Manufacturing as an industry has been experiencing growing digitization, with organizations implementing tools and solutions that enable the more effective leveraging of data and the use of smart devices in operations.
This convergence of manufacturing practices and digital technology is most commonly referred to as Industry 4.0, which is the driving force behind many of the changes we’ve seen in manufacturing in recent years.
Related Post: What Is Industry 4.0?
By using technology in business operations, manufacturers can see improvements and growth in a number of different areas, whether it’s supply chain management (SCM), customer experience, or business process automation.
With this infographic, you can see what technology manufacturers are investing in and utilizing, and get a better understanding of what they are using it for.
Industry 4.0 is a major competitive differentiator for organizations in 2022, and the disruption caused by the use of its associated technology is broadly acknowledged by those in the industry.
Just 9% of organizations have updated their business models to prepare for Industry 4.0, but among companies that have experienced growth of at least 20%, that figure rises to 30%.
And yet, many manufacturers have been slow to adopt new practices and solutions that take advantage of the benefits they can provide.
That is changing, however. Consider sensors, to take a common example of digital transformation in manufacturing.
Sensors can be applied on factory floors to feed data and information to software systems, which can then analyze that data and provide stakeholders with information that can be acted on in real-time.
This particular use case has been pursued by organizations looking to reduce maintenance and repair costs for their machinery, but sensors and smart devices can be used for any number of purposes, such as workflow streamlining, logistics fulfillment tracking, factory floor compliance, and quality control.
Observations of digital maintenance and reliability transformations in heavy industries reveal the potential for companies to increase asset availability by 5 to 15% and reduce maintenance costs by 18 to 25%.
It should come as little surprise, therefore, to learn that the global smart sensor market is anticipated to grow quickly, from an estimated $36.6 billion in 2020 to $87.6 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 19%.
Technologies like this that aid in the utilization of data and technology are drastically shifting the direction of digitization in the manufacturing industry.
Now let’s go more in-depth into each of the technologies that are most important to manufacturers.
71% of manufacturers currently employ data analysis in their operations.
The use of data analysis in manufacturing provides several benefits that can help organizations better manage their operations.
These benefits broadly include:
- Demand forecasting
- Order fulfillment
- Supplier performance
- Quality control
- Inventory management
- Machine reliability monitoring
Much of the data necessary to more effectively perform these processes is already available to companies—they’re just failing to utilize it for analysis.
Up to 73% of company data is unused by businesses.
Increased use of this data, through the adoption of analytics platforms like PowerBI, allows companies to leverage previously unused data for the benefit of their operations.
99% of manufacturers use (64%) or plan to use (35%) cloud computing in their operations.
In order to conduct data analysis and make effective use of other modern technologies, organizations require a tech infrastructure that is able to handle large data sets and be scalable.
Cloud solutions are today highly sought-after by businesses, particularly SMBs, because the barrier of entry is low—that is, overheads on physical hardware are not necessary—and they are easily scalable if more users, power, or storage is needed.
Because of this, cloud computing services and their use in manufacturing is receiving a lot of interest among businesses, much in line with other industries that are also migrating their operations and data to the cloud.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
58% of manufacturers use ERP systems.
ERP solutions are necessary for modern businesses to avoid becoming siloed.
Siloing refers to a process in which systems containing data become more detached, often because of department solutions lacking integrations and consequently resulting in a situation where information is inefficiently used within companies.
ERPs allow individual solutions and modules, which are integrated into a single platform, offering the opportunity to share data and information more effectively.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
43% of manufacturers already use robotic process automation, while a further 43% plan to deploy RPA initiatives.
RPA can be used for a variety of purposes—most commonly to automate workflows and business processes that otherwise require a substantial amount of manual labor.
In manufacturing, RPA can be used to improve compliance, automate quality assurance processes, and facilitate order fulfillment.
As organizations look to streamline their processes and remove unnecessary costs in their operations, technologies like RPA will become a common fixture in manufacturing enterprises.
Internet of Things (IoT)
40% of manufacturers currently deploy IoT technology, while a further 47% plan to do so.
The Internet of Things in manufacturing is referred to as the “Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)”.
IoT devices, as we noted in the case of how sensors can be used, are being used in increasing volumes as manufacturers look to combine the power of the cloud, the strength of data analysis platforms, and the large data sets generated by smart devices.
As companies learn how to efficiently leverage smart devices and the data that is generated from them, the importance of the IIoT will continue to grow.
Modern technology used by manufacturers varies widely in its uses and applications.
The most significant tech, in terms of adoption today, concern the application and leveraging of data and the implementation of devices and hardware that can bridge the gap between the factory floor and the insights delivered to stakeholders.
As Industry 4.0 continues to play a large role in shaping how the operations of manufacturers are conducted, we can expect to see greater adoption of these key technologies in coming years.
If you are in need of digital solutions for your manufacturing organization, consider taking a look at our Digital Innovation service and learn how you can leverage technology for your business goals.