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article imageManufacturing sector adapting e-commerce into machine maintenance

By David Goehst     Jan 2, 2016 in Technology
Englewood - Machine begat technology. Man begat machine. So if man created machinery, it only makes sense a man-made Internet begin maintaining rooms full of manufacturing equipment.
Envision a future where a piece of heavy equipment could sense extra vibration from a worn out part, and order its own replacement over the Internet.
Imagine a robotic welder downloading its own software update during a mandatory plant shutdown week at an automobile manufacturer, then applying those updates and calibrations without the need for human intervention.
The future of man-made machinery is heading towards a more simplified — and highly technical — means to maintain their longevity. Despite the manufacturing sector taking several hits during each fiscal quarter of 2015, speculation is high that 2016 will offer numerous opportunities for e-commerce and manufacturing to get ‘better acquainted’.
In order for this dream to reach fruition, e-commerce must hold up its end of the bargain, which means developing the proper resources for manufacturing to tap into. Since robots don’t carry American Express, the most suitable means to streamline machine parts ordering online would be to develop and implement software so machines and ecommerce platforms can communicate with each other.
Creating an online parts catalog that is easy to find, easy to search and easy to order from would be an excellent place to start. From there, engineers and developers can implement and automated ordering sequence based on any given machine’s maintenance schedule — assisted by software and modules, of course.
Crude oil may halt progress - temporarily
Reuters reports December consumer sentiment jumped to a five-month high. When consumer demand jumps, manufacturing and similar sectors show an increase in orders. Even with oil prices kicking OPEC execs in the teeth, a strong consumer sentiment is an excellent indicator of a strong manufacturing backbone. That is, of course, if crude oil doesn't hit $80 as expected by Reuters analysts.
The manufacturing sector is heavily influenced by oil prices, and with 2016 expected to begin and end with tumultuous crude prices, layoffs and spending cutback could mar progress between e-commerce and manufacturing. Without extra capital on hand and production orders at a standstill, it’s rather difficult (if not impossible) to keep employees — let alone tinker with technology.
Several companies are approaching the process in a different matter during this slowdown: offer documentation for manufacturing maintenance techs so maintaining and part ordering are much simpler. Because we all know cutting the ‘simple’ costs until the manufacturing sector picks up traction is definitely an excellent place to start.
Imagine having the ability to scan a QR code affixed to a piece of outdated equipment, rendering an entire machine diagram and all associated parts from one simple interface. That would save tremendous man-hours involved with shopping, buying, shipping and fixing broken machine parts.
Well, it’s happening now.
Manufacturing e-commerce systems from the likes of Digabit, an Englewood, Colorado company that specializes in assisting the manufacturing world with documentation and catalogs, are growing in demand from companies like Artic Cat and Atlas Copco Construction. Manufacturing heads that want an insight into e-commerce orders so trends can be developed are finding Digabit's flagship suite, Documoto, particularly useful. Other companies specializing in e-commerce slash manufacturing solutions are expected to follow suit.
To any manufacturing head, having the ability to author and store parts catalogs in the cloud, streamline parts ordering and use QR code technology is one affordable yet powerful way to begin the process of connecting machine to cyberspace. Companies are lining up for services offering cloud-based simplicity, with expectations all processes will be automated in the near future.
Why stop at e-commerce?
Companies like Digabit aren’t stopping there. Computerized machines that have wireless or hard-wired internet access could receive periodic software updates, some could even self-calibrate after these updates. It seems a bit asinine that in 2016 we're talking about automated everything, but in a manufacturing world reliant on accurate, up-to-date machinery, it's actually long overdue.
The long awaited marriage between manufacturing and e-commerce has arrived in a much stabler, less hands-on environment. Barring setbacks caused by economic standstills or oil production snafus, maintaining machinery through an app may be what thousands of plant maintenance techs will learn to accept by 2020.
More about Manufacturing, Ecommerce, QR Codes, machine maintenance, calibrations
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