Manufacturers are able to improve engineering efficiency thanks to tools that allow better collaboration and innovation. Advanced processes allow plants to increase productivity and, therefore, profitability when companies choose to implement technological changes to keep pace with the supply-and-demand side of consumer economics.
Technology, such as cloud computing and connected devices, allows companies to collaborate with anyone at any time. A plant manager in Michigan can examine the same data as a parts supplier in China and Mexico due to information stored in the cloud. All parties involved in the collaboration can examine manufacturing processes to improve efficiency from the beginning to the end of the production line.
Virtual engineering teams can give companies support at any time, any shift and anywhere. These engineering teams cut labor costs as firms do not need to hire new engineers or contract consultants to come in for a certain period of time. Plus, companies can solve problems faster as more people collaborate on the same problem. The more data engineers have, the better, when it comes to increase efficiency.
Some parts of machines include tiny sensors or switches connected to other devices through wireless connections. The wireless connections allow several ways for manufacturers to innovate engineering efficiency. Sensors can detect deviations in temperature, composition or speed of the manufacturing process. Proximity sensors detect anything out of place. Engineers can examine the data to alter machines to improve the line.
Switches do several things along the line. If a switch detects something out of place on the line, it can signal the line to shut down so engineers can fix the problem in real time. A limit switch can connect to the proximity sensors to combine for even greater efficiency.
These switches and sensors are so small, they do not need plugs for electricity. They operate on batteries and send data wirelessly to management software. Thanks to cloud computing, engineers can connect to data through mobile devices, laptops and connected computers from anywhere in the plant. Companies can store this data securely and give collaborators access to the information from remote locations.
Information compiled by computers help managers make decisions to improve the quality of products. Data analysis also leads predictive technologies that can forecast demand of a product some time in the future. Predictive analysis lets engineers predict how long machines will last, when machines need maintenance and how equipment needs to be fine-tuned to run the most efficiently.
Software, apps, computers and automation continue to come down in price. That means small- and medium-sized manufacturers can compete with large ones. Government programs also help smaller manufacturers compete to get products out faster. Several of these software suites have comprehensive software packages that take care of wireless connections, analytics and cloud computing. As systems become less expensive, companies can afford to collaborate and innovate to improve efficiency of the systems involved.
Engineering efficiency will improve thanks to technology that aids collaboration and innovation. Manufacturers have little excuse to invest in this technology as computer and wireless technology in the plant has become the norm rather than the exception.
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