Manufacturers in Asia are rapidly adopting smart solutions to improve the quality of manufactured goods.
According to a 'Manufacturing Vision Study 2017' by Zebra Technologies, 77 percent of Asian manufacturers are moving towards "connected/smart" factories within the next five years to improve the quality of their products.
In the next five years, Asian manufacturers will also expand use of mobile technologies to 72 percent (an increase of 45 percent), wearable technology to 65 percent (an increase of 32 percent), location tracking to 61 percent (an increase of 23 percent), and voice recognition/navigation to 51 percent (an increase of 6 percent) to improve safety and increase productivity on the plant floor.
An example of this 'safety automation' may include equipping factory workers with video camera glasses to better record what is happening on the plant floor.
"The Zebra APAC Manufacturing Vision Study shows that savvy manufacturers have started to invest in smart factory technologies to reap benefits such as enhanced productivity, increased visibility and the ability to predict demands. As we move toward industry 4.0, this trend will continue to expand and shape the industry in the coming years," explained Ryan Goh, vice president and general manager, Zebra Technologies, Asia Pacific.
The study also highlighted that use of manual processes will decline. Currently, 62 percent of those surveyed are using pen and paper to track vital manufacturing processes on plant floors.The number is set to fall to 24 percent by 2022, the study suggested.
"Manufacturers are entering a new era where there are increasing expectations of faster and higher quality production along with highly competitive margins. This trend is especially relevant for Asia Pacific--a region often regarded as the manufacturing hub of the world," added Goh.
However, given that these technologies will "automate" most factory processes, it is necessary to have backend skilled-workers on standby mode, urged Brandon Lee, country manager, ATS Singapore. He said workers will need to help out when there is a system error (for troubleshooting purposes) and specialists will be required to ensure quality control.
He also highlighted barriers which may cause a delay for some manufacturers and hinder their chances of developing "smart factories". These barriers include; lack of budget, security guidelines around certain technologies, complexity of technology needed and IT resources.
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