If manufacturers have learned anything during the last several years, it is that the stakes of doing business have been permanently raised.
Prior to 2020, the manufacturing environment was characterized by a focus on quality, cost competitiveness, worker safety and protecting the environment. Over the last couple of years, manufacturers have faced additional imperatives – including how best to operate amid COVID-19, severe labour shortages, supply chain disruptions, steep inflation and geopolitical instability.
During this time of turbulence, emerging technology has ushered in what is commonly referred to as Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This technology – which includes mobile devices, augmented reality, data analytics and artificial intelligence – is rapidly transforming the way manufacturers do business.
Combined, these trends present an unprecedented opportunity for manufacturers.
Today, the major question is not if a manufacturer will adopt automation and advanced technologies, but rather when and how. Adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies is a matter of survival – not only for large manufacturing companies, but also for small and mid-sized manufacturers. The long-term viability of these businesses likely depends on their ability to increase productivity while reducing costs.
Of the new Industry 4.0 applications being deployed in manufacturing operations, applied robotics have experienced the most growth. But more often than not, first-time adopters are apprehensive for fear of making an expensive mistake. According to the Manufacturing Institute, 1 in 3 manufacturers report that insufficient resources and expertise could limit their investment in emerging technologies.