What’s the future of IoT in digital manufacturing?

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Industrial production is at the cusp of a watershed that has already disrupted the market for equipment and machinery. Digitalization has forced equipment manufacturers to shift their value proposition into service areas such as data capture and analytics, life-cycle monitoring and production optimization, transforming standalone hardware into interconnected systems that orchestrate workflows. However, technological advances are swift. What looms on the horizon?

Step 1: View the landscape


A broad search in Scopus combining variations on the keywords digital and manufacturing retrieves a vast body of literature (>32,000 documents) spanning multiple decades.  Classifying documents according to embedded (e.g., sensors, local software), connected (e.g., applications, systems, remote) and interoperable (e.g., IoT, cloud) technologies shows the emergence of the Internet of Things pushing a sharp rise in yearly publication rate over the last four years.

Step 2: Identify emerging topics


A more granular look at the top keywords summarized by Scopus for this literature shows a prominent but relatively stable occurrence of terms like sensor, monitoring, and connectivity. The term life cycle is increasingly used, perhaps aligned with new offerings in predictive maintenance and no-downtime guarantees. Outpacing all other keywords in the last four years, however, is additive manufacturing or 3D printing.

Step 3: Identify focus areas


Academia dominates the publication space for additive manufacturing and 3D printing as it pertains to the digitalized manufacturing floor. Scopus lists institutions in the US, Europe, and Singapore among the top 15 affiliations contributing to this body of literature. However, Scopus also lists nearly 230,000 patents on the topic from both industry and academia.

Step 4: Find experts

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At the top of the list of academic authors is Dr. Yong Chen. His research focuses on novel processes, machine development and new functional materials for additive manufacturing with the goal of realizing the cost and time-saving potential of this promising technology.

In a market characterized by rapid technological advances likely to upend the playing field, it is essential to anticipate emerging trends in time to incorporate these into next-generation products. Identify impactful developments and find the right expertise. Discover Scopus and see beyond citations.

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