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Microsoft’s manufacturing trends for 2019

As we advance into 2019, Microsoft argues that manufacturers are now more than just makers, but instead ‘the thread that connects the entire lifecycle of a product’.

Microsoft’s 78-page 2019 Manufacturing Trends Report explores in detail six emerging manufacturing trends that are empowering manufacturers to design more intelligent operations and increase the speed of doing business.

The trends include:

  • Merging IT systems and operational technologies: Previously isolated IT systems used for computing are now being merged with the operational technology systems used to control and monitor processes and devices, creating smarter, more efficient operations.
  • Moving from product models to anything-as-a-service (XaaS) models: Driven by the growth of the Internet of Things and the Cloud, many organisations are moving from product models to service models, giving their customers more options with greater flexibility.
  • ‘Connected intelligence’ technologies: Augmented with smart sensors and advanced data processing, manufacturing is more connected and intelligent than ever. Using artificial intelligence for tasks such as detection, classification, probability and optimisation is set to generate more than £2 trillion in business value worldwide by 2021.
  • Evolving technology that is unlocking improved processes: Manufacturing technology continues to evolve, unlocking new opportunities such as computer modelling and running ‘digital twins’ alongside real-world systems to facilitate decision-making.
  • A new generation of highly-educated workers: As the ‘baby boomer’ generation approaches retirement and a new, young, highly-educated workforce enters the marketplace, businesses are being forced to rethink how they operate to attract this tech-savvy, entrepreneurial and collaborative generation.
  • Difficulties planning for the future: An incredibly polarised political environment exemplified by Brexit and a growing anti-globalisation sentiment means attitudes are shifting rapidly, making uncertainty the norm.

Similar forecasts have been made by consultancy Deloitte, whose recently-published Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions suggest, among other things, that 3D printing is set for a breakthrough year.

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