hard automation is the automation of physical machines, like welding or material-handling robots, and these have become more common over the last decade. However, soft automation (the type that tracks data) is still less common in many manufacturing environments, even though most researchers and analysts agree we’re reaching a tipping point in its use. Why? Sensors. As they become increasingly inexpensive, sensors will soon be integrated into everything. Those sensors will allow manufacturers to track just about any aspect of their production, creating incredible opportunities for both micro-customization of products, and to wirelessly monitor productivity in order to optimize production and workflow without any manual data inputting.