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Five tech trends

Data will drive equipment design in the future.


April 3, 2020
By Association of Equipment Manufacturers

Topics
The integration of data and steel is the big theme in machinery innovation today. Rental stores should prepare staff and customers to spend as much time holding a screen as a joystick.

Both the immediate and long-term future of the equipment industry will be defined by the development of several ever-evolving and cutting-edge trends and technologies.

Many of these trends and technologies are poised to have a significant impact in 2020 and beyond, so it’s critically important for rental stores to develop a keen understanding of what they are, how they will grow over time, and how they will impact those within the industry – both this year and in the future.

With that in mind, let’s look at five manufacturing trends to watch in 2020.

WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY
The rise of the Internet of Things in industrial applications has given way to the increased prevalence of wearable technology in the construction industry. Manufacturers of all types and sizes are increasingly looking into – and investing in – wearable devices with different sensors that can be used by their workforces. Electronic features found in wearable devices allow for organizations to monitor and increase workplace productivity, safety and efficiency. In addition, employers are now readily capable of collecting valuable information, tracking activities and providing customized experiences depending on needs and desires.

Improvements in bio-sensing now allow for health parameters such as body temperature, heart rate and blood oxygen levels to be monitored. Furthermore, employers now have the ability to leverage the data they obtain to complement welfare programs and reduce healthcare costs.

Factors leading to the increased adoption of wearable technology include portability, convenience, operational efficiency and much more. Consumers use the technology for fitness and health tracking, mobile notifications at a glance and even contactless payments. The business world has taken notice and wearable technology is quickly becoming a fixture in factories and on jobsites.

Potential applications in the industrial and construction sectors include safety awareness and injury prevention, training, process improvements, situational awareness, augmented reality, remote management, authentication and security planning.

PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE
Effective equipment maintenance is central to the success of any rental store. So it goes without saying that the ability to predict impending failures and mitigate downtime is incredibly valuable. Predictive maintenance offers that and much more. Ultimately, it gives stores the means to optimize maintenance tasks in real time, extending the life of their machinery and avoiding disruption to their operations.

Seebo, an industrial data solutions provider, outlines predictive maintenance for Industry 4.0 as a method of preventing asset failure by analyzing performance data to recognize patterns and identify potential issues before they occur. Predictive maintenance for Industry 4.0 is a method of preventing asset failure by analyzing performance data to identify patterns and predict issues before they happen.

Predictive maintenance isn’t without its challenges, however. In order to successfully build a predictive maintenance model, equipment owners must gain insights on the variables they are collecting and how often certain variable phenomena occur. It’s absolutely critical for organizations to possess knowledge about each specific machine and a strong data set of previous failures to review. Owners also have to make decisions around lead time, as the closer to failure the equipment is allowed to go, the more accurate the prediction.

5G/SMART MANUFACTURING
The fourth Industrial Revolution isn’t coming, it’s already arrived. Smart factories are becoming the norm in manufacturing, and they rely on connected devices to leverage technologies like automation, artificial intelligence, IoT and more. In addition, these devices are capable of sensing their environments and interacting with one another. Downstream of manufacturing, equipment owners and users should expect to see more and more of this kind of interconnectivity anywhere machinery is used.

According to a recent article from AT&T, 5G networks offer the industry opportunities to create new revenue streams. The jobsites of tomorrow will rely greatly on sensor technology, and they will prominently feature connected tools, utilizing data to guide the tasks of the workforce. According to AT&T, 5G’s high capacity, wireless flexibility and low-latency performance make it the perfect choice to support manufacturers in these efforts.

VIRTUAL REALITY AND AUGMENTED REALITY
When it comes to using augmented reality and virtual reality, the possibilities are endless. Whether it’s helping make jobsite processes more efficient, improving training, or maintaining machinery more effectively, these technologies are capable of becoming game-changers in the coming years.

Virtual reality allows its users to move around a 360-degree virtual world and – in some cases – even interact with it. When using virtual reality, real, physical surroundings are no longer a factor. And, thanks to advancements in technology, the virtual world is now being reproduced better than ever before. Augmented reality differs in the sense that its users are required to be at a specific location to augment their experience of reality, while those who use virtual reality are completely immersed in a virtual world. Leading construction equipment manufacturers have demonstrated AR/VR interfaces for their equipment in the past few years, and the International Powered Access Federation is wholeheartedly embracing VR training and testing for lift operators to gain and maintain their skills accreditation.

CYBERSECURITY
The importance of cybersecurity in any business cannot be overstated. As fleets become more and more connected to the rental store’s information network, it almost goes without saying that the industry needs to develop a keen understanding of how to best deal with them. As the rental stores become more connected with time, equipment manufacturers and their customers will be impacted in a number of ways. For example, even the simple act of charging a mobile device in a nearby USB port may lead to dire consequences. As a result, companies must be diligent in their efforts to educate employees on the potential consequences of their cyberactivities. The ability for a store to effectively protect itself today hinges upon its willingness to take the following two key steps: address organizational concerns and implement a clear and effective cybersecurity strategy.

Cybersecurity is – and will – remain a major concern for companies of all types and sizes. With malware attacks on the rise and many organizations having been negatively affected by the increased prevalence of ransomware, companies (both literally and figuratively) can’t afford to overlook cybersecurity as a top priority in 2020 and beyond.


AEM is the North America-based international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers with more than 1,000 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture and construction-related industry sectors worldwide. The equipment manufacturing industry in the United States supports 1.3 million jobs and contributes roughly $159 billion to the economy every year.