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Five Technology Trends Driving Manufacturing (Are you on Board?)

Corporations that create in this world facilitate so many integral pieces to contemporary life by way of manufacturing.

Manufacturing is quite literally a backbone to so many other industries, generating components for medical devices, automobiles, electronics, and machinery that keeps everything progressing forward. All of these components frequently need to be replaced, or more often upgraded thanks to new innovations that create new capabilities and in turn create new needs.

In addition, global supply chain shortages are driving a new wave of nearshoring to put manufacturing closer to customer locations. New manufacturing plants will utilize the latest technologies in an effort to increase productivity och competitive advantage. Due to the fact that technology-driven exponential change affects everything, manufacturing businesses must always keep up.  

Of all industries, this one is one that har to be anticipatory in both how they manufacture items, and in foreseeing disruptions and change long before they create problems. But as of late, the disruptions the manufacturing industry faces are actually being caused by new disruptive Hard Trends impacting their processes, and ones that can and will improve the life of human users of products.

Five Tech Trends Impacting the Manufacturing Industry

VR Manufacturing Automation

  1. Increasing use of virtualization of hardware and software, including storage, applications and networking. Like all businesses, using new tools to elevate your core competencies is an imperative, but to keep costs low and deploy manpower in the best way, many are turning to new virtualized alternatives. The virtualization of software and hardware has been increasingly used by both large and small businesses as virtualization security improved. Hardware as a Service (HaaS) has increasingly joined Software as a Service (SaaS), creating what some have called “IT-as-a-Service.” How does this impact manufacturing companies and their processes?

When you think of automated manufacturing, you might not consider the actual brain of something operating. The rapid increase in data being generated by systems requires faster processing power, including the virtualization of processing power, and tremendous amounts of storage, including virtual storage. These improvements transform machines and mobile devices into supercomputers that will help companies cut costs and accelerate innovation in ways only possible utilizing new digital technology.

Going back to IT-as-a-Service for a moment, the thought of how much is involved in automated systems of manufacturing is already mind-boggling. Now, imagine how elaborate an IT department is needed to keep everything running! This virtualization Hard Trend provides access to powerful software programs and the latest technology without the expense of a large IT staff and time-consuming, expensive upgrades.

  1. Virtual reality (VR), including the metaverse, augmented reality (AR) applications and digital twins, will shift from a rapid evolution to a revolutionary level of applications. Augmented reality allows users to point a digital camera, using a smartphone or by simply wearing AR glasses when they look at something, and they will see an overlay of just-in-time information about the subject they are focusing on. Soon, companies like Apple and others will be selling conventional-looking AR glasögon that allow wearers to overlay data on their field of vision, providing useful information about what they’re looking at. 

The application of this tech trend in manufacturing is endless, and an interesting junction where human being capabilities meet transformative digital technology. For instance, there are currently employees in many auto manufacturers who troubleshoot issues with robots assembling cars and producing components. What if they could simply glance at the machine and see a prompt on their safety glasses to understand exactly what the problem may be?

This doesn’t stop at the manufacturing floor. Virtual reality uses oversized headsets to shut out the real world and provide an immersive, computer-generated 3D environment with which the wearer can interact. Imagine working on a machine for that same auto manufacturer, but from your home office by way of a virtual environment emulating the real environment in real time? Thanks to new relatively low-cost hardware, new commercial applications for specific areas of the manufacturing industry are currently being developed.

  1. Rapid convergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) combined with edge computing, AI and 5G will accelerate, forming the Internet of Everything (IoE) If augmented reality and the speed at which a professional work in the manufacturing industry wasn’t enough, 5G connectivity och den Internet of Things (IoT) will accelerate manufacturing processes even further. Edge computing will increasingly be used to tame the massive amounts of data generated by IoT applications, and as more and more machines and components have networked sensors added to them, we will see the emergence of the Internet of Everything (IoE), bringing instant insights and actions to the point of use and at the speed of need.

Humans already interact with machines, but what many manufacturing firms have discovered is the power of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications that are fast improving. This tech trend utilizes chips, microsensors, and both wired and wireless networks that will join networked sensors to create a rapidly growing IoT, sharing real-time data, performing diagnostics and making virtual repairs, all without human intervention.

Professionals and anticipatory leaders in manufacturing should look for ways to implement these Hard Trends now, because if you don’t, your competition will! There are well over 50 billion “things” talking to each other, performing tasks and making decisions based on predefined guidelines using AI. Think exponentially about where human beings fit and, more importantly, where their skills are absolutely needed in this equation.

  1. The adoption of tele-education, remote instruction, online learning and the gamification of training and education will advance rapidly. Upgrading our employees’ skills is even more important than upgrading technology. Just like in many industries, manufacturing is currently facing a Great Resignation of sorts. In some cases, employees are leaving because the company they are working for is protecting and defending the status quo instead of embracing the transformational technology changes that are now available. In addition, the Baby Boomer generation is retiring. Baby Boomers retiring is a Hard Trend future certainty that cannot be changed; the verklig problem is will they take their knowledge with them when they leave?

One major incentive in bringing new, young talent to work in manufacturing is quality training, which in and of itself is reassurance to those individuals that they have an actual future at these organizations even as new autonomous technology is implemented. Blended learning is using a combination of online and in-classroom instruction, together with instructional chatbots och AR and VR tools. This will increasingly be used to give employees an immersive experience via retraining and re-skilling, as future disruptions in their status quo occur.

To keep up with the pace of change, education and training will increasingly focus on accelerating learning by using advanced simulations och skill-based learning systems that are self-diagnostic, interactive, game-like och competitive. By making the experience fun, engaging and personalized, learning will improve and the barrier of entry to the industry will lower.

  1. Advances in 3D printing (additive manufacturing) are moving from rapid evolution to revolution and they are rapidly being applied to an ever-expanding number of industries. Here is where we arrive at the products and how technological trends transform the tactile end results of manufacturing. Both customized and personalized manufacturing of finished goods using 3D printing has been growing exponentially and, thanks to global supply chain disruptions, has been accelerated to a new level.

3D printers build things by depositing material, typically plastic or metal, layer by layer, until the product is finished. Originally designed to print prototypes, 3D printers are now increasingly being used to print final products for anything you can imagine, including jewelry, iPhone cases, shoes, car dashboards, parts for jet engines, buildings, bridges, prosthetic limbs, human jaw bones, blood vessels, organs, and much more. 

An ever-increasing number of manufacturers are adding 3D printing to their core capability list, making industrial-size, high-quality 3D printers something that manufacturing companies must get in front of now. As a business leader, it again pays to think exponentially about how you can continue to offer clients top-notch work that keeps them utilizing your services and not trying to find a different supplier or do it themselves. For instance, 3D printing as a service is increasingly becoming a topic of conversation by the likes of Amazon, where they could 3D manufacture their own products. If you don’t consider how to leverage this shift in the industry, others will!

Leverage These Trends with an Anticipatory Mindset

Why Leaders Should Adopt an Experimental Mindset

As evidenced in the five tech trends explored in today’s blog, an anticipatory mindset is a sure-fire way for manufacturing leaders to both leverage technology that makes them more productive, but also to think exponentially about how they can stay ahead of disruptions that could quite easily put their workforce out of a job, or their organization as a whole out of business.

In terms of processing power, high-speed connectivity, and AI and AR applications that are already involved in manufacturing, start to brainstorm how your organization’s future would look if you could leverage those technologies any way you feel necessary. For example, if you are noticing your customer base is demanding faster and faster turnaround times for products, how can your human workforce work better by implementing 3D printing or any of the five trends I outlined in this blog?

Conversely, think about the additive manufacturing processes that are starting to dominate every industry. You’re not going to put the secret back in the closet; even individuals can now buy varying sizes of 3D printers to utilize at home for small and medium-sized projects. What does your organization have to offer that they can’t do themselves in the near future?  

There has never been more opportunity to not just change, but to truly transform manufacturing and the entire industrial supply chain. Having a protect-and-defend or a wait-and-see attitude will get you into trouble fast! The time to act on the Hard Trends that are shaping the future is now!

If you want to see the future before it happens, download Daniel Burrus’ Top Technology Hard Trends Shaping 2022 Report.



Om e-postsäkerhet i hybridarbetets tid


Cloud Computing News

With remote working the future for so many global workforces – or at least some kind of hybrid arrangement – is there an impact on email security we are all missing? Oliver Paterson, director of product management at VIPRE Security, believes so.

“The timeframe that people expect now for you to reply to things is shortened massively,” says Paterson. “This puts additional stress and pressure on individuals, which can then also lead to further mistakes. [Employees] are not as aware if they get an email with a link coming in – and they’re actually more susceptible to clicking on it.”

The cybercriminal’s greatest friend is human error, and distraction makes for a perfect bedfellow. The remote working calendar means that meetings are now held in virtual rooms, instead of face-to-face. A great opportunity for a quick catch up on a few emails during a spot of downtime, perhaps? It’s also a great opportunity for an attacker to make you fall for a phishing attack.

“It’s really about putting in the forefront there that email is the major first factor when we talk about data breaches, and anything around cyberattacks and ransomware being deployed on people’s machines,” Paterson says around education. “We just need to be very aware that even though we think these things are changing, [you] need to add a lot more security, methods and the tactics that people are using to get into your business is still very similar.

“The attacks may be more sophisticated, but the actual attack vector is the same as it was 10-15 years ago.”

This bears true in the statistics. The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) found in its Phishing Activity Trends Report (pdf) in February that attacks hit an all-time high in 2021. Attacks had tripled since early 2020 – in other words, since the pandemic began. 

VIPRE has many solutions to this age-old problem, and the email security product side of the business comes primarily under Paterson’s remit. One such product is VIPRE SafeSend, which focuses on misaddressed emails and prevents data leakage. “Everyone’s sent an email to the wrong person at some point in their life,” says Paterson. “It just depends how serious that’s been.”

Paterson notes one large FMCG brand, where a very senior C-level executive had the same name as someone else in the business much lower down. Naturally, plenty of emails went to the wrong place. “You try and get people to be uber-careful, but we’ve got technology solutions to help with those elements as well now,” says Paterson. “It’s making sure that businesses are aware of that, then also having it in one place.”

Another part of the product portfolio is with EDR (endpoint detection and response). The goal for VIPRE is to ‘take the complexities out of EDR management for small to medium-sized businesses and IT teams.’ Part of this is understanding what organisations really want. 

The basic knowledge is there, as many organisational surveys will show. Take a study from the Enterprise Security Group (ESG) released in October in terms of ransomware preparedness. Respondents cited network security (43%), backup infrastructure security (40%), endpoint (39%), email (36%) and data encryption (36%) as key prevention areas. Many security vendors offer this and much more – but how difficult is it to filter out the noise?

“People understand they need an endpoint solution, and an email security solution. There’s a lot of competitors out there and they’re all shouting about different things,” says Paterson. “So it’s really getting down to the nitty gritty of what they actually need as a business. That’s where we at VIPRE try to make it as easy as possible for clients. 

“A lot of companies do EDR at the moment, but what we’ve tried to do is get it down to the raw elements that every business will need, and maybe not all the bells and whistles that probably 99% of organisations aren’t going to need,” Paterson adds.

“We’re very much a company that puts a lot of emphasis on our clients and partners, where we treat everyone as an individual business. We get a lot of comments [from customers] that some of the biggest vendors in there just treat them as a number.”

Paterson is speaking at the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo Global, in London on December 1-2 around the rising threat of ransomware, and how the security industry evolves alongside this threat. Having a multi-layered approach will be a cornerstone of Paterson’s message, and his advice to businesses is sound.

“Take a closer look at those areas, those threat vectors, the way that they are coming into the business, and make sure that you are putting those industry-level systems in place,” he says. “A lot of businesses can get complacent and just continue renewing the same thing over and over again, without realising there are new features and additions. Misdelivery of email is a massive one – I would say the majority of businesses don’t have anything in place for it.

“Ask ‘where are the risk areas for your business?’ and understand those more, and then make sure to put those protection layers in place to help with things like ransomware attacks and other elements.”

(Photo by Cytonn Photography på Unsplash)

Want to learn more about cybersecurity and the cloud from industry leaders? Kolla upp Cyber Security & Cloud Expo taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London.

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