Startups in key sectors have the potential to dramatically change the business landscape for established players in the manufacturing sector. By identifying the best strategic partners at the earliest stage and leveraging the advantages they bring, manufacturers can achieve step changes in productivity and derive a genuine competitive edge. Let’s take a look at the areas in which tech startups can make a difference, as well as some big-name examples of innovation in action.
Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT)
As the name suggests, this takes the IoT technology with which we are all familiar and places it in an industrial setting. Having machines and devices connected and communicating with one another provides a range of data that can be used to deliver specific benefits and economies. For example, the latest MRP software for small manufacturers collects information from a range of sources within the manufacturing process in order to deliver real-time inventory control and portfolio management capability.
Drones and robotics
Drones are becoming increasingly important in manufacture, providing all-seeing eyes where they are needed most to improve quality and reduce downtime. An example here is the introduction of collision-safe drones. These can be used to facilitate physical or inline maintenance in locations that are difficult to reach, without the need to shut down manufacturing processes.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning
Machine learning and AI can be used in combination to increase manufacturing performance, transform processes and introduce new methods of automation. There are numerous examples of this sort of technology in action. For example, a relatively small startup in Germany has shaken up the staid and traditional railway sector with its automated sensors that provide real time data relating to the status and efficiency of trains and tracks. This single innovation is estimated to have generated cost savings of around 30 percent, and could render as many as 50 percent of maintenance staff obsolete.
This is the concept of providing completely new manufacturing processes that challenge traditional processes and business models. By way of an example, sportswear manufacturer Adidas has established a collaboration with Carbon, one of the most strongly funded startups in the 3D printing space. Together, they have developed the Futurecraft 4D running shoe, which has a midsole that is printed from liquids. This renders the traditional process of injection-molding obsolete.
A new approach to manufacturing
The 3D printing example is, perhaps, the most striking example, but each one of the startups that operates within these sector clusters provide tangible advantages over the incumbent technologies that traditional manufacturers are using.
The spirit of innovation and the willingness to think outside the box and take a few risks also makes businesses like these attractive to a wider range of funding, for example through crowdfunding or venture capital. Typically, these are small, agile businesses with flat hierarchies and fast decision making processes, meaning time to market is kept to a minimum. Up till now, the incumbent technologies have seen little competition, but these new startups are truly shaking up the world of manufacturing.
If you want to learn more about our blog, please click here.