Engineering technology is a complex field focused on the practical applications of engineering to design, develop, and improve technology. Professionals who work in this field combine a knowledge of engineering with a hands-on grasp of manufacturing to produce products, processes, and systems to specification. Let’s look at some of the ways engineering technology has changed modern manufacturing plants.
Evolution of Manufacturing
Engineering technology is a major part of modern manufacturing, enabling factories to produce products efficiently. But it wasn’t always this way.
A Brief History of Manufacturing
The Industrial Revolution of the 18th century brought huge advances in machinery, transportation, and communication, all of which helped make manufacturing a reality. Never before had mass production been possible—spurring the pace of economic growth from a trot to a gallop.
Introduction of Engineering Technology
By the 20th century, assembly lines were the newest factory revelation, particularly in the automobile industry. The ability to mass produce and quickly assemble advanced products like cars once again changed the game. Since then, manufacturing technology has advanced even more rapidly, transforming the field completely. Automation and robotics have since taken over many processes of development, shifting the human focus elsewhere.
Impact of Engineering Technology on Manufacturing Today
These days, the humans you’ll find working in factory settings are more likely to be programming and repairing the manufacturing equipment or designing new applications for the technology. New industries are created every day with breakthroughs in semiconductors, biotechnology, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
And it’s all thanks to engineering technology. This industry is responsible for automating manufacturing processes and continues to drive innovation and economic progress into the future.
Engineering Technology in Modern Manufacturing
Engineering technologists work to improve efficiency, increase productivity, and reduce costs. A few of the key engineering technology players in modern manufacturing facilities include:
- Automation: Computer-controlled systems which take on planning, scheduling, and quality control, improving precision and consistency.
- Robotics: Programmable machines which handle repetitive tasks faster and with greater accuracy than humans. They are also able to work in dangerous or hard-to-reach environments.
- 3D Printing: Machines which can produce complex parts, layer by layer, from digital designs. This reduces not only costs but also inventory wait times.
- Augmented Reality: Overlays digital information or media atop the real-world environment, potentially providing real-time guidance and training to workers.
- Artificial Intelligence: AI and machine learning algorithms can analyze data and make predictions or suggestions, helpful for increasing efficiency and reducing costs in many ways.
The role of engineering technology in manufacturing is quite significant. Its contributions improve quality control and allow for product innovation.
Engineering Technology for Quality Control
When manufacturing plants can easily monitor and test products with precision and consistency, quality control naturally improves. Engineering technology is to thank for the automation and robotics which enable this consistency in production and quality.
Examples include non-destructive testing (NDT), x-ray imaging, various types of sensors, and data analytics, all of which help factories prevent small issues from becoming big (and expensive) problems.
Engineering Technology for Product Innovation
New technology always has new and unprecedented applications, leading to further inspiration and innovation. Examples include 3D printing, which has limitless applications. 3D printing is useful in manufacturing facilities for fabricating custom components or parts, which may have previously been expensive, required long shipping times, or simply did not exist on the market.
More examples include AI, machine learning, and data analyzation used to identify market trends—which could highlight a need, which could lead to product innovation.
Engineering Technology for Optimization and Communication
Optimizing production is always the goal of manufacturing facilities. When computer-aided design (CAD) software and simulations are used in the design process, production goes smoother. Other examples include automation using programmable logic controllers (PLCs).
Benefits of Engineering Technology in Manufacturing
Engineering technology helps manufacturing plants reduce costs and increase efficiency. This is achievable through a few factors:
- Streamlined production processes through automation
- Product consistency and quality control through robotics
- Reduced costs because of increased efficiency, improved quality and consistency
- Increased workplace safety as robotics and automation take over dangerous tasks
Modern manufacturing would look quite different without the advances of engineering technology.
Challenges of Implementing Engineering Technology in Manufacturing
Despite the many benefits of engineering technology for the manufacturing industry, there are challenges as well:
- Investment: Automation and robotics technology are expensive to purchase, install, and maintain. It requires a significant investment in hardware as well as software.
- Integration: Existing infrastructure may be quite old and require modifications to accommodate new technology.
- Training: The plant workers must shift from manufacturing products to repairing manufacturing equipment. They will need to be educated in how to work with the new technology.
- Cybersecurity: New technology is largely interconnected, meaning that all systems must be carefully safeguarded from hackers and other digital threats.
- Advancement: As quickly as technology has progressed just in recent memory, expect it to continue to advance! Even the most cutting-edge tech will be obsolete someday.
The challenges of updating a manufacturing facility can be overcome by taking proactive steps before undertaking an entire factory renovation:
- A Detailed Implementation Plan: An assessment of the facilities’ existing infrastructure must be performed to determine what technology would be most beneficial, where it should be located, and how it can be effectively integrated.
- Involve Employees in Implementation: Soliciting employee feedback or otherwise involving them in the process can reduce staff resistance, as can thorough training in the new systems and processes.
- Collaboration with Stakeholders: Expert partners may be able to offer guidance on best practices, provide support, and give advice from prior experiences in the industry.
- Ongoing Evaluation: Reviewing performance data on a regular basis can help ensure a smoother transition. Document this process to streamline the experience for the next major factory upgrade!
A strategic approach is the best way to handle such a large undertaking with minimal risk.
Future of Engineering Technology in Manufacturing
The advanced engineering technology used in manufacturing facilities today will continue to adapt and progress, leading to greater precision and consistency in production.
The use of data analytics and AI will only gather more and more data, which can help optimize processes and identify areas for improvement. 3D printing and the Internet of Things (IoT) are also expected to play larger roles in manufacturing plants, as new capabilities are discovered.
These technologies, as well as the new innovations they will inspire, have the power to change manufacturing as we know it. Are you interested in being a part of this shift?
How to Become an Engineering Technologist
You could be a force for change in factories around the world with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology, in any of these dynamic concentrations:
- Mechanical Engineering Technology: You could learn to conduct experiments, then analyze and interpret the results, to design and improve mechanical processes.
- Electronics Engineering Technology: You could learn to design and build electronic systems using analog and digital electronics, to implement and maintain computer systems.
- Electronic Systems Engineering Technology (ESET): You could be the link uniting engineers and technicians, working in teams to design, install, maintain, and repair systems, components, and processes.
- Mechatronics: You could learn to develop and troubleshoot robotics, programmable controllers, and integrated systems.
At EPCI University you could earn your bachelor’s degree in as little as 2.5 years, thanks to our accelerated degree programs. You could even graduate with valuable experience on your resume, due to our hands-on approach to learning, advanced technology labs, and our emphasis on industry externships. Contact our friendly admissions advisors to discuss earning your Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology in as little as 2.5 years.
It could be the BEST Decision You Ever Make!
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