We are in an era of digital transformation. From energy to technology, how we operate in the world is changing at an ever-increasing pace. Manufacturing is adopting new transformational technologies more than any other industry. Here are some of the most impactful digital transformation technologies that we anticipate will shape 2018 and beyond.

3D Printing

digital transformation - 3D printingAdditive manufacturing will be a huge driving force in the manufacturing digital transformation. It not only revolutionizes the speed at which products can be made but also changes how factories onboard new production. Manufacturing companies will evolve from having capacity and equipment ownership to having intellectual property (IP) ownership.

Manufacturing is moving from physical part ownership to Intellectual Property (IP) ownership.

Instead of purchasing equipment and parts, manufacturing companies will purchase the rights to produce a specified number of a company’s design. Then they will use their own 3D printers to either create end-use products or molds to manufacture parts at scale. This will significantly impact the manufacturing supply chain as fewer physical parts will be moved from factory to factory and instead, IP will move digitally between organizations. This will increase the need for digital security and rights protection.

Boeing’s Digital Transformation

Boeing has already begun this transition into IP ownership over physical ownership. They are using 3D printers to print repair parts at the locations they are needed, rather than manufacturing, storing, and shipping from warehouses. This change has resulted in less investment and stagnant inventory and sped up repair time putting expensive airplanes back into use more quickly.


The use of robotics has become increasingly popular in many aspects of manufacturing including production and warehouse operations. In production, robots are used for hazardous or delicate manufacturing processes while humans monitor them remotely. Humans will no longer be needed to work in adverse environments. Instead, robots will be able to handle all operations and then deliver products.

The use of robots will increase accuracy, productivity, and customer satisfaction all while lowering costs.

digital transformation - warehouseIn warehouse operations, robots can quickly and easily:

  • Put away materials
  • Select products
  • Pack goods
  • Submit orders
  • Maintain stock

Internet of Things (IoT)

From monitoring the status of robots to gathering data that can be utilized in machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT) technology will be utilized across many aspects of manufacturing. Statista predicts that by 2020 there will be over 30 billion connected devices, and by 2025 that number will more than double to 75 billion connected devices. These devices will be used in homes as well as manufacturing plants where they will:

  • Report production completions
  • Monitor machinery and equipment
  • Call for maintenance, repairs, and service
  • Notify management of quality issues

Statista predicts that there were be 75 billion connected devices by 2025.

This digital transformation will increase productivity and reduce downtime as factories will pre-emptively know when machines need to be taken offline for maintenance, instead of impacting operations due to unexpected downtime or malfunction. Reports will automatically be generated from the devices and any out-of-spec products will be automatically flagged for less rework and reduced overall costs.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning

Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and IoT all work together to improve factory productivity and product quality. IoT plus AI enables machines to fine tune their own production processes to ensure quality consistency and reduce rework.

Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and IoT work together to improve factory operations.

Machine learning will transform front and back office processes. Intelligent workflows will be used to hand typical processes like order entry, cash receipts, and invoicing. This will free up employees to focus on more complicated tasks, places where there are exceptions to typical processes, and increase value-added services.

AITogether, AI and machine learning will:

  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Shorten lead times
  • Lower costs
  • Transform processes
  • Increase productivity

Data and Analytics

All of our digital transformation technologies will produce massive amounts of data that overwhelm traditional business intelligence tools. Organizations will need to utilize big data analytics engines to keep operations running smoothly. These engines will also help refine processes as they can comb through data sets to find patterns and insights.

With an abundance of data, organizations will need to implement big data analytics engines to understand patterns and deliver insights.

dataThese big data engines will increase the need for data scientists, who will organize and analyze the patterns and insights the engines find. To truly benefit from this data, IT teams will need to provide insights quickly. Analytics engines will present the data in ways that are visually easy to understand, and analysts must be able to use this data to make decisions to improve customer satisfaction.

Get Ready for the Digital Transformation with 3HTi

For organizations looking to begin or continue their digital transformation journey, working with 3HTi is a great place to start. We have expertise in all of these transformational technologies and offer both hardware and software to help you achieve your goals. We offer the latest in CAD software, 3D printing, and data management technology, plus training so you can get the most out of these advanced technologies.

For more information about our available products and how we can help you move into the era of digital transformation, contact us.