In the summer of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was putting a premium on manufacturers’ ability to adapt, MLC declared the Manufacturing 4.0 journey had reached an inflection point. Based on our research, manufacturers were moving to new levels of adoption, usage, experience, and knowledge of the digital model. It was the end of the beginning phase of M4.0.
Now two years later, our latest research reinforces that declaration.
As we consider where industry stands today, there is an overwhelming expectation – according to MLC’s latest Transformative Technology in Manufacturing Survey – that adoption will increase further in the next two years. Data from last year’s survey on this topic pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic as an accelerator of this adoption. Now, that adoption has moved into a higher gear.
What’s more, as investment in M4.0 technologies continues to grow, and as adoption of certain technologies reach a tipping point, new emerging technologies are arriving on the scene and bringing even more transformative power.
As we move from PLCs to sensors to industrial robots to AI to the Manufacturing Metaverse, there are some unknowns along the way. The accelerating pace of new innovations can cause consternation for some, but with steady forward momentum, the industry can successfully bring these technologies to the forefront and change how we work and create things.
These technologies may have started as disruptors, but as their adoption multiplied, they’ve become transformative for the industry. Consider the growing list of technologies in which more than half of our survey respondents report that their company has already invested: Industrial IoT; machine learning; factory floor industrial robots; 3D printing; cloud computing; predictive maintenance technologies; vision systems; automated vehicles, drones and mobile robots; and more! Meanwhile, nearly half of all survey respondents tell us that they have implemented AI either across all factories or on a single-project basis.
As industry moves beyond the inflection point identified by MLC in June 2020, it’s clear we are in the next phase of transformational territory. And we’re not looking back. M
About the author:
Jeff Puma is Content Director for the Manufacturing Leadership Council.