Industrial Design and the Next Manufacturing Revolution
Overview: Industrial Design
Industrial design or ID refers to the professional practice of designing objects, products, services, and devices that are used daily by a plethora of people all around the globe. Industrial designers mainly focus on the functionality, manufacturability, and the physical appearance of a product or service.
Ultimately, it extends to provide a long-lasting experience and value offered by a product or service to final users. Every object that a person interacts with on a daily basis, including home, school, office, or public setting, is the outcome of a special design process. During which countless decisions are undertaken by an industrial designer and their team, with an aim to improve the quality of life via well-executed designs.
The current standard of living in the developed world is due to the endeavors undertaken by industrial designers to optimize and streamline the production process. The goal is not to just make a product or service more useful or affordable but also attempt to make it aesthetically pleasing to the eye to encourage purchase.
What is the Next Manufacturing Revolution?
Over the past recent years, the global economy has been gradually crumbling down due to the sluggish growth in the last fifty years, often leading to ambiguity, stress, and severe conflicts. But our prayers have been heard, and the fourth manufacturing revolution is here.
A brief reminder on what exactly is the fourth industrial revolution, let's start with the first three:
1st Revolution: Began in the 1800s with the inception of the steam engine.
2nd Revolution: Started in the early 1900s by Henry Ford with mass production.
3rd Revolution: Led by the introduction of computerized manufacturing and robotics in the 1970s.
The Fourth Manufacturing Revolution – Industry 4.0
Just like in the past, when periods of extensive growth were driven by massive manufacturing uprisings, this latest revolution aims to get everyone out of this ongoing growth slump and will drastically change the way globalization has been molded over the last few decades.
According to Olivier Scalabre, the industry 4.0 merges two major forces that enable the next generation of manufacturing enterprise:
- Existing manufacturing system
- Large scale technological innovations
Benefits of the fourth manufacturing revolution involve enabling scaled production with more agile and smaller factories, a more responsive and simplified supply chain, and increased localized production.
Examples of Industry 4.0
A few of the technologies that play a crucial role in this revolution include augmented reality, additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, enterprise manufacturing intelligence, and predictive analytics. Discussed below are two examples of how such major technologies have entered the manufacturing space.
Example 1: 3D Printing
This technology has already enriched the manufacturing of plastic products and is now making its way to metal products. This is not a minor feat considering that metal and plastic represent twenty-five percent of global manufacturing production.
Example 2: Manufacturing Robots
Manufacturing robots can be programmed to perform non-repetitive, complex tasks with and without human collaboration. According to Scalabre, only eight percent of the factory tasks are automated by in the next few years. This will go up to twenty-five percent. This will lead to higher productivity, more outputs and achieve additional growth.
These technologies, along with future ones, will assist in developing smarter and better products and will lead to a suitable setting for large scale customization. Additionally, the fourth manufacturing revolution will give birth to more flexible and productive manufacturing industry, providing everyone with an opportunity for sustainable growth and more distributed wealth.