High-tech manufacturing has evolved over the past century, requiring redefinition whenever industries and new technologies advance.
The high-tech manufacturing concept came into widespread use halfway through the 1900s. This was attributed to the burgeoning new technologies that posed potentially endless possibilities for consumers and manufacturers alike.
For instance, this age saw the proliferation of atomic energy utilization, complex computers, and mass production of then-advanced consumer electronic goods like televisions and refrigerators. These days, high-tech manufacturing is largely focused around building components for personal and commercial computers, as well as products that help computers run.
In this post, we’ll review the high-tech manufacturing industry and how manufacturers of high-tech products are leveraging digital solutions to improve their production processes.
What is high-tech manufacturing?
High-tech manufacturing is a subset of the manufacturing industry that focuses on products comprising of advanced technologies including circuit boards, semiconductors, fiber optic cables, capacitors, and more. By some definitions, high-tech manufacturing can be expanded to include chemical processing and the production of drugs and medicines.
Defining high-tech manufacturing can become complicated because technology advances over time, sometimes in a short span. In other words, some technologies that were regarded as revolutionary have become more commonplace, relegating them from the high-tech category by some analysts’ standards.
Examples of high-tech manufacturing industries include:
Challenges faced by high-tech manufacturers
High-tech manufacturers operate in tightly-controlled environments due to the sensitivity needed to make products. Additionally, this sensitivity also ensures that such manufacturers toe the line when it comes to meeting necessary quality standards and regulations.
After all, the products from these various high-tech industries affect population health and everyday life.
Here are some of the challenges faced by these manufacturers:
Complex manufacturing process: As earlier discussed, high-tech manufacturing businesses implement complex production processes in their manufacturing operations. To accomplish these processes, manufacturers need state-of-the-art machinery and employees with specialized skills.
Cost of research and development: High-tech manufacturing industries require continuous innovation to develop better products as new technologies become available.
This requires businesses to sink a significant amount of capital into discovering better technologies or more advantageous ways to apply existing methods.
Extended lead times for critical components: High-tech products require a number of extensively engineered components to ensure necessary functionality and quality. But just like the final products they will be a part of, these critical components also undergo complex manufacturing processes.
For example, there has been extensive focus in recent years on the semiconductor chip shortage exacerbated by the pandemic and supply chain instability. This has resulted in delays across automotive manufacturing, as well as other industries reliant on these components.
Supply chain impediments: High-scale manufacturers turn to global sources due to the comparative rarity of the desired raw materials. However, doing so introduces various opportunities for breakdowns in the supply chain.
Coordinating multiple suppliers for numerous parts is particularly taxing, causing disruptions to the manufacturer’s production schedule.
Unfavorable geopolitical events: High-tech manufacturers often operate at national or international levels. As such, political or economic changes in the manufacturer’s target area have repercussions on the business.
For instance, telecommunications equipment manufacturers often supply different large organizations and nations. However, if governments ban or limit certain technologies, these foreign manufacturers might lose market share to local high-tech businesses.
Therefore, international high-tech companies must factor political sentiments into their operations.
Intellectual property security: Because of the significant investments into developing and implementing cutting-edge technology, high-tech businesses strive to protect their intellectual property (IP).
However, businesses must be mindful of other businesses across the globe potentially stealing their IP to use in competitive offerings. As such, companies find themselves sinking more capital into information security.
Opportunities for businesses in high-tech manufacturing
Despite the various challenges high-tech manufacturers face, some opportunities lessen the hardships. We’ve written extensively about the trends influencing the manufacturing industry at large, but some opportunities for high-tech manufacturers specifically include:
Cloud computing: Shifting from on-premise IT infrastructure allows companies to respond to shifting marketplace and supply chain dynamics more efficiently. In addition, cloud computing significantly reduces the risk of losing vital information, allowing companies to store and access data near-limitlessly.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: The intensely competitive high-tech manufacturing space requires companies to respond to changes in real-time lest they get left behind by the competition.
Leveraging AI and machine learning technologies provides actionable insights into prevailing conditions, allowing businesses to respond appropriately. Additionally, these blooming technologies can predict conditions, enabling manufacturers to avoid potential business disasters.
5G high-speed connectivity: Research and development, supply chain management, and other data-intensive, high-tech manufacturing aspects require fast connections for the operation to stay on track.
Manufacturers are increasingly looking to adopt 5G technology to increase their adoption of AI, cloud computing, and robotic automation.
How Tulip can help high-tech manufacturers
As businesses look to take advantage of new and emerging technologies to improve the efficiency of their production processes, they will continue to rely heavily on the digitization of manual, human-based processes as well as seamless data collection across their entire operations.
Using Tulip, manufacturers are able to connect all of the systems, machines, and workers that drive production across their facilities using a singular, cloud-based solution.
Leveraging the data collected with Tulip apps, businesses can pinpoint actionable insights to identify areas of inefficiency or quality issues, allowing managers to issue corrective actions and prevent these problems from arising in the future.
If you’re interested in learning how Tulip can help you improve the way you manage your operations, reach out to a member of our team today!
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