15 Tech Devices Optimizing Manufacturing Plant Operations

By Emily Newton is a tech journalist with over five years of experience covering how technology is changing industry and business. Keep up with Emily by connecting with her on LinkedIn.

Manufacturing plants have entered the golden age of innovation. As technological advancement peaks, you have a unique opportunity to choose from dozens of viable devices. Your strategic selection can lead to dramatic productivity, collaboration and revenue gains.

1. Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics devices have been revolutionary for optimizing manufacturing plant operations. They prevent machinery failures, provide insight into equipment investment decisions and enable workers to coordinate with their machinery like never before.

Manufacturers can achieve unparalleled performance by leveraging predictive maintenance. It can reduce equipment breakdowns by 75% and increase production rates by up to 25%, practically preventing downtime altogether. No matter if machinery suddenly acts abnormally or simply requires routine maintenance, mechanics will be able to address the issue proactively.

2. Mobile Technology

Mobile technology is a proven productivity optimizer. In fact, manufacturing plants save 42 minutes daily per worker after implementing it. On top of enabling real-time communication regardless of location, it allows production workers to view critical equipment information.

If you outfit production workers with mobile technology, you can make communication and equipment troubleshooting more efficient. You can even develop your own organization-specific application to drive strategic growth while minimizing external distractions.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) can collect a tremendous amount of valuable operational data, giving management crucial insight into productivity gaps and potential areas of improvement.

3. Machine Vision Systems

Machine vision systems leverage artificial intelligence for image, speech and facial recognition. Experts predict its market value will rise to $50.98 billion in 2030 — up from $13.84 billion in 2020. What other technology experiences a 30% growth rate in only a decade?

These systems optimize manufacturing plant operations by identifying real-time equipment and assembly line anomalies. They can even streamline administrative tasks — facial recognition can clock employees in and out, minimizing manual managerial work.

4. Collaborative Robots

As industry leaders know, collaborative robots (cobots) are quickly becoming manufacturing standards. They can work during off-hours, achieve consistently high productivity rates and are immune to human error. Also, they improve digital collaboration on the factory floor by enabling people to work side-by-side with heavy machinery safely.

Since cobots can be programmed to handle multiple unique duties, they can take on the most monotonous and demanding work, minimizing humans’ physical damage and mental exhaustion. Workers’ overall job satisfaction increases as a result, leading to long-term productivity gains on both ends.

5. Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) optimizes manufacturing plant operations by enabling workers to learn in a no-risk environment. Conducting workplace training with an immersive headset can improve long-term productivity, safety and coordination.

Administrative VR applications exist, as well. C-suite executives, line managers and supervisors can use this technology to streamline factory floor planning, visualize new product designs and conduct meetings remotely.

6. Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) for the factory floor lets workers view non-invasive critical information in their peripheral vision. Warning, training and alert overlays enable real-time coordination between humans and machines, improving digital collaboration and streamlining operations.

Workers can use AR daily, whether they spend their time on the assembly line or doing equipment maintenance. After all, this device can display information overlays, highlight machine components during repair and offer performance improvement pop-up suggestions.

7. Digital Twins

A digital twin offers administrative insight to improve operations. Already, 70% of manufacturing plants have adopted it because it shows so much promise. C-suite executives can use it to coordinate their vision with management’s capabilities, which optimizes factory floor planning, enhances investment decisions and increases production efficiency.

8. Blockchain Technology

Management can leverage blockchain technology to develop an immutable ledger for product assembly, component sourcing, scheduling and inventory management. Streamlining these administrative aspects improves coordination and timeliness, improving collaboration with suppliers and on the factory floor.

9. Drones

If you are like most people, you consider drones recreational devices. In reality, they have numerous workplace applications. You can use them to view ordinarily inaccessible places, inspect inventory remotely and capture an aerial view of the factory floor for layout planning.

10. Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is an impossibility to most people, but it has already exited the prototyping phase and is in testing. Researchers have successfully demonstrated its utility, proving it can reduce equipment friction to mitigate wear, oil and heat damage. Facilities can use this futuristic manufacturing lubricant to minimize unplanned downtime.

While you may hesitate to consider nanotechnology a necessity, the value it generates is impressive. Its economic impact reached up to $83 billion in the United States in 2022 alone. Needless to say, this self-programmable, microscopic technology is undoubtedly impactful.

11. Robot Process Automation

Robot process automation is another technology most manufacturers will soon recognize as an industry standard. Since it carries out tasks during off-hours and is immune to human error, it reduces operating expenses and increases productivity. Its impact is visible through improved management, quality control and coordination on the factory floor.

12. The Industrial Internet of Things

The Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) can collect a tremendous amount of valuable operational data, giving management crucial insight into productivity gaps and potential areas of improvement. Leveraging historical and real-time metrics enables them to enhance machinery performance and rearrange for optimal efficiency.

13. Wearable Technology

Production workers equipped with IoT wearables can track their work time and collect productivity data. If equipment malfunctions or they accidentally enter a dangerous area, an alert will appear for them and their supervisor in real time. The continuous monitoring of workers dramatically improves digital collaboration.

14. Energy Management Systems

Manufacturing plants consume a tremendous amount of electricity. If management uses energy management systems, it can identify resource-intensive equipment and wasteful standby consumption to optimize power distribution. They achieve lower overhead costs as a result.

15. Natural Language Processing

Many manufacturing plants experience communication barriers that impact collaboration on the floor. According to one survey, 44% of upper management professionals state they cause substantial delays. This issue is especially noticeable in international organizations.

Natural language processing technology can translate, rephrase and generate text, improving digital collaboration. Where most translation devices only bridge language barriers, algorithms interpret context, accounting for communication styles and cultural differences.

Take Advantage of This Technological Peak

For a long time, the development of robotics was one of the last significant technological advancements manufacturers could take advantage of. Now, they can choose from numerous versatile devices to address performance and operational gaps. They can find a modern solution regardless of their needs.