Disruptive Breakthroughs in 3D Printing

2019 is looking to be a big year for new, disruptive technology. The business sectors that will be most dramatically affected will be healthcare, manufacturing, construction, transportation, aerospace, and life sciences. One industry that is always growing and shows no signs of slowing is 3D printing. It is going to continue to be hugely disruptive to every industry — including yours.

The newest 3D printing technology enables the use of dozens of different materials simultaneously in one print run. Materials range from biological filament and living tissue to chocolate, rubber, metals, plastics, clay, and wood fiber.

We have reached the point where 3D-printed electronics can be successfully integrated with multiple materials and complex shapes. In short, we have entered a world in which many things can be 3D printed — right in front of you. And now the speed at which printing can occur is where we are headed next.

The newest types of 3D printers are up to 40 times faster than original additive manufacturing machines released in the past five years. These astounding devices can reduce production timelines of very functional pieces of equipment from days to mere hours. The possibilities are endless.

A known 3D printing example in the medical field is dental implants or 3D models of teeth orthodontists use to determine the care needed for braces. Likewise, the mechanical design process of 3D printing will become more autonomous in the coming years, taking elements from pre-existing designs to create new ones.

Using 3D printing, sophisticated engineering projects like printing a car can be designed, built, and brought to market faster than ever, rather than the typical year or multiyear-long development cycle. This concept is being referred to as 4D printing, where time is a factor in the process. But with all this shortening of what used to be long-term projects, many fear that this means sacrificing quality to the machines. This is not true.

When breakthrough technologies arrive, they do notsimply replace older ones. We integrate the old and the cutting edge to create new value, and that in turn alters how we relate to the older technology without erasing that older technology completely. Transformation is seldom a simple case of new tech replacing old tech.

3D printing has not and will not fully replace traditional manufacturing; it will instead be integrated with it to provide even more value. Jobs of years past will be repositioned in new ways to work alongside 3D printing in manufacturing, especially given the speed at which 3D printing increased coupled with the importance of the parts 3D printers are creating. This increases the need for employees to review and ensure quality of the items created.

Technology-Driven Change Coming to a Market Near You

We’re about to witness an explosion of new applications. Rapid prototyping, as well as personalized manufacturing, has allowed manufacturers to innovate with new materials and new designs. The spectrum of products from 3D printers has reached household goods, jewelry, clothing, human implants, jet engine parts, and much more to come. Mainly, healthcare has become one of the bigger ones in the past five years.

I’ve spoken a lot about the Hard Trend — a future fact that is inevitable — of the aging baby boomer population. Personalized medical devices will fit better, perform better, and perhaps reduce medical costs, enabling us to replace everything from pacemakers and pins to old organs with new organs created out of organic tissue. Even replacement bones have been 3D printed recently. These are good examples of a technology that will help us meet the needs of a generation getting older.

But the technology and processes have been refined in the past few years — in 2019, they will become even more disruptive in multiple industries. 3D printing truly excels in its ability to enable personalization. This ability to economically create a very limited run of widgets or entire devices — down to a single part run — is what makes 3D a truly disruptive technology. Add in the sheer speed of the process and you have a technology that will drive change.

It’s your turn — how do you envision using 3D multi-material printing? Don’t fall into the trap of seeing this as overhyped, a fad, or something that’s just going to go away. Instead, ask yourself: How do the potentials of this technology excite and inspire you? What will you make of it? And how will it disrupt your industry so you can learn to be more anticipatory?

If nothing else, 3D printing has closed the gap between imagining something and building it.

Which technology innovations could be a game-changer for your industry? Learn how to tell with my latest book The Anticipatory Organization.

Smart Construction: How AI and Machine Learning Will Change the Construction Industry

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is when a computer mimics specific attributes of human cognitive function, while machine learning gives the computer the ability to learn from data, as opposed to being specifically programmed by a human. Here are ten ways that AI and machine learning will transform the construction and engineering industries into what we’ll call “smart construction.”

These days, seemingly everyone is applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning. I have written about disruptions in the manufacturing industry, such as Industry 4.0, while illustrating the Hard Trends that indicate where improvements will be made in the future.

The construction industry, which makes up 7% of the global workforce, should already have applied these technologies to improve productivity and revolutionize the industry. However, it has actually progressed quite slowly.

Growth in the construction industry has only been 1% over a few decades while manufacturing is growing at a rate of 3.6%. With the total worker output in construction at a standstill, it is no surprise that the areas where machine learning and AI could improve such statistics were minimal. Yet, those technologies are finally starting to emerge in the industry.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is when a computer mimics specific attributes of human cognitive function, while machine learning gives the computer the ability to learn from data, as opposed to being specifically programmed by a human. Here are ten ways that AI and machine learning will transform the construction and engineering industries into what we’ll call “smart construction.”

  1. Cost Overrun Prevention and Improvement

Even efficient construction teams are plagued by cost overruns on larger-scale projects. AI can utilize machine learning to better schedule realistic timelines from the start, learning from data such as project or contract type, and implement elements of real-time training in order to enhance skills and improve team leadership.

  1. Generative Design for Better Design

When a building is constructed, the sequence of architectural, engineering, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing tasks must be accounted for in order to prevent these specific teams from stepping out of sequence or clashing. Generative design is accomplished through a process called “building information modeling.” Construction companies can utilize generative design to plot out alternative designs and processes, preventing rework.

  1. Risk Mitigation

The construction process involves risk, including quality and safety risks. AI machine learning programs process large amounts of data, including the size of the project, to identify the size of each risk and help the project team pay closer attention to bigger risk factors.

  1. More Productive Project Planning

A recent startup utilized 3D scanning, AI and neural networks to scan a project site and determine the progress of specific sub-projects in order to prevent late and over-budget work. This approach allowed management to jump in and solve problems before they got out of control. Similarly, “reinforcement learning” (machine learning based on trial and error) can help to collate small issues and improve the preparation phase of project planning.

  1. More Productive Job Sites

Professionals often fear machines will replace them. While intelligent machines will take over first repetitive and eventually more cognitively complex positions, this does not mean a lack of jobs for people. Instead, workers will transition to new, more fulfilling and highly productive roles to save time and stay on budget, and AI will monitor human productivity on job sites to provide real-time guidance on improving each operation.

  1. Safety First

Manual labor not only has the potential to be taxing on the body, but also to be incredibly dangerous. Presently, a general contractor is developing an algorithm that analyzes safety hazards seen in imagery taken from a job site, making it possible to hold safety briefings to eliminate elevated danger and improve overall safety on construction sites.

  1. Addressing Job Shortages

AI and machine learning have the capacity to plot out accurate distribution of labor and machinery across different job sites, again preventing budget overruns. One evaluation might reveal where a construction site has adequate coverage while another reveals where it is short staffed, thereby allowing for an efficient and cost-effective repositioning of workers.

  1. Remote Construction

When structures can be partially assembled off-site and then completed on-site, construction goes faster. The concept of using advanced robots and AI to accomplish this remote assembly is new. Assembly line production of something like a wall can be completed while the human workforce focuses on the finish work.

  1. Construction Sites as Data Sources

The data gathered from construction sites and the digital lessons learned by AI and advanced machines are all tools for improving the productivity of the next project. In this way, each construction site can contribute to a virtual textbook of information helpful to the entire industry.

  1. The Finishing Touches

Structures are always settling and shifting slightly. It would be beneficial to be able to dive back into data collated by a computer to track in real time the changes and potential problems faced by a structure — and AI and machine learning make this possible.

Given the inevitable changes on the horizon, and the potential for costs to drop up to 20% or more with increased productivity, professionals in the construction industry must pay attention to Hard Trends, become more anticipatory, and ultimately learn to turn disruption and change into opportunity and advantage.

Know What’s Next

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Shape the Future–Before Someone Else Does It For You!

The Industry 4.0 Advantage

This visceral image of “industry” being gritty and exclusively blue-collar is true to some degree, but when “4.0” is added to it, it takes on a whole new meaning, and blue-collar workers end up believing the narrative that robots and artificial intelligence (A.I.) will delete their jobs.

Though common, this fear is unwarranted. Despite the now-proven Hard Trend that A.I., advanced automation and robotics, 3D printing, and other industrial Internet of Things (IoT) advancements often replace mundane tasks in manufacturing, Industry 4.0 transformations allow us to work alongside machines in new, highly productive ways.

Industry 1.0 to 4.0

Manufacturing in every industry has evolved as four distinct industrial revolutions since the 1800s. The first industrial revolution took place between the late 1700s and early 1800s. Manufacturing evolved to optimized labor performed by the use of water- and steam-powered engines with human beings working alongside them.

The second industrial revolution began in the early part of the 20th century, introducing steel and use of electricity in factories. These developments enabled manufacturers to mobilize factory machinery and allowed for capitalizing on manpower in mass production concepts like the assembly line.

A third industrial revolution began in the late 1950s, which brought with it automation technology, computers, and robotics, increasing efficiency and repositioning the human workforce. Near the end of this period, manufacturers began experiencing a shift from legacy technology to an increase in attention to digital technology and automation software.

The current industrial revolution is Industry 4.0, which increases interconnectivity and networked intelligence through the Internet of Things (IoT) and other cyber-physical systems. Industry 4.0 is far more interlinked than revolutions before, allowing for improved company communication and collaboration.

The general definition of Industry 4.0 is the rise of digital industrial technology. To better understand, let’s take a look at nine building blocks of Industry 4.0.

Big Data and Analytics

Industry 4.0 allows for streamlining, collecting and comprehending data from many different sources, including networked sensors, production equipment, and customer-management systems, improving real-time decision making.

Autonomous Robots

The ability for robots to interact with one another while accomplishing rhetorical tasks increases productivity and opens new job opportunities for employees willing to learn new things. These future autonomous robots will cost less while having greater range of capabilities.

Advanced Simulation

Advanced simulations will be used more extensively in plant operations to leverage real-time data, mirroring the physical world in a virtual model. This includes machines, products, and humans and allows operators to test and optimize the machine settings in the virtual world first, accelerating a predict-and-prevent operational strategy for downtime issues.

Horizontal and Vertical System Integration

Universal data-integration networks in Industry 4.0 increase connectivity among departments, suppliers, and partners. This resolves lack of communication or miscommunication within a project crossing departmental boundaries.

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

Decentralizing analytics and decision making while enabling real-time feedback is key in today’s age. IIoT means connected sensors, machines communicating with each other, and more devices having embedded computing enabling Edge Computing, where networked sensors get new data instantly and automated decisions happen faster.

Agile and Anticipatory Cybersecurity

Secure means of communication and identity management is quite important to cybersecurity in Industry 4.0, as increased interconnectivity brings the risk of security issues. Manufacturing companies must pre-solve problems in cybersecurity and implement anticipatory systems by adding a predict-and-prevent layer to A.I.

Advanced Hybrid Cloud and Virtualization

As data increases, local storage will not suffice, which brings us to Cloud Services and Virtualization. Elements of high-speed data analytics coupled with A.I. and machine learning enable real-time knowledge sharing. Advanced Cloud Services also enable anticipatory predict-and-prevent strategies.

Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing)

Advanced additive-manufacturing methods will be integrated into mass production systems, providing a new level of speed and customization along with the ability to solve complex manufacturing problems while also functioning as a standalone system for custom manufacturing.

Augmented Reality

According to my Hard Trend Methodology, this relatively new technology will gain more traction as augmented reality (A.R.) apps for business and industry are developed. For example, in Industry 4.0, AR can help quickly find parts in a warehouse by looking around from one location.

The adaptation of any of the new technologies in Industry 4.0 will face an uphill battle, as blue-collar manufacturing industries are not often open-minded about embracing new technology often seen as a job eliminator. Embracing the ever-changing spectrum of Industry 4.0 technologies allows acceleration of innovation, pre-solving seemingly impossible problems, and developing and implementing digital manufacturing solutions.
Leaders should help their managers and employees anticipate disruption and change to get excited about learning new skills that will keep them employed and ensure development in their careers. Start with my latest book The Anticipatory OrganizationI have a special offer for you!

Changes in Manufacturing: How Will Different Generations Adapt?

We categorize everything, from subgenres of music to which foods are the healthiest. But most categorization occurs between generational differences in the workforce and what success means to both, especially in manufacturing.

We categorize everything, from subgenres of music to which foods are the healthiest. But most categorization occurs between generational differences in the workforce and what success means to both, especially in manufacturing.

The Change Curve of Manufacturing

In recent years, the change curve of manufacturing has gone from a static line to an extreme slope. In the past, we all knew what manufacturing was, and safely assumed we knew where it was headed. But ongoing technological advancements are uprooting that sedentary perspective, and the change curve of manufacturing is now an upward climb. What the industry and job market of manufacturing were isn’t where manufacturing is today, or where it’s headed.

That change curve also has an effect on what manufacturing jobs will be in the future, and how they will differ from what they were in the past. That Hard Trend changes how we categorize success, and to us as employees in manufacturing, the word is taking on a whole new meaning. Much as we once “knew” where jobs were headed, we used to have a polarized view of what success meant. For many Baby Boomers in manufacturing, it meant working at a company until you retired, doing the repetitive and often dirty jobs to make ends meet. The paycheck you got at the end of the week meant you were successful.

But the younger generations entering the workforce have an entirely different view of life, success, and jobs in general, let alone jobs in manufacturing. Digital technology, additive manufacturing (i.e., 3D printing) and the internet of things (IoT) are already here and — in most cases — making our lives easier. Everyday tasks that used to take some time to accomplish are now shortened through the use of ever higher-tech devices, which are a constant in the lives of members of younger generations who grew up with them.

Take, for example, telecommunications. Baby Boomers grew up viewing landlines and cordless phones as appliances. Millennials see laptops and smartphones with instant messaging as appliances. Now, the next generation already sees its mobile devices and wearables as appliances. We all categorize, but that categorization changes with the times.

Different generations adapt to technology and define success quite differently.

Different generations’ adapt to technology and define of success quite differently. Also, the fact that many Baby Boomers remain in the workforce as younger generations enter the same industries is increasing the generational divide. The younger generations’ outlook challenges the past definitions of success; to millennials, for example, “success” has much to do with how much they love what they do. The Baby Boomer generation measured success differently; however, if they plan on staying in their jobs, they must open their minds to these trends and let go of the categorizations that further the generational divide.

All generations must rely on one another more than ever before, as more generations will be working together than ever before. While young generations may learn about “the old-school work ethic” from older generations, older generations can and should learn from younger generations about how to apply new tools to old tasks and reinvent the industries they are in.

For example, automation is becoming more capable and widespread, whether we like it or not. Those back-breaking, repetitive jobs discussed earlier are increasingly being taken over by machines. This shouldn’t be viewed as a bad thing; however, many members of the older generation worry about losing their jobs to robots, or believe that dependence on technology makes us weak or lazy. The younger generation can teach the older generation not to fear radically new ideas, but embrace them as progress and learn how to work alongside them.

Job Mentoring and Automation

The same can be said for older generations teaching younger generations about their work ethic and the importance of integrity, trust, and earning those things in the workforce. Forty years of experience can’t be taught via YouTube, but it can be taught in on-the-job mentoring of a younger worker who’s just starting out in manufacturing. Some things, automation will not replace, and all generations can learn to thrive in the future from one another.

We will spend the rest of our lives in the future, so perhaps we should spend some time identifying the Hard Trends that are shaping that future. You should be asking yourself questions about how your career is evolving, how people are evolving, how you can embrace new technology like you embraced past technology, and how to keep your mind open and learn from members of other generations instead of shutting yourself off from new ideas by categorizing everything. Embracing new technology can change the dynamic of the manufacturing workforce while learning from the past to foresee potential problems of the future and pre-solving them before they happen.

Are you anticipating the future of your career? If you want to learn more about the changes that are ahead and how to turn them into an advantage by becoming anticipatory, pick up a copy of my latest book, The Anticipatory Organization.

Pick up your copy today at www.TheAOBook.com