Why AI, 3D printing and IoT will reach new heights in 2019

Sam Rothwell, HSO team lead, explores the manufacturing trends that we may see appearing in 2019. The comments below explore why there will be a further rise in the use of technologies such as AI, 3D printing and IoT as they become more affordable and are increasingly seen as vital tools to manufacturers.
Rothwell says: “In the manufacturing sector, we have been seeing the rise of a number of key technologies recently, specifically artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and additive manufacturing (3D printing).
“We expect, in 2019, to see this trend continue, especially in AI and IoT adoption, as manufacturers are increasing investment in these now affordable technologies which are underpinning more accurate decision making and unlocking new business models, such as shifting towards service-based product offerings.
“The main operational areas we see potential in, are primarily around the predictive maintenance area, lowering costs by collecting data on real-world performance versus expected, then allowing adjustments to be made to future design.
“This improvement in predictive maintenance has also allowed manufacturers to think differently about how they deliver value to their customer base, shifting from specific and individual product sales, towards ongoing subscription or per-usage billing. We expect this to continue and increase as the cost and complexity of the technology becomes lower and lower.
“We also are seeing major opportunities emerge for increased product personalisation and faster prototyping based on 3D printing. Particularly in the case of product personalisation, there is a strong link to AI, again, where sentiment and social media analysis can be used to far greater effect to inform design options.
“Some of the challenges we are seeing are around the growing digital skills gap needed to run a business centered around competing on the results of analysis obtained from these big data sets created by IoT and processed by AI, as discussed previously.
“This is an area where, short to medium term, the need can be met through outsourcing technology to help deliver projects, but longer term, manufacturers will need to consider how they entwine these newer trends into their core business.”
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