It can seem overwhelming to keep pace with the latest and greatest technologies that intersect with engineering and manufacturing: 3D printing, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, augmented reality, virtual reality, smart factories, and the internet of things (IoT). There is so much to consider, especially in a delicate economy that continually faces unpredictable disruptions.
Even so, staying on top of new technologies can be essential for product innovation and remaining competitive in a worldwide market. There was a day when what had worked in the past would carry you into the future. However, old ways of doing things may no longer be enough. The stability and security of businesses may ironically rely upon their abilities to adapt and embrace change.
Leveraging technology to your advantage
Tech-Clarity research finds that 84 percent of top-performing companies rate new technology as very important or extremely important to their innovation goals. Companies need to prepare now with the right design processes and tools to take advantage of the latest technologies. Those who ignore the latest trends may risk their survival. Let’s take a closer look at just three technologies that are impacting product development.
(If you want to skip ahead and learn more details now, download Tech-Clarity’s research report Futureproof Your Product Design – 7 Technologies Your Design Solution Should Support to learn how you can adopt the technologies that will help futureproof your business.)
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are exciting technologies with potential. In an AR/VR environment, engineers can test their designs themselves. This will give them insights into design choices to ensure they are engineering the right customer experience.
AR/VR can also offer a great way to improve collaboration with customers as you can offer your customers a realistic experience that isn’t possible when viewing a 3D model on a 2D screen. Customers can then provide feedback early in the design lifecycle so that engineers can consider their input before making physical prototypes.
According to Tech Clarity, 24 percent of top-performing companies say AR/VR will help them become more competitive.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
Despite having a weird and slightly obscure name for an enabling technology, the IoT adds connectivity and intelligence, so that products can interact with their environments in innovative ways. Part of this is because the IoT creates opportunities to extend product value with new services.
With IoT, companies can stay connected with their products, which in turn means connecting with their customers. Consequently, engineers can get insight into how customers actually use the product. With this insight, engineers can base their design decisions on proven customer use cases.
Over a quarter of top-performing companies said the IoT will help them make more competitive products, according to Tech Clarity’s survey.
Advances in material science has created more applications and opportunities for additive manufacturing. Materials also create opportunities to reduce weight, improve energy efficiency, and increase durability. Plus, they enable innovations such as flexible electronics, smart materials that react to their environment, improved sustainability, and more.
All of this can help companies offer something their competitors may not have.
New materials do change product design; they have different properties that impact strength, integrity, weight, and performance. Engineers need to understand those properties to avoid over-engineering products while still meeting both requirements and cost targets.
Thirty-six percent of top-performing companies report that new materials will improve their competitiveness.
A large percentage (44%) of top-performing companies identify the cloud as a technology that will improve competitiveness over the next decade. In 2018, only 29% felt this way about the cloud, but results over the past few years prove real-world benefits to product development companies.
The cloud lowers IT and maintenance costs and can minimize the requirements for expensive workstations, while making CAD more accessible on a variety of devices. Plus, resources can work from any location with an Internet connection and a web browser. It offers greater flexibility, making it easier to add team members or functionality based on project needs. This allows engineering needs to drive software requirements rather than IT decisions.
Most importantly, from an engineering perspective, it breaks down departmental silos and makes it easier to share data and work together for both technical and non-technical team members.
Futureproof Your Business
Companies must innovate to stay ahead of competitors and bring winning products to market faster than ever. Fortunately, technological advancements have created opportunities to increase innovation. However, to leverage these new technologies, companies must select the right design tools that best take advantage of technology breakthroughs. To be successful, you will need the right design tools to support product development. Learn more by downloading Tech-Clarity’s research report Futureproof Your Product Design – 7 Technologies Your Design Solution Should Support to learn how you can adopt the technologies that will help futureproof your business.
Or contact your local reseller to see how SOLIDWORKS and the cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE platform can help you maximize new technologies to outpace the competition.