Manufacturers Take to Technology, Automation
Driven by globalization, intensifying competition, and rising customer demand for more options and higher quality products, a connected plant floor has become a necessity. As a result, manufacturers are adopting the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to enhance visibility and improve quality, with the number of organizations achieving a fully connected factory expected to rise dramatically over the next five years.
That's one finding of Zebra Technologies Corporation's 2017 Manufacturing Vision Study, which analyzes emerging global trends shaping industrial manufacturing. The study reveals:
- Manufacturers will continue to adopt Industry 4.0 and the smart factory. Workers will use a combination of radio frequency identification (RFID), wearables, automated systems, and other emerging technologies to monitor the plant's physical processes and enable companies to make decentralized decisions. By 2022, 64 percent of manufacturers expect to be fully connected, compared to just 43 percent today.
- Fifty percent of manufacturers plan to adopt wearable technologies by 2022. And 55 percent of current wearable users expect to expand their usage in the next five years.
- Manual processes are expected to dramatically decline. Today, 62 percent of respondents use pen and paper to track vital manufacturing steps; this is expected to drop to one in five by 2022.
- Executives across all regions cite achieving quality assurance as their top priority over the next five years. Forward-looking manufacturers are embracing a quality-minded philosophy to drive growth, throughput, and profitability. By 2022, only 34 percent expect to rate this as a top concern—signaling that improvements made by both suppliers and manufacturers will ultimately improve the quality of finished goods.
- Manufacturers state investments in visibility will support growth across their operation. Sixty-three percent cite tracking as a core focus with a blend of technology—barcode scanning, RFID, and real-time location systems—expected to be deployed to achieve the desired visibility.
- Fifty-one percent of companies responding to the Zebra survey say they plan to expand the use of voice technology in the next five years. The most dramatic growth for voice technology will be in the largest companies—more than $1 billion—with reported use growing to 55 percent by 2022.