Key trends in manufacturing

  • Published: December 6, 2019
  • Categories: General, ICT, Enterprise Network
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How ready is your organization for Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)? According to recent Deloitte global surveys, digital transformation is the top strategy of 94% of industrial company executives. Yet only 14% are confident that their organizations are ready for the changes. 

It's no wonder. Digitalization will affect every aspect of manufacturing, from production and planning to manufacturing and logistics, business models and products to customer experience and the workforce. It’s probably easier to build a new smart factory from scratch than it is to undergo a core modernization of old processes - and mindsets.

So what are the changes ahead? Here is a list based on Deloitte Tech Trends 2019:

1. First up: the macro-technologies at work

Leading industrial manufacturers are automating their large-scale processes - building a backbone of embedded intelligence. This backbone, made up of the IoT, blockchain and cognitive computing, can lower production costs, strengthen the supply chain, and enhance operational efficiency, reliability, security and transparency. While the cloud, analytics and digital experience are the “new normal”, Deloitte predicts that trends like blockchain, cognitive computing and digital reality are next in line to become mainstream. Successful digital transformation will require a controlled integration of all these technologies.

2. AI drives organizations

Industry leaders are harnessing the full potential of AI and machine learning for data-driven decision-making, and to generate valuable insights – from sourcing raw materials right through to end-user consumption. In particular, AI is changing the value of products, which will increasingly lie not just in their end-function, but in the data they generate. 

3. Enter the serverless world

Platform-independent cloud and serverless technologies are enabling substantial scalability while keeping costs low, says Deloitte. Deutsche Telekom is part of this trend. We have partnered with players across the digital and telecom spectrums to create rich ecosystems that we can offer in secure, all-in-one packages. For example, we recently partnered with Microsoft to drive cloud adoption and digital transformation across Europe. 

4. Connectivity of tomorrow

The IIoT will drive the development of new products, services and operating models. The search is on for advanced connectivity options with the necessary high-speed, low-latency secure networks the IIoT will need. These will allow a seamless vertical, horizontal and cross-geographic integration across the value chain. Hybrid computing - which combines edge computing and public cloud solutions - is one solution. So too are mesh networks, 5G, low earth orbit satellites, and ultra-broadband. 

5. High-speed networks – our role

Deutsche Telekom is a leading provider of secure high-speed network solutions such as hybrid computing. One of our recent solutions is an “Industrial Network”, which connects and controls machine-to-machine communication. And our cloud-based “Business Continuity Management” solution gives clients an online dashboard to keep on top of critical situations at all times. 

6. Intelligent interfaces

Computer vision, conversational voice, auditory analytics, and advanced augmented and virtual reality, will transform the way we engage with machines, data, and each other. AR and VR will help the workforce connect and learn more quickly, resulting in higher productivity. AR- and VR-assisted interfaces can help designers to move more quickly from ideas to engineered products. 

7. Enter the cobot

A cobot works alongside humans and can be programmed easily by factory workers. Unlike regular robots, it can move over factory surfaces safely, and be programmed to do more than one task. Cobots will step in to fill a labor shortage that Deloitte estimates will equate to two million skilled workers in the next decade. 

8. Beyond marketing: the customer experience

Today’s customers expect highly personalized contextualized experiences. This could see industrialization going from mass production to more personalization and product customization. Real-time data collected from sensor-enabled connected devices can help manufacturers better understand customers’ needs. 

9. Proactive risk management

Increased connectivity increases surfaces for cyber-attack. The trend, therefore, is away from reactive, compliance based cyber- and risk-management towards embedding cyber security, privacy, policy and controls from the ground up. This means that security teams work together with DevOp teams to create a “secure by design” digital network, which considers cyber risk in the planning stage prior to implementation.  

10. Building a roadmap

Many manufacturers fixate on individual technologies and lose sight of the big picture, says Deloitte. Instead they need a systematic approach that “demystifies” digital transformation and makes it concrete, achievable, and measurable. Above all, they need to learn the landscape. This means understanding AI, digital reality, blockchain, and other key technologies. As Deloitte says: “Keeping up with what’s new prepares you to invent what’s next.” 

Author: Miha Dimitrov
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