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Why manufacturing matters at CES

How many times have you been to CES? Once? Five times? Twenty times? In that experience, how many cool gadgets and electronics have you seen “launched” that you couldn’t wait to get your hands on? That number is probably in the hundreds no matter how often you’ve been.

Now, how many of those amazing innovations have you seen come to market? Maybe half? If that? While it remains a showcase for impressive technology advancements, CES is also known for being a launching pad for “cool” products that never make it to the consumer.

The reason for that is not for lack of vision or lack of demand. Sometimes, it’s the inability to deliver, which has nothing to do with the quality of the technology or the brilliance of the idea. Scale, distribution, and affordability are all directly impacted by the efficiency, productivity, and quality with which these products are manufactured.

Automation has been revolutionary in manufacturing — the automation of simple tasks introducing faster workflows. But faster is not always better. And the amount of data created from automated machinery has complicated the already growing problems of data silos, data gaps and data waste.

That’s why a focus on making manufacturing smarter is a critical step in making these cool new technologies a reality. For the first time in history, it’s possible for factories to harness the full potential of their data in order to learn and adapt to new and changing conditions. The result is a more efficient and agile ecosystem, less downtime, and a greater ability to predict and adjust to changes within the facility as well as changes in the supply chain or in customer demand.

Ultimately, a “smart factory” creates a virtual space — a Smart Digital Reality — that enables design and engineering, production, and metrology to work together to improve efficiency, quality and productivity, delivering better products and bringing them to market faster.

There are sustainably considerations as well. We all know that manufacturing is not a light enterprise. Smart manufacturing has the potential to optimise inputs so that only the resources needed are used, and there is less waste. At the end of the day, consumers will be able to feel better about the products they have in their hands.

There are a lot of companies selling an idea of the future. Many of them are really good at marketing, but they’re not as good at accomplishing what they say. It’s not always their fault, either. A lot of consumers may not know Hexagon, they may not see Hexagon’s name on their gadget, but they’ve undoubtedly experienced Hexagon. Already, 90% of aircraft, 85% of cell phones, 75% of all automobiles in the world are produced using Hexagon’s technology, not to mention the examples above where we touch consumer technology and gaming — both the hardware and the software.

As the manufacturing industry continues to “make it smarter” — even one step at a time — consumer technology adoption has the potential to accelerate exponentially. And then maybe you can finally get the latest gadget you promised for your kids after the last CES for next holiday season.

Dan Marcec

Dan Marcec is the Corporate Communications Manager for Hexagon AB, supporting communications, public relations, content development and strategic messaging. Dan has 15 years of experience in communications, content marketing, and journalism across various industries, having written extensively about corporate governance and executive compensation, digital advertising and marketing technology, hotel investment and franchising, and commercial real estate development. He holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Georgia and is based in Atlanta.