U.S. Manufacturers Ready To Embrace Industry 4.0, But Face Barriers To Technology Adoption

The manufacturing industry in USA is moving rapidly to embrace technology as a critical part of its processes and plans to make new technological investments in 2017, but barriers to Industry 4.0 adoption still exist, according to the recently released Automation Alley’s 2017 Technology Industry Report.

Industry 4.0, also known as the fourth industrial revolution, refers to the convergence of digital and physical technologies currently disrupting the manufacturing industry, including:  the Industrial Internet of Things, autonomous robotics, advanced materials, additive manufacturing, big data, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and modeling, simulation and visualization.

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Automation Alley, a technology and manufacturing business association serving Southeast Michigan, unveiled the report’s findings to an audience of nearly 400 from the tech and manufacturing industries at its 2017 Technology Industry Outlook in Detroit. Held annually, the event includes technology demonstrations and a panel discussion on critical topics facing the manufacturing and technology industries, both locally and nationally.

For this year’s report, Automation Alley conducted a survey of technology and manufacturing executives from across the country — including Automation Alley members — to determine their knowledge of Industry 4.0 and whether both industries are ready for the rapid changes ahead as technology transforms manufacturing.

According to the report, 85% of national manufacturing executives said their company plans to increase existing budgets for technological advancements, while nearly a third of them plan to increase their budgets by 10% to 15%. In addition, more than half of all national manufacturing executives reported that their company has a dedicated budget for Industry 4.0 technologies. The top three technologies in which companies currently invest are the cloud, cybersecurity and big data and analytics. Locally, the Industrial Internet of Things and simulation (both at 42%), followed by autonomous robots, horizontal and vertical system integration, and the cloud (all at 33%) are a top priority for Automation Alley manufacturers.

In addition, the vast majority (88%) of national manufacturing executives believe technological advancements can be beneficial to their competitiveness. The top technologies manufacturing executives believe will improve their competitiveness in 2017 are the cloud, big data and analytics, additive manufacturing and cybersecurity.

While most manufacturers recognize the benefits of technological advancements, barriers to technology adoption remain. Only slightly more than half (52%) of the national manufacturers surveyed have a dedicated budget and process to support the adoption of new technologies. In contrast, 68% of Automation Alley manufacturers reported having a dedicated budget and process to support the adoption of new technologies.

“Encouragingly, our survey results show that the Automation Alley manufacturing base seems to be more prepared for the Industry 4.0 transformation than their national counterparts,” said Tom Kelly, Automation Alley’s executive director. “However, we found that barriers to adoption remain at both a local and national level. In addition, there are striking communication gaps that exist between the technology and manufacturing executives surveyed.”

The results show the technology industry needs to better understand pain points among manufacturers. The top barriers for technological advancements as reported by national manufacturing executives are cost, uncertainty about which technology supplier has the best solution, and employees who are reluctant to change.

Each year, Automation Alley publishes the Technology Industry Report to provide the technology business community with valuable insights into the future of the tech industry, both locally and nationally. Since the organization began publishing the report more than a decade ago, businesses and municipalities have used it for business planning and business and talent attraction.

Download Automation Alley’s full 2017 Technology Industry Report.

Automation Alley is Michigan’s leading technology business association, connecting businesses with talent, resources and funding to accelerate innovation and fuel Southeast Michigan’s economy. Since its founding in 1999, the nonprofit has grown to include nearly 1,000 tech-focused members in businesses, education and government.  Automation Alley focuses its efforts in five areas: advanced manufacturing, defense, entrepreneurship, internatiautomationalley.comonal business and talent development.

For more information: www.automationalley.com