Are we getting beyond the speculation and hype of ideas such as Industry 4.0 and digital manufacturing? This latest survey and study by PwC (www.pwc.com/industry40) reveals that executives anticipate benefits from investments within two years.

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PwC says its 2016 Global Industry 4.0 Survey is the biggest worldwide survey of its kind, with over 2,000 participants from nine major industrial sectors and 26 countries. It goes to the heart of company thinking on the progress of Industry 4.0. The study explores the benefits of digitising the horizontal and vertical value chain, as well as building your digital product & service portfolio.

Industry 4.0 at a glance

“We include a detailed description and definition of Industry 4.0 in the main global report on the survey.” Digitisation and integration of vertical and horizontal value chains, digitisation of product and service offerings, and the development of new digital business models and customer access platforms are driving Industry 4.0 adoption.

Digital Enterprise From the Study

Behind the scenes of the world’s leading industrial products companies, a profound digital transformation is now underway. Companies are digitising essential functions within their internal vertical value chain, as well as with their horizontal partners along the supply chain. In addition, they are enhancing their product portfolio with digital functionalities and introducing innovative, data-based services.

  • Industrial manufacturing companies plan to invest 5% of annual revenue in digital operations solutions over the next five years. And they are setting themselves ambitious targets for the level of digitisation and integration that can be achieved.
  • Many companies are already producing machines to deliver on the vision of the connected factory, using the power of the internet to link machines, sensors, computers, and humans in order to enable new levels of information monitoring, collection, processing, and analysis. This is adding to the products and services that companies can offer their customers, helping them work in collaborative ways in the design of future machines and their digital environment to boost performance.
  • A number of technologies, including robotics, cobotics, 3D printing and nanotechnology, have direct relevance for many industrial manufacturing applications while other technologies, such as augmented reality, can enable manufacturers give customers realtime information and training at the point of use.

Some of these developments are maturing now. Others remain for the future. The rate of adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies by industrial manufacturing companies is accelerating fast.

The digitisation, integration and automation opportunities offered enable companies to collaborate both internally and across their value chains in ways that can provide a step change in productivity as well as design and build quality. And they are opportunities that are increasingly important as companies seek to stay relevant as the era of digitally connected smart infrastructure develops.

Analysis

The point that fascinates me is the speed of adoption. It was only three years ago when I was introduced to the “hype” of Industry 4.0. Then followed speculation and hype. Typical technology curve, I think.

However, most of the technology existed. It just took the foresight and will to begin and the intelligence of implementation. Ways to increase sales and reduce costs both contribute to profitability. Maybe the strategies and technologies behind Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things and digital manufacturing actually will help us cross the next manufacturing divide.

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