The future of the manufacturing industry: Technology trends for 2019 and beyond
2018 has been an exceptional year for investment in the manufacturing sector. From advances in internet of things (IoT) and augmented reality (AR) to growth in virtual reality (VR), 2018 has offered plenty of opportunities for manufacturers to digitally transform their operations. These technology innovations, which bring greater insights and mobility, were at the top of business wish lists. Indeed, the surge in automation solutions has seen the global enterprise application integration market rise to nearly $5bn in 2017 and is expected to reach over $11bn by 2023.
This investment is finding home in many innovative, emerging and disruptive industrial technology businesses. While the market remains fragmented today, we will likely see more consolidation through strategic M&A as digital transformation takes hold. For smaller businesses, this investment appetite opens up funding opportunities while offering larger businesses the opportunity to adopt the agility and technology they need to digitise essential functions as they move towards complete value chain transformation. As these emerging technologies enter the mainstream over the next few years, dealmakers, investors and businesses will need to think strategically about how to leverage them effectively.
Industrial IoT Solutions Market Dynamics
Underpinning the Industry 4.0 revolution is IoT. Looking to 2020, manufacturing companies will be spending about €250bn per year on digitising their processes and IoT operations – up from €60bn in 2015 – with larger, more established manufacturing companies acquiring younger, fast-growing tech companies. So, what is driving IoT adoption in manufacturing?
IoT offers radical productivity improvements and manufacturers are starting to capitalise on its benefits. From predictive maintenance, self-optimising production, smart response and automated inventory management, companies are making use of IoT across value chains and creating growth opportunities. Over the last few years, the falling cost of sensors and connectivity, data storage and analytics has allowed firms to record huge volumes of information about physical systems. This trend shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020 there will be more than 20 billion connected sensors and endpoints. With the cost of technology solutions falling and a significant number of companies in the UK currently offering IoT platforms, opportunities for investment and M&A are set to accelerate over the next year with some of the highest spending industries, including manufacturing, utilities and transportation.
- Rethinking ‘Design’ for ‘Additive Manufacturing’
- How technology can support behavioural safety in the manufacturing industry
- Industry 4.0 and the rise of the ‘smart factory’
Digital Twin Technology
Another concept gaining momentum is the use of digital twins, or the act of digitally modelling the performance of a physical asset or process. While this concept is well established, digitising actual physical processes has been slow to take off. However, it is expected that 50% of large industrials will use digital twins by 2021. This is driving more demand for such capabilities among industrial software vendors.
Developing and supporting digital twins requires big data collection and management capabilities as well as adaptive analytics and artificial intelligence. Companies that invest in digital twin technology could see a 30% improvement in cycle times of critical processes. According to Forbes, the increased business opportunities created by digital twin technology will lead to new collaboration opportunities – not just for companies and their current physical products and services, but also between companies. As we begin to see more digital twin technology enter the mainstream market, manufacturing firms will likely be able to benefit from predictive or condition-based maintenance, effectively reducing downtime and lowering operational maintenance costs.
With operating margins reduced to optimal levels, the race for efficiency has never been fiercer and AR may be the key to helping companies consolidate operations internally. PTC’s 2018 research shows that while external business strategies such as sales and marketing were the main objectives for the implementation of AR last year, 2019 could see companies internalise the capabilities of AR. Indeed, PTC’s research showed improved operational efficiency (44%) and training (39%) were among the top reasons for the use of AR. The same report found that almost 60% of businesses were expecting to use AR for internal use over the next 12 months. For investors, internal AR could also provide long-term ROI, unlike external AR experiences, which will quickly become an industry standard and thereby reduce the scope for differentiation and having a competitive edge.
2019 and Beyond
Now is the time for businesses and investors to evaluate the opportunities and solutions that are available to build fully digitised manufacturing organisations. Companies across the manufacturing industry are acquiring or investing in technology vendors to improve their capabilities and speed to market for IoT, VR and digital twin technologies, as well as developing their own capabilities and processes. Many manufacturers think and invest for the long term, and despite the headwinds from an uncertain political scene, they are committed to embracing digital transformation.
Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.