All I can say when it comes to emerging technologies is “Wow!” It used to take a decade for change to have a dramatic and lasting impact on business models. You could walk toward change, and take your time preparing for it. Think about the automobile. Henry Ford invented the car in 1903, but it wasn’t until 1913 that it went into mass production. The horse-and-buggy industry had 10 years (plenty of time) to plan and change its business model to compete.

You no longer have the luxury of time. Today, the future is moving at us at a pace never before seen in history. In my opinion, there will be more change by 2020 than we have seen in the previous decade. The question for your heat-treat plant is: “Are you keeping up with the pace of change that will allow you to compete for the record growth that lies ahead in the 2020s and 2030s?” Look at how fast change is happening now.

  • According to Forbes, the top 10 jobs in 2010 didn’t even exist in 2004.
  • It took the telephone 75 years to reach 50 million people. It took the game Angry Birds 35 days to reach 50 million people.

The world around the heat-treating industry is changing in ways in which you need to stay tuned. Processes are changing. Materials are changing. Every industry is looking to strip out costs and add processes like additive manufacturing to increase profits. You cannot wait. If you are going to capitalize on the growth coming your way, your company must look at how it needs to change to meet the driving demands in product, delivery and customer experience of the future.

If you are unsure about the “growth coming your way,” let’s take a look. Just as the 78 million baby boomers drove the 1980s and 1990s to be the most lucrative times in our economic history, the over 100 million millennials are going to do the same for the next two decades. Everything they buy is going to grow dramatically because of the overwhelming number of them that will be in the marketplace. You need to be in industries selling the products they buy.

When you look at your company, are your people, processes, safety procedures, technology strategy, operations and production ready to maximize your growth? 

One of the driving elements preparing for fast-pace change is technology. Technology is key because it can do the following three things:

  • Remove any friction, anxiety or stress in the business model, with regard to delivery, product, customer experience and operations.
  • Allow for real-time analytics through smart technology and data management, making instant changes to maximize production, productivity and profits.
  • Connect you with the entire supply chain in your industry, allowing for information sharing that enhances the intercompany communication channels.

If your company does not have a strategy to stay ahead of the technology curve, you will most likely be left behind in your ability to compete. New smart technologies are helping small, medium and large manufacturers maximize people, time and capacity while minimizing safety risks, error rates and downtime as well as enhancing the ability to perform predictive maintenance and production. 

Through data analytics, companies are able to learn from their past data to make real-time, predictable decisions about the future. The following are 10 emerging technologies you need to explore that are changing the landscape of every industry and how products move through production.

  • Self-driving technology
  • 3D printing/additive manufacturing
  • Sensors
  • Drones
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Robotics
  • Nanotechnologies
  • Virtual reality
  • Holograms
  • Information sharing

Push, challenge and lead your company into the future, because the future is unforgiving to those not prepared or informed. Make sure that your company is researching any and all types of technology advances to maximize the efficiency of your heat-treat plant.