Smart Manufacturing Revenue Will Surpass US$32bn by 2025
As manufacturers integrate IT and OT, they rely on Industrial IoT (IIoT) platforms dedicated to smart manufacturing to manage their devices, connectivity, infrastructure, and data. These IIoT platforms also help manufacturers implement applications, derive insights, and deliver those insights to the correct stakeholders. Consequently, IIoT platforms come in a variety of flavours to meet a range of needs. The most suitable definition, however, is that of an Application Enablement Platform (AEP). More than US$32bn will be spent on these solutions annually by 2025, forecasts global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research in its new whitepaper, The 36 Transformative Technology Stats You Need to Know for 2021.
AEPs provide a solution for importing data, but they often require partners to provide gateways. Some AEPs, such as Siemens MindSphere, Emerson Plantweb, and PTC ThingWorx, provide a "one-stop-shop" that can take data from devices and work like an Operating System (OS) with an app store. "Some one-stop shops focus more on extracting data and getting data to the cloud, while others focus more on delivering the data to other manufacturing and enterprise systems.
If app development remains open, applications can be built by the AEP provider, from partners (which may also be called platforms), end-users, or independent developers, much like smartphone app stores," explains Ryan Martin, Industrial and Manufacturing Research Director at ABI Research.
Another Industrial and Manufacturing trend highlighted in the whitepaper: smart glasses will no longer be a novelty on the factory floor with the number of connections forecast to grow from 1.4 million in 2019 to 20.9 million in 2025 (at a CAGR of 57 per cent).
"The rapid growth in connections reveals that solutions based on AR are fast becoming a mainstream technology on the factory floor. The glasses can increasingly be part of manufacturers' plans for onboarding staff, for providing top-up training in context, and for enabling more experienced staff to remotely support juniors. As well as maturing use cases, the growth in connections is evidence that the glasses will become comfortable enough to wear over an extended period and that investments in cellular networks mean that the embedded software can support the staff in real-time," explains Michael Larner, Principal Analyst at ABI Research.
About the whitepaper, Stuart Carlaw, ABI Research's Chief Research Officer says, "We have selected, from among the many millions of data points ABI Research creates each year, to focus on some enlightening data points that matter in the year ahead. Aspects like Tiny Machine Learning (TinyML), private cellular networks, Open Radio Access Network (RAN), blockchain, smart manufacturing platforms, and even connected cows point to how technology advancements are allowing our physical world to be better connected, managed, and efficient. The forecasts presented in this paper may be easy to dismiss but are very important directional indicators of the technology-enabled world of the future."
Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers
With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.
While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.
“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.
“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”
Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.
“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.
Technology and People
While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.
“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.
Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.